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Sterling artist fluent in unpredictable painting style

Sterling Heights resident Darla DeCook is the latest Sterling Heights Featured Artist. Her work is on display at the Sterling Heights Community Center.

 “Psychedelic Fire,” painted in acrylic on canvas, is an example of DeCook’s abstract works. DeCook said she took up fluid art and developed her own style.

“Psychedelic Fire,” painted in acrylic on canvas, is an example of DeCook’s abstract works. DeCook said she took up fluid art and developed her own style.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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STERLING HEIGHTS — As an artist who loves vibrant color and abstract designs, Darla DeCook is going with the flow.

She is the latest Sterling Heights Featured Artist for March and April. During those months, her work — including her fluid art paintings — will be on display on the second level of the Sterling Heights Community Center, according to Sterling Heights Community Relations Services Specialist Sue Giallombardo.

DeCook, who lives in Sterling Heights, said she wanted to show a variety of different art styles at the Community Center, and she described how it feels to display a sampling of her dozens of finished paintings and artwork.

“I just never displayed it anywhere, and now l’m getting my chance,” she said.

DeCook said she grew up loving art and remembers taking art classes as a child.

“I never stopped creating,” she said. “I grew up in a very creative house. My mom designed clothes for drag queens and musicians when I was a kid.”

DeCook said she continued her creative pursuits as an adult by drawing, painting and doing performance art with Noir Leather in Royal Oak.

But when the COVID-19 pandemic started in 2020, she said she had more time to work on art, experiment and try something new: fluid art.

As a form of abstract art, the painting process while making fluid art often takes on a path of its own. While DeCook picks the colors, the applied paint is often allowed to spread on the canvas in unpredictable ways.

DeCook said she discovered and learned about fluid art through YouTube tutorials. She said that while not everyone picks up the style easily, she “took to it right away the first time I followed their instructions” and then developed her own style.

“I started making my own paint mixes and experimented with the viscosities,” she said.

She explained that fluid art is more than pouring paint on a canvas and having it make random patterns. She said she sometimes uses different tools to control the overall composition, such as taking a palette knife and dragging it along the canvas.

She also said her paintings’ vibe can differ based on the colors used and her overall feelings. Some paintings are darker, some are brighter and others are black and white, she said.

Part of the vibe comes also from any surrounding music, such as punk, rockabilly and industrial, she explained.

“When I look at a painting and it’s finally done, it’s just got a certain beauty to it,” she said. “It’s all a mood thing, as well as the music I’m listening to.”

Besides fluid art, DeCook said she also makes mixed-media art and pop art that is inspired by TV, music, movies or books. As she moves ahead in her art journey, she said she is getting an art website set up.

“Ideally, I would like a space where I could sell my art,” she said. “Right now this is just a great opportunity to get my art out there.”

Jeanne Schabath-Lewis, from the Sterling Heights Arts Commission, said fluid art is a trend that she wanted to showcase and maybe even help arrange a class for in the future.

“It’s a very popular medium right now,” she said. “We thought it’d be great to give the public something that they can appreciate, enjoy.”

Find out more about artist Darla DeCook by visiting facebook.com/toomanydecooks or instagram.com/toomanydecooks. Learn more about the Sterling Heights Featured Artist Program by visiting sterlingheights.gov and typing “Featured Artist Program” in the search bar, or calling (586) 446-2489.

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