Capturing the breathtaking natural beauty of Arkansas is not an easy feat. This geographically diverse state with infinite details always amazes locals and tourists alike – almost as if it were a painting. Jeanetta Darley, an Arkansas artist, finds inspiration in the state’s sights and creates everlasting moments for people to admire wherever they are.
Darley has been an artist for decades, and if you ask her, a lifetime. “I consider myself to have been an artist my whole life. My mom still has drawings that did when I was little that surprisingly look like what I said they were,” laughs Darley. “I took art classes growing up and I majored in art in college, so it’s just like breathing for me.”
Darley’s husband served in the military, so she took some time away from her art to take care of their kids. As any person knows, it’s difficult to leave behind a passion, but sometimes it’s necessary. Darley didn’t leave it for too long, though. “Around 2007, I started getting back into my art and dabbling with little things. My art has now gone full-time, and this is all I do,” says Darley. Despite her break with creating art, Darley’s skill and ability to freeze time on canvas did not escape her.
She sells pieces on Etsy and in various stores and restaurants across the state. Darley describes her art theme as “Nature and Nostalgia.“ “When people are presented with nature, and especially the awe-inspiring aspects of it, it’s breathtaking and often inspirational for them. I don’t think anybody ever leaves the Grand Canyon and just said, ‘Well that’s a big hole in the ground,’ or here in Arkansas nobody has walked away from the Buffalo River and not been amazed at it,” says Darley. “So that being said with nature, if you look at the nostalgia aspect of what I work from I feel like another part in the human experience that’s awe-inspiring is our memories. Often our memories are tied to things so to speak. It could be a dish pattern that your grandmother had or tools that would have been around your someone’s house or a lunch box you had as a kid. When you see that it triggers memories and takes you back. That combination of old things and nature, there are things within us that we don’t touch on a daily basis.”
Darley paints nature, landscapes, Arkansas symbols, and for those looking for more personal pieces, she does custom pet and house portraits. Pet owners often come to Darley after the passing of an animal for portraits of their beloved pets. “I always love when that person receives the portrait and knowing how much it means to them. That animal was a big part of their lives, and I’ve done something for them to continue to make that animal a special part of their lives,” says Darley. The house portraits are heavily intertwined with her emphasis on nostalgia. Childhood homes, first houses, and sometimes businesses. Usually, the portrait will be of an older structure that may no longer be standing. “Sometimes I’m only given clips of faded pictures where we are only shown the house from certain corners and we have to piece it all together. I look at the architecture of the time period and fill in blanks that may be missing from memories or photos, and go from there. Old buildings with unique architectures are art in and of themselves, and they’re beautiful. Capturing that will always be something I enjoy doing,” says Darley.
She paints on canvases, postcards, wooden necklaces, tree slices and anything she believes could enhance her art. “I love unconventional surfaces that I can use to make something beautiful out of,” says Darley with a laugh. “I really enjoy doing the wooden necklaces right now because they’re something that can go everywhere. I am invested in the details of my art, and translating those details into smaller sizes is a challenge that I love.” Her wooden necklaces are featured on her Etsy store along with other pieces, and her art can be found at America Jane Vintage, The Farmstand at Bell Urban Farm, The Wunderhaus, Streetside Creperie and Prestonrose Farm and Brewery.
Darley pushes anyone who is interested in creating art to go for it. She believes that others can find the same joy she does from being creative and painting thoughts on canvases. “Even if you’re not as successful as I am, I’ve been doing it for over 40 years so my skills are going to be more fine tuned, but I hope that it would just encourage people to pick up a piece of paper and a pencil and just start. If you set someone down at the piano and tell them to play, nobody expects you to be Mozart, but for some reason, they know that playing the piano takes a lot of practice and all types of activities take practice. Sometimes it’s just the process of doing it, not so much the product that you come out with that is going to benefit you the most,” says Darley.
“I firmly believe that as human beings, everything is created. Through the conveniences of the modern age we sort of push that desire to make things and to create things away because so much of it is done for us. I would hope that I could be more of an inspiration for them to try stuff.”
Explore more of Jeanetta Darley’s art here.