Dara's Path ~ work and process

About Hidden Portals and Narrative Art

I call my work Narrative Art rather than Illustrative because it doesn’t provide a visual for a story, it is a visual that inspires story. The watercolor images that form the bases for these collages are almost always done in a trance state. As explained on the Elf Journeys Page, I never know quite what is going to come out, but when I look at it later, I "get" things from it – a name, a wisp of feeling, or a scrap of story that I can run with if I choose, or leave as a tantalizing suggestion of another reality just within reach. I often think of these paintings as hurried drawings of my inner travels, souvenir snapshots of my brief journeys into a wider reality than I am ordinarily conscious of. Just as snapshots are portals for memory, I believe that these are meant to lead me to a more conscious perception of that reality.

I leapt (as in dove off a cliff) into my expansion as an artist, when I went back through my watercolor paintings and acknowledged that there were parts and pieces of many of them that moved or evoked something in me, even while the vision didn’t seem to be quite all there (wherever there was). I decided neither to settle for an unsatisfyingly inadequate vision, nor to turn my back on those vivid bits – the ones that carried the most spirit, or seemed the most true. I callously ripped those parts out of their original paint-bound format (dutifully recycling the parts that didn’t work for me) and set out to define there in new shapes, colors and textures from my extensive paper collection. By creating more fluid, multi-textured settings, I revealed images that brought me a little closer to that elusive there – opening the portal just that little bit more – and giving myself a truer glimpse into whatever it was I had connected with in those imperfectly captured trances.

My images come from different dimensions I variously designate as "Faery", "Elven", "Elemental", "Spirit realm" or "Dreams." I love it when the reactions of others corroborate my own perceptions about them. I find it even more fascinating when other people see and feel different things, or get different stories from looking at the same pieces. To me that is truly exciting and inspiring – that a picture can indeed tell a thousand different stories to a thousand different people. So maybe it’s not such a leap to posit that a picture can be a portal to "otherness," to the inner realms of imagination, archetype, myth or perhaps to other dimensions, times, places – wherever it happens to take you, or wherever you choose to go.