Darlene P. Coltrain arlene once claimed to me that she was born with a 2B pencil clutched tightly in her tiny fist when she came into the world on December 15, 1948. It would seem that 2B pencils have never strayed from Darlene's life ever since. "when I got a little older" Darlene told me "I took as many art classes as the California School System would allow. In college I continued to take as many art classes as possible." Darlene never got an official University degree. She felt it has been more useful for her to personally tailor a unique academic curriculum of art courses instead of pursuing a traditional degree. In other words Darlene added, "I dropped out." After college Darlene moved East to Maryland in 1969 and continued art as a crafts person designing elaborate bead necklaces to sell to "rich hippies....a rare collection of customers!" she claimed. In 1972 she returned West to Salt Lake City, Utah, where she acquired a small casting machine and a burn-out kiln. She began casting small jewelry pieces in sterling and gold. Art Fair and Renaissance Festivals became a way of life as her work continued developing. Her creations became larger in size and fantasy themes began to appear more frequently. In 1976 science fiction and fantasy literary conventions became the primary market for her work. Perhaps I should explain where I fit into this story. It was around 1978 when I first met Darlene at a Westercon SF convention held in Los Angeles. We introduced ourselves to each other over the din of a popularly attended room party of rowdy science fiction fans. Later, as post-midnight exhaustion set in I reluctantly bid goodnight to Darlene, and exited. Part of me was torn to stay and continue our conversation. Part of me intuitively knew that we might not get another chance to meet for quite a while. It turned out to have been a well grounded hunch. Due to the dynamics of our independent life-styles we somehow managed to avoid bumping into each other for close to a decade. I do recall, however, wondering for weeks after our initial meeting... if Darlene had been living closer to Wisconsin, my native state, instead of out in Utah. Perhaps in another probable universe... As fate would have it, around 1989 we eventually bumped into each other again. We sat down and had another chat in the dealers room of a pleasant Mnicon convention. I was in for a surprise. Darlene told me the fact that she had moved to Monticello Iowa, way back in 1980. Darlene had been living a mere 130 miles south-west from me for more than a decade. It caused me to review the memories of our original encounter. Not long afterwards I found myself regularly traveling through the rolling hills of Iowa paying Darlene visits on the weekend. After an extended "courtship" we eventually tied the knot in 2001. Very early in my life I did not think I would be emotionally mature enough to get married till I reached the ripe old age of 50. We actually got married after I turned 49. It is one of the few, rare predictions in my life that actually turned out to have been accurate. As many who have met Darlene know, she is a gifted multi-talented creature. It was out in the wilds of Iowa that Darlene acknowledged a growing inner need to express her creative energies in other media besides jewelry. Late on eventful night, with the jewelry work done, she pulled out a magic 2B and started drawing again. Within a short period of time whimsical fantasy color pencil drawings and masque paintings began turning up at SF&F convention art shows all over the country, as did the accompanying prizes. She has won awards such as "Honorable Mention" and "Best Pro," along with a few whimsically titled ones, too, like "Best Fantasy Bat.". Darlene later began exploring hand built polymer clay within the context of sculpted jewelry. Her works evolved into complicated feline structures like tiger faces and other mythical creatures meticulously hand assembled from "loaves", strand by strand. More recently Darlene has taken up the medium of hand painted silks. Her silk scarves have sought after items in many SF&F dealers' rooms and in art shows. She continues to explore this medium, creating ever more complicated and ambitious works. Darlene presently divides her time between creating jewelry, bead work, and hand painted silk apparel. She is beginning to explore custom made clothing built around her hand painted silks. Darlene has been represented by Fanny Garver Gallery, and the Bindley Collection, both located in Madison. Darlene's works are in SF art collections all over the country. Her creations are owned by distinguished authors such as Andre Norton Gordon R. Dickson, Virginia and the late Rober A Heinlein, C. J. Cherryh, Catherine Crook and L. Sprague De Camp, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, and Jody Lyn Nye ... just to name a few authors. Steven Vincent Johnson - 2013 aka the spousal unit
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Darlene P. Coltrain
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2D Illustration