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Photo of artist, Darcie Denton

In anticipation of the release of The Walnut Branch magazine Volume 1, we interviewed each featured artist to learn more about their artistic journeys, inspirations, and processes.

Today, we are featuring our interview with Chattanooga artist and painter, Darcie Denton.

Q: Can you share a bit about your artistic journey and what inspired you to pursue your chosen medium?

I don’t think my artistic journey really had a beginning – I’ve always known art was my thing. The label “artist” was always something I felt comfortable wearing, and this is probably largely due to my supportive and affirming parents.

Up through middle school, I was always content to be drawing people – always from my imagination, always girls, sometimes realistic, sometimes cartoon, usually done in plain pencil. My exposure to the larger online art community as a teenager began to grow my subject matter and shape my style. During this era, colored pencil was my weapon of choice. Then in college, under the guidance of my professors, my style really evolved and matured. When I graduated, paint had become my number one medium. I felt it possessed the best quality for communicating emotions through visual art. These days, while paint is still the medium I use most often (especially acrylic and watercolor), I still use dry media from time to time, and I’ve begun to branch out to using found objects and 3D material in my work. For example, I recently upcycled a dollhouse for a piece in my 2023 solo show, and I created a little room out of PVC pipe and sheets to display it in.

Q: How do you approach the creative process? Are there specific rituals or methods you follow to bring your ideas to life? 

I’ve become so fascinated by the idea of ritual, and I love the use of that word in this question. As all creatives know, creative energy and inspiration comes in phases. But the seasons of high energy and those of low energy – the seasons of new work and those of no work – are all part of the creative process. I find a lot of creative fuel in books – books about art and spirituality, art theory, poetry, fiction, religion, and more. They are essential to my current creative process. I often like to start the day reading one of these, with some tea, and I often end the day doing the same.

Walking is another important part of my creative process. This is not something I do every day, but I find a lot of inspiration and stillness in these walks. Lastly, rest is an incredibly important part of my creative process and my life in general. I follow the Biblical seven-day cycle of working for the first 6 days and resting on Saturday. I don’t do any work (which means saying “no” to selling my art at markets on that day), I try to stay off my phone (this is difficult), and I give my body and soul the reset it needs.

Q: Where do you see your artistic journey taking you in the future? Are there specific goals or projects you aspire to undertake in 2024?

In my experience, choosing a creative life leads to many unexpected opportunities. I generally try to stay open to see where the path will take me next. So, because of this, the future is a little blurry. But it’s exciting. The only big, career-related plan I’ve consistently had is to actively be an artist. The specifics tend to work themselves out as I take one step at a time. That being said, I certainly do have short-term goals and hopes and dreams for the future. One of those is to travel as an artist. I get plenty of inspiration in my little corner of the world, and I’m thankful for that. But I do crave the new experiences that traveling brings, and with the opportunity presented by art residencies, I hope to do a lot more of it.

In March of 2024, I will have my first physical art residency (I’ve previously had a digital art residency) at Stove Works, right here in Chattanooga. And I hope that will open the door for many more. As for projects, I always have so many that I either want to undertake or am working on. For the sake of keeping this short, here are a few things I’m hoping to work on in 2024: bookmaking, poetry/developing my writing abilities, collaborating with another artist for a show, continuing to paint about nostalgia and memory, delving into process-focused art, etc. I also have the big project this year of planning my wedding! To step only slightly outside of my art career, my current job is leading a team of creatives to share our lives on social media. We just launched at the beginning of January, and it’s the biggest project I’m working on this year. It also happens to be the most fulfilling job I’ve ever had.

Walnut Street Publishing is a Chattanooga-based independent publisher that specializes in amplifying stories from new and experienced authors and artists. We build a bridge for authors and artists to their audience around the world. We do this by creating avenues for talented individuals to publish their work. We believe in working together to help bring stories to life. We specialize in helping new authors find their voice and assist them in the publishing process while also being a solution to experienced authors who want a more personal publisher.

Emily Quinn

Emily Quinn

Emily Quinn is a Chattanoogan that dabbles in many different art forms, from music and writing to digital art and watercolors. She is the Social Media Manager for Walnut Street Publishing and a volunteer with Reach One Teach One UCA. Emily is a proud cat mom of 3, but most notably, she is the lucky wife of the talented writer, Aaron Quinn.