Of Artist Adventurers & Shades of Picasso

Shades of Picasso, Darla Graff Thompson

Sculpture by Darla Graff Thompson (left)
Sculptures by Pablo Picasso (right)

“The refusal to rest content, the willingness to risk excess on behalf of one’s obsessions, is what distinguishes artists from entertainers, and what makes some artists adventurers on behalf of us all.” John Updike

Are Artists Adventurers? 

First you have to decide what art is and then what’s adventure. We all have our own personal definition of what art is. As Shakespeare would say,” beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, and so it is with art. Art is what you personally perceive it to be.

It’s the same with adventure. Adventure is what you believe it to be. However, the “willingness to risk on behalf of one’s obsession,” whether it is in art or adventure, is what sets an Artist Adventurer apart from others.  Picasso was just such artist-adventurer and so is Darla Graff Thompson. You’ve heard of Picasso but probably not of Darla Graff Thompson. Here’s how we discovered her.

Art of Adventure

If you have followed Art of Adventure for any length of time you know we believe in living an adventurous life. Living an adventurous life is not necessarily about high adventure like sky diving, climbing huge mountain peaks or sailing around the world. Adventurous living is as Wilferd A. Peterson put it, opening doors to new experiences, exploring strange horizons, breaking the chain of routine and opening your mind to new ways of thinking and living.

At Art of Adventure we are always searching for new and different experiences as well as new people, places or things that might open minds to new ideas and ways of thinking.

Recently in our searches we came across a book titled erratic, ecstatic, et cetera: sculptures and poems” by Darla Graff Thompson and quite frankly we were blown away with what we discovered and think you will be too.

Darla Graff Thompson

“erratic, ecstatic, et cetera: sculptures and poems” by Darla Graff Thompson

When I sculpt, I feel a certain deep spot in my brain come alive.

Darla Graff Thompson, Art of Adventure

The artist and author Darla Graff Thompson with a sculpture entitled “enlightenment”

Darla has been making ceramic sculptures for more than 30 years.  She says ,“My creations tend to be a bit “intense” and “in your face” at some level, but for me they are a deep tap to my inner self and a very sincere expression— with their exaggerated realism and bright colors, they are a bit “cartoonish” and this adds an edge of comic relief to them.  They are intense and serious, but not to be taken too seriously.”

When I sculpt, I feel a certain deep spot in my brain come alive.  It is a place that feels unrest, a bit agitated and dissatisfied, and I try to focus on that.  It seems that the process of making the sculpture with my hands lets the pressure emanate and ease away from that place inside me.  It’s a good and happy process, full of life and creation, sometimes with hints of creativity and insight that are not particularly planned and even surprise me.”

The Weird & Wonderful World of Darla Graff Thompson
with Shades of Picasso

Now we want you to be blown away too by experiencing the weird and wonderful world of Darla Graff Thompson, a daring and unusual artist of exceptional talent. There are shades of another artist here. Not since Pablo Picasso has anyone created such unusual and interesting combinations of sculpture and prose.

Enjoy the weird, wonderful, and erratic, ecstatic world of Darla Graff Thompson. We know Picasso would have.

Darla Graff Thompson

“a tree grows in Brooklyn,” from erratic, ecstatic, et cetera by Darla Graff Thompson, pg 65 – 66.


Darla Graff Thompson, Art of Adventure

“survival of the fittest,” displayed in “Outside In” exhibit at Fuller Lodge Art Center, Los Alamos, New Mexico, 25 February – 02 April 2011. By Darla Graff Thompson


Darla Graff Thompson, Art of Adventure

“precipice” by Darla Graff Thompson


Darla Graff Thompson, Art of Adventure

“to me, fair friend” by Darla Graff Thompson


Darla Graff Thompson, Art of Adventure

“3 chickens in a teapot,” displayed in the “Trickster” exhibit at Fuller Lodge Art Center, Los Alamos, New Mexico, 16 August – 28 September 2013. By Darla Graff Thompson


We hope you have enjoyed this brief tour of Darla Graff Thompson’s sculptures.  To get a broader understanding of her work and to see more, you should see them in person if possible or enjoy them through her book.  erratic, ecstatic, et cetera: sculptures and poems. The book is especially enjoyable as each illustration has a poem or other commentary to highlight her art.

Also, her work can be seen at Fuller Lodge Art Center or Clay Studio Tour .

Darla’s art is the perfect example of what we mean by the Art of Adventure.  Tell us what you think. Leave a comment.

And remember….

Explore the Adventurous Life – Because it’s There

Join our expedition by reading our blog posts, following us on Twitter, Pinterest & Facebook

Sign up for our newsletter. Then share the experience with others. You will always be learning, challenged and never bored.

PS. Show your spirit of adventure with a Classic Art of Adventure T- Shirt. See them here.

PSS. Be on the lookout for Darla’s new book titled “viscous drag” coming out soon.  It’s sure to be an artistic adventure. As far as erratic, ecstatic, et cetera: sculptures and poems  by Darla Graff Thompson, its Art of Adventure Approved! And you can get it here.

Arto of Adventure Approved 1 copy

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