Darren Reid: artist

savoyCome and see my new Darren Reid are not words being used by many people just now.

But give it a few years and they may well be on the lips of the more canny art collectors.

Darren has only completed ten paintings and has never been to art college or had a solo exhibition so it is all the more remarkable that he has just sold three pieces – each for a four figure sum.

It seems the contemporary realist work of the 43-year-old, who only started painting a couple of years ago, is turning heads wherever it is exhibited.

His first-ever painting was commended in the Derbyshire Open in 2012 and at this year’s event one his paintings was not only commended but also won the Visitors’ Choice Award.

To top that the Buxton Fringe Festival then nominated him for the exhibition’s Best Artist prize.

Buoyed by the praise being lavished on his work Darren then took his paintings to the co-owner of Duffield Gallery James Preston to see if he might exhibit them.

“I didn’t think he would be interested. But James took one look at them and said ‘I’ll take them all.’

“That was enough of a surprise but then when he suggested the figure I should be asking for them I had to put my hand over my mouth and tell myself not to laugh,” said Darren, who is still incredulous at the £1,000-plus price tags.

“It really is amazing. I’m a little bit embarrassed about it really. I can’t believe that anyone would pay that much for them, but since then people have – so James was right.”

You might be wondering why someone who can paint so brilliantly didn’t get noticed before he reached his 40s and what it was that prompted him to start.

Well surprisingly enough it was his love for his pet dog that finally got Darren off the ground.

Tubbs, a collie cross, fell ill with diabetes and vets told Darren he would either have to have her put to sleep or face giving her injections every eight hours for the rest of her life.

“There was no way I was having her put to sleep, she was my best friend and we had been through a lot together, so from that moment my life took on a new routine.

“It meant I had to stay at home in the evenings so my social life was crushed and I needed to find something else to do other than just watch television or read books.

“I had always been good at drawing but I had never tried painting even though I had wanted to. Somehow life always got in the way and I had never found the time.

“Some acrylics I had been bought as a present had been lying around the house for two months or more when I suddenly thought, ‘hey I am going to give it a go’.

“I am inspired by the realist painting of artists like Nathan Walsh, Clive Head, John Salt and Ralph Goings and I wanted to see if I could paint like that.

“I picked up a brush and I found that I could just do it. It’s difficult to explain really but it was just like that. I have always been interested in architecture and buildings and the first thing I painted was the fire escape on the building where I work at Darley Abbey Mills.

I have been pretty much teaching myself as I go along by reading books and looking at how others do it. Each painting I do I hope to make better than the last and I can see where I am improving. I try to make each one more difficult to challenge myself,” he said.

Cheekily Darren emailed artist Nathan Walsh to ask him for tips and to his amazement, he not only replied but has since become something of a mentor.

“I seriously didn’t think I would hear back from him but thought it was worth a go. When I got a reply I could hardly believe it. I was pretty made up by that I can tell you. I have since met him and he even invited me to New York for his latest exhibition preview.”

Darren paints his pictures on an easel behind the sofa in the living room of his cottage at Milford and admits that although he quite fancies a separate studio he has no plans to become a full time artist.

He is a partner and design director of Indigo Design and Display, which manufactures signs, and says he loves that work so much he has no intentions of giving it up.

“You can never say never I suppose but I see my painting as a second job which I do in the evenings.

“Now I have started painting I just can’t stop and I intend to go on improving but I can’t imagine myself doing it all day,” he said.

“Mind you I wouldn’t mind hearing someone say ‘Come and see my new Darren Reid’. That would really be awesome.”

To find out more about Darren’s work in the future check him out at http://www.darrenreid.co.uk or on facebook at Darren Reid Paintings.

He currently has pictures exhibited at Cromford Studio and Gallery and Duffield Gallery.