The artist Anne Darby Parker creates paintings that embody all the things we love about her hometown, Charleston, South Carolina—they’re pastel-kissed, they tip their hats to the classics, and they feature plenty of palm fronds! Specializing in dreamy abstract figural paintings that can go anywhere from the boudoir to the dining room, Anne was a shoo-in for joining our recently-launched Chairish Artist Collective. We recently stole some time with this busy mom of three (who’s also currently polishing off her MFA from the Academy of Art University), to get a peek inside her Sullivan’s Island studio and talk about the inspiration behind her Figures Inscape collection, currently available on Chairish!
Tell us a bit about your path to becoming a painter.
“When my husband and I lived in Boston, I attended the New England School of Photography. After graduation, I started my photography business, which as the time, was all film. During that time, however, I became increasingly interested in painting and drawing. The clincher was when digital photography came out and film just went away. I didn’t have the incentive to work digital at the time—I had a dark room. I printed all my own work. From that point, becoming an artist was an easy decision.”
You’ve since gone back to school to obtain your Art MFA (a move we majorly admire!). Tell us more about how that came about.
“When my youngest daughter got her license (and I realized I didn’t need to do drive and do drop-offs anymore) I came into possession of all this time. So, I called the college advisor—the woman who helped all my children get into college—and asked her to help me get into college! I applied online to the Academy of Art University, and I’ve been a student there for the past 4 years. I think it’s important to realize that to become a professional you need a level of expertise. Because of the focus and immersion school provides, not to mention the good teachers, I thought it was an excellent way to go about achieving that level of expertise.”
What’s the relationship between your home and your studio space?
“My studio is a part of my home. My husband and I built this house a couple of years ago. It’s modeled after a quintessential 1920s Sullivan’s Island beach house—and we connected it to our main house, by way of a door. It works well because people often come over to look at my work, and we have this private space for that. I always laugh that my commute home is enviable!”
How did you approach the design and layout of your studio?
“A studio is a place for creativity, but it also requires organization. I really thought long and hard about the space, and ultimately, I decided to organize it like a kitchen. Hence, it has lots of table tops, places for tools, and areas to clean-up, like a sink. It’s not a big studio, but the space is very efficient. Every nook is used. In fact, the studio has a ledge that I put glass down on, so I can actually use it as a palette.”
How does living in Charleston inspire your work?
“I think the colors I used are definitely reflective of the Low Country. The colors and the light here are so beautiful—it kind of reminds me of Africa, in that everything’s a warm tone; it’s not a cool tone environment. It’s warm greens, warm blues, warm lavenders. I’ll try to do something in a different palette, but I always come right back to it. Almost all of my paintings have some kind of blue in it, and I think that’s because I’m surrounded by water. There’s so much movement in the water and the wind, and the paintings also have movement and motion.”
Where else do you turn if you need inspiration?
“I collect art books like crazy, and when I’m trying to get inspiration for color or shape, I just go through them until I find, oh, this is how blue is used... I’ve pulled so much from my books that they’re really ragged and painted-splotched, but I just keep pulling from them. Digital just doesn’t have the same effect for me. It really takes a book and having it with me. My husband is also a great inspiration for me. His background is design, but not painting. So, his eye is great. But because we don’t do the exact same thing, it doesn’t get messy!”
You’re part of something called the Charleston Artist Collective. Tell us more about that.
“The Charleston Artist Collective was founded by Alison Williamson and it was one of the first online galleries. I work with them and it’s wonderful to have that support. We’re all from Charleston, so we’re all local artists. As one of the founding members, it’s been fun to watch it grow, and us grow. When Chairish asked to do an online seller’s show, it seemed very familiar to me because of the collective. You typically think of a show as being somewhere on a wall, but the fact that it was online actually made it feel familiar to me!”
Tell us about the body of work that’s for sale on Chairish.
“The works are from show called Figures in Scape. The show was actually going to Greenwich, Connecticut, but then Hurricane Irma came through and we had to cancel the show. On the same day that I was supposed to fly out to Connecticut, Chairish called! We collaborated to transfer the show the online. So, what you’re seeing is really a complete body of work, developed over the course of nine months, focused on the study of figures.”
Lead photo by Charlotte Elizabeth