Nature-Inspired Oriental Brush Paintings
Darlene Kaplan is an artist, instructor and CEO of Soft Brush Studio, living and working in Alexandria, Virginia. She is recognized as a leading specialist in Oriental Brush Painting in the Lingnan style. All of her paintings are created on acid free rice paper using ink and water based mineral colors. She has been painting with Chinese watercolors for more than 40 years and her nature-inspired watercolors captivate art lovers worldwide.
Her interest in art began at a young age. “When I was around 5 or 6 years old my mother would draw pictures of birds to keep us quiet. I grew up in the country in Tennessee and all of my spare time was spent walking in the woods searching out bugs, plants and anything else that was alive. Those childhood days spent with nature is brought alive every time I put a brush stroke down on paper. All of my paintings are derived from nature.”
Among her many exhibitions include those at Ratner Museum, Bethesda, MD and Bodzin Fine Arts Gallery, Fairfax, VA. She also had a one-person exhibition at River Farm, Alexandria, VA that featured more than 70 paintings. And, she was accepted into an American Sumi-e Society Exhibition in which she won an award. Her many art projects include a commission for a painting to be used as a backdrop in a play.
Kaplan has won numerous awards including having her art selected by Lilly Wei, art critic for Art in America magazine for the Manhattan Arts International “Celebrate The Healing Power of Art” exhibition. She won additional awards from Artist Magazine (water media showcase), Artist Magazine (landscape/interior), Southwest Art Magazine (winner of Splash 15), American Watercolor Magazine, Sumi-e Society of America, MD. She is also a recent recipient of an Award of Excellence from Manhattan Arts International, in its “New Beginnings” exhibition.
To create her specialized paintings she uses handmade brushes with natural animal hair. She explains, “A top quality handmade Chinese or Japanese brush will have the greatest impact on the success of an artist. A great brush will hold its tip making it suitable for dealing with a wide range of subjects and for producing the variations in line required by different styles. These brushes are designed to hold water in the upper half which pushes out the color or ink in the lower half of the brush during a stroke.”
She was featured in Luxe Beat magazine and she was a guest on Mature Living TV program. She gave a demonstration of Koi as a guest of Charles Mills from the Virginia Time Travel, TV channel 10 & 69, filmed in the Fairfax Public Access studio in VA. It is now available for viewing on YouTube.
The artist has held the position of President in many local art organizations including Gallery West, Alexandria, VA. She is currently the President of the local National Sumi-e Society.
When Kaplan isn’t creating art or teaching she presents Chinese Tea Tastings, Gong Fu Style in her studio. “This ceremonial tea drinking style is meant to focus one’s attention and relax the mind and spirit in a convivial, shared experience. Guests are served several different Premium or Estate Teas that come from around the world. They learn how the tea is harvested, what makes tea green or black, and the many health benefits of tea. For example, Pu-erh has been medically proven to lower cholesterol.”
Visit Darlene Kaplan’s website www.darlenekaplan.com