Darren Reid precisely paints the distinctive hues and tiny details found in Venice Beach

Originally from Derbyshire, the artist took a trip to California and was instantly transfixed. We hear more about his incredibly photorealistic process.

23 September 2020
Reading Time
3 minute read


Observing Darren Reid’s work is like opening up a portal into a specific time or place. Immensely photorealistic, each painted creation depicts a unique, colourful and highly accurate representation of a location that the artist holds dearly.

An example of this can be seen in Darren’s most recent collection, a series inspired by a trip to Venice Beach. As a self-taught painter hailing from Derbyshire in the UK, he was instantly transfixed by the distinctive hues and incomparable light found in the notoriously lively beach area. It was like nothing he’d ever laid eyes on before; it was a subject waiting to be replicated.

“Venice was one of the places that impacted me greatly,” he says. “It’s such a vibrant and interesting place; really like nowhere else I’d ever visited, and I knew immediately that there would be a few paintings.” Attentive to the fluorescent colours that penetrated the Californian skies, Darren was able to open up a new and exciting palette to toy with in his works, a “complete contrast” to what he’s used to but one that he embarked on with great fervour.

Above all, an emotional response is what Darren strives to recreate in his paintings, through a specific scene, cityscape or natural landscape. “I always look for a ‘feeling’,” he says. “When I first started, my goal was to paint something half decent so that I could replace the IKEA prints on my walls. So I suppose I always paint things that interest me, something I’d hang on my own wall, regardless that I never do.” It’s important to note, however, that this physical aspect isn’t all that drives his artistic output; the success of his paintings comes down to his desire to express a diacritic moment, making each and every piece a document of his life and a vantage point on the world around him.


Darren Reid: Pacific Avenue (Copyright © Darren Reid, 2020)

Surprisingly, it wasn’t until the age of 40 that Darren fully decided to pursue his artistic interests. Despite the fact that he was naturally gifted at drawing at school, he “needed to work and contribute” and entered into the workforce at 15. “Over the years, I always had an urge to try painting, but the opportunity never arose,” he explains. “That urge never waned though.” It wasn’t until his dog fell ill and he was resultantly house-bound as a carer that he started to pick up a paintbrush. “It’s quite hard to explain really, but when I sat down with that first canvas, I just found I could paint – there were and still are many things to learn, but I found it came very naturally. It was one of those ‘I should have been doing this all along’ moments.”

Ever since he marked his first canvas eight years ago, he’s never turned back and the work has been “flooding out”. Darren’s delectably detailed scenes are a near-clone of his surroundings. His reasons for doing so are uncertain, yet it’s something that he’s always been drawn to from the outset – a move inspired by realist paintings and the work of Hans Holbein, Caravaggio, Johannes Vermeer and Bernardo Belotto.

On the topic of how he creates his scenes, it’s always begun with a visit to a location where he stays for at least a few days. “I always want to experience the locations at different times of the day and in different light conditions,” he says. “I’m trying to get a feel for the place and what it means to me, what it is I want to say in the painting.” As such he will explore, sketch and capture his observations until he returns to the studio to commence working on the composition. “The compositions are never exactly as the reality was, as I’ll move things around, add or remove elements to find the right composition.”

Taking anywhere between one and four months to complete, Darren’s paintings are a labour of love – both for the process and the places that he’s depicting on the canvas. Having just finished a painting titled Oxnard, presenting a Californian landscape, and prepped to be sent off to its US buyer, Darren is getting ready to make movements for his next piece. “I hope people enjoy my work and I hope they have an emotional response,” he says. “In the same way song writers often don’t want to say what their songs are about, I don’t really like to explain some of the deeper meanings in the paintings; I want people to take away their own meanings.”

GalleryAll paintings by Darren Reid (Copyright © Darren Reid)


The Painter




The Red House



Hero Header

Painting by Darren Reid (Copyright © Darren Reid)

Share Article

About the Author

Ayla Angelos

Ayla was an editorial assistant back in June 2017 and has continued to work with us on a freelance basis. She has spent the last seven years as a journalist, and covers a range of topics including photography, art and graphic design. Feel free to contact Ayla with any stories or new creative projects.

It's Nice That Newsletters

Fancy a bit of It's Nice That in your inbox? Sign up to our newsletters and we'll keep you in the loop with everything good going on in the creative world.