Archive » Arts and Entertainment

Artist Kara Darragh takes over a studio at Dragonfly Arts

February 1, 2024   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

“We moved to Inglewood,” began Kara Darragh, who told the Citizen how she had landed at Dragonfly Arts. “I love Orangeville,” she said. “We were on the main street [Broadway], and I love that store [Dragonfly], and I was just chatting to Joan [the owner]. One area was a mishmash and I asked why when everyone else was so organized. Joan said, ‘I haven’t decided if I’m going to have another artist there and I said ‘Yes you are and it’s me!'”

And so it was settled.

The small studios in Dragonfly are open to the public, meaning that there are distractions of people wanting ask questions or simply watch the artist work. It was all new to Ms. Darragh, who wondered how she would feel about painting in front of people. Turns out, it was fine and she was able to flow while painting as well as ever.

“It’s such a really nice place to land,” was her comment.” I couldn’t be happier. I get a good case of the warm and cuddly there.”

She is impressed by how well Joan Hope has made it through over so many years.

“She has a wonderful eye about how things should look in the front window of the store.”

Ms. Darragh is an acrylic and abstract artist who is very driven by nature. She has done a number of different styles and when she paints, she told us, she never knows what she is going to get.

“I paint in squares,” she said. “And I turn them around and they look completely different when I turn them.”

To an extent, she uses some mixed media, and recently, she loves painting on paper, occasionally mixing marble powder or modelling paste into her paintings. However, paper on its own could not survive the pounding of acrylic, marble powder and modelling paste. To reinforce her paper, she treats it with gesso, which is white primer paint, doing both sides of the paper to strengthen it.

“If you gesso both sides of the paper it makes it really strong,” she instructed.

Once the paper is ready, she is aggressive with the paint. She can put on a lot of paint and spray the paper to be “really, really wet. I like thick paint.”

She actually puts the acrylic on in layers and then takes some off. The painting is developed by a continual play, and it feels like that.

For some years, Ms. Darragh taught art with the Peel District School Board, before which she and her son lived in Oakville. They sold everything and drove across Canada. The plan was to go exploring, but Covid had closed the borders, and they could not cross into the States. They decided to come back to Ontario, which “really surprised both of us,” she added.

She loves Orangeville. They are renting in Caledon, commenting that she is not too sure what’s next, but she wants to stay in Dragonfly.

For a while, living in Vancouver, Kara Darragh was a photographer who had a studio fashion in a huge, beautiful studio. One day, a friend of hers informed her that she and Ms. Darragh were going to a painting class. The friend had already signed her up and bought her all the materials. They were a series of night classes for 10 weeks, and Ms. Darragh was immediately hooked. She went to the paint studio the next day and didn’t even want to photograph anything.

“It was a beginners class, basically to teach us how to use acrylic paint, learning to be fearless and try to use the paint in lots of ways. I’m glad [my friend] introduced me to acrylic painting. She had a pottery school and wanted to try something new to inspire her pottery.

She was doing photography in fashion and did quite well until she was tired of it after a few years.

Interestingly, she related, “The end of it for me was this 13-year-old girl trying to be a sex object, and I was contributing to this by taking those photos. I thought, ‘I’m done.’ and came back to Ontario.”

Ms. Darragh has spent lengthy times when she did not paint. She has done a number of different shows. Before teaching, she used to do outdoor art festivals, which she enjoyed. She started teaching art. Once, she was full-time with a teaching career and raising her son, which kept her busy for a while with no time to paint.

“Now, I am in the right head space,” she said. “There’s a young gal who’s going to help with my website. Next week, we’re going to re-vamp my website.”

Her ambition is to live in a healthy, happy environment where people empower each other and align with nature. She has a friend living in an eco commune in Costa Rica. That’s nice to visit, she reckons.

Ms. Darragh said, “I think I will always paint; there are times when I go without, but I always come back to it.

“It’s the joy of creating.”

Readers Comments (0)

Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.