US best seller Darren Thompson talks about his day job as a teacher, his inspiration and his advice for emerging artists!

by Poppy Rooney

This week Artfinder meets teacher by day and US best seller by night, Darren Thompson! Darren spoke to us about the influence that the city of Chicago has had on his art, working on 12-18 paintings simultaneously and creating pieces into the early hours.

Read on to learn more about the man behind the best selling artworks...

On becoming an artist: "I just got it"

“I was always very good at drawing as a child.  I can remember being about 6 or 7 and spending hours copying images from comic books. They stunned my teachers, who would frequently call my parents in to ask if they knew of my talents!

Drawing was always very easy for me.  I just got it.”

'CTA' by Darren Thompson

On being an artist: "I don't actually consider myself an artist"

“I started out as an illustrator a few years after college in 1992 and completed around 2000 assignments in a 15 year span. Most of these were political or editorial images or caricatures for new publications.  It was a great training ground for drawing and design. 

Around 2000 I started to dabble in oil paint. I had always used watercolour paints for my illustration work but was curious to try my hand at oil painting. It was something new to push myself.

I don’t actually consider myself an artist.  I spend more hours per week working a regular job assisting special needs children in the Chicago Public Schools.

'Hustle and Bustle Historic' by Darren Thompson

On painting: "I work from one painting to another in a circuit"

“I work on 12-18 paintings at once. To manage this, I use a timer. This gives me certain restricted time frame to work on each painting, before going on to the next.

Setting a time limit makes me work with a sense of urgency, as well as stopping me from overthinking each detail. I work from one painting to another in a circuit. This method enables me to cleanse my vision in between moving from one piece to another.

This means that my style has remained the same: very loose and spontaneous. I use an easel so that I can stand and better channel my energy.”

Darren painting into the late hours, in his studio

On the studio: "My creativity is at its best when I can focus"

“I create all my paintings in my basement either in the late hours or early morning.

I work at odd hours to reduce the amount of distractions, because my studio is situated in my home which I share with my wife, two young children and two very needy dogs!

My creativity is at its best when I can minimize outside distractions and focus on the piece in front of me. I don’t worry about making mess or keeping the space too tight.”

Darren at work in his studio

Darren's paint palette

On inspiration and other artists: "Cities are a never-ending source of inspiration"

“I like the urban scenes created by Edward Hopper and Isabel Bishop. I also find cities a never-ending source of inspiration, which eliminates the possibility of creative blocks.  

Having come from a small town, I am drawn to the hustle and bustle of big city scenes, which many of my pieces convey.  I love the way that city scenes allow me to demonstrate the energy and excitement that I feel towards my art.  

The cityscapes I paint are everyday scenes, of everyday people in places such as New York and Chicago, as well as others.”

'Orange Building Midtown Morning' by Darren Thompson

On challenges: striking a balance between necessity and creativity

“I grew up in a small rural town in Indiana, USA, but for some reason I felt drawn to large cities.

I got my wish ten years ago when I moved to Chicago, IL. It was a great move because it allowed me to find a job which would provide for me and my family, while allowing me enough free time to still paint.

For me and most artists, that’s probably the biggest challenge working here in the US.” 

'Blue Green' by Darren Thompson

On Artfinder

“I like Artfinder because things just seem to work better. I like the idea of selling art internationally as I am from Chicago. Also, Artfinder is very organised! I receive a payment every 2 weeks with no delays.”

'Solo' by Darren Thompson

On life

“I focus on the process of life, not the outcome. This allows me to be more forgiving of mistakes in myself and others and far more relaxed in my approach to everything from painting to parenting.

Many of my attitudes have come from years playing sports. I played football and basketball throughout elementary, high school and college years. Sport focuses on the process as well as living in the moment, which I find to be the means to contentment in my life and my work.”

'Casino' by Darren Thompson

Advice for other artists

“Always be inspired! I would advise young artists to be influenced by lots of artists, music, writers, cinematographers, etc. Don't hold back!”

'Novel Subway' by Darren Thompson

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