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Darlene Maestes 2013



Naja Featured Artist Interview:

Darlene L. Maestas

“Metal Meets Color”

Naja Art Gallery 2013


Darlene Maestas has been an artist her entire life. She originally started in the fashion design industry but her passion quickly turned to creating pieces that perked her interest in collecting fine art. There is not a time in Darlene’s life when she wasn’t doing art – she states it is simply not in her reality to not be creating. When Darlene would see pieces of art she wanted but could not afford she simply tried to recreate the pieces she coveted. While Darlene was a young mother she looked forward to “art time” with her kids as well as loving naptime that would give her a few minutes to create. Art at the Maestas home was a family affair – with kids and husband helping out. Not comfortable with traditional 9-5 jobs, Darlene has created a successful business of selling her art. Maestas states, “I’ll never stop making art. I dream about it – starting each day with the question of what should I make today.”

Naja employee Casey McGovern and I had the delightful opportunity to visit Darlene’s two studios when helping her pick out which pieces she’d like to showcase in her exhibition. Walking into Darlene’s house is like walking into a wonderful, quirky, colorful art gallery. Her workspaces in both studios are spotless (how can that be??!) and very organized. She always has more than 4 or 5 projects going at one time. This way she can be working nonstop –from loading her glass kiln to picking up a paintbrush, to pounding out metal. We were amazed with the scope and diversity of Darlene’s work and her prolific inventory. It was inspiring to see how Darlene’s style is so easy to pick out whether it is done in metal, glass or paint.

Do you have formal training in making jewelry?

I have taken meatalsmithing I, II and III; metal carving; resin; fusing silver; PMC; etching: silver reticulation; fold forming; glass enameling; anticlastic raising, casting and stone carving. My metal formal training has been done exclusively at the Denver School of Metal Arts (located next door to the Naja Tool & Supply, inc and owned and operated by Travis Ogden and Darlene Armstrong). My life’s work in other art disciplines (painter, sculptor and carver) cannot be overlooked, as I believe that it lends greatly to my work as a jewelry artist.

Do you have an all time favorite piece that you have made?

At this moment I don’t have an all time favorite piece. I have been working on my own unique style; therefore, as I keep creating, I am finding that my style just keeps developing as I go. I really enjoy the artistic form of metals enhanced with color. I do have several art pieces that I have done that will be personal heirlooms and my other favorite pieces are the ones that have touched or inspired other people.

What is your favorite part of the creative process?

This is an easy question for me. It is definitely the design process. To include color and texture to my designs is what I really enjoy.

What does a perfect day in your studio look like?

A perfect day in my studio is when the technical process and the creative process go well together to accomplish finished piece of jewelry or when I have had a creative thought and can’t wait to get started. I have a Studio in the Sane Fe Art District in Denver and a small Studio in my home where it is very easy for me to get to work any time. (Author note – I happen to know that Darlene watches cooking channels while she works at home – this gets her inspired to cook – another passion of this diverse artist!)

Who or what has inspired your work?

The Denver School of Metal Arts (DSMA) has many workshops that I have attended. Darlene Armstrong, owner and teacher, has been my mentor and friend who has taught and inspired me to pursue my art in this medium. Combined with my background in other art forms, it is most gratifying to know that everything I have ever done in the art world prior to this has come full circle in what I am now doing in jewelry.

What is on your workbench now?

There is never just one thing on my bench. Currently I am forming wax that is to be cast and combined with my raku faces to form several pendants; I am carving a piece of glass for another pendant; and I am finishing up several enamel pieces that are almost ready for the kiln.