After obtaining my Master of Associated Medical Sciences degree in Medical Illustration, I worked as a medical illustrator for 25 years. My work combined artistic ability, knowledge of human anatomy, and familiarity with medical terminology and surgical procedures. For over 12 years at what is now Tufts Medical Center in Boston, I created illustrations for medical, dental, and veterinary textbooks, medical journals, patient education materials, large exhibits, and much, much more. *Fun fact: my niece just graduated from Tufts Medical School and saw several of my illustrations during class lectures, still in use! When the art department closed in December 2000, I continued medical illustration work from my home studio for another 12+ years.
Meanwhile I also painted for enjoyment, primarily small, detailed watercolor studies of flowers, fruits, and vegetables. Needing a change, I gradually phased out medical illustration work to pursue new artistic directions. Although I sometimes use acrylic on canvas, my favorite medium is watercolor. Besides my beloved flowers, I also paint coastal landscapes, portraits, and bird and animal portraits. I have displayed and sold work in local shows and art auctions since 2007 and show my work on Instagram and Facebook. Additionally, I have been an active member of the Belmont Art Association since 2013 and became Co-Chair in 2018; I joined ArtLinks Arlington in 2019.
In terms of my process, every painting begins with close observation of some striking moment in the environment around me, whether it is sunlight illuminating a flower or reflecting on the ocean, interestingly shaped produce, a neighbor’s chicken, a robin’s nest, the pattern on a carpet, or stripes on a shirt. If I am painting a static object, I do a quick outline sketch directly on the watercolor paper and dive in. Often when I am on a walk, inspiration strikes. I take many reference photos from multiple angles and select the best to work from, and I vastly prefer to paint indoors where I can control the conditions. I work carefully, in sections, usually on cold-press paper because it allows me to paint accurate details. Since it takes me a long time to create such detailed work, my largest watercolors are 18”x24,” with most on a smaller scale. My paints are a primarily a combination of Winsor & Newton and Daniel Smith, and I generally choose Arches, Fabriano, and Canson papers.
I have always been fascinated by watercolor and love the challenges of a medium that allows for few mistakes. I enjoy the visual tension that results from the interplay between focused areas celebrating the beauty of complex details against looser, more abstracted backgrounds, where the spontaneous interchange between pigments on a wet ground can be spectacular and inspiring. I am also especially interested in color and the dramatic contrasts of light and shadow as they move throughout a painting.
You can find Darisse’s work on her website
, on Instagram
, and on Facebook
Click images below to view them at full size.