Darrell Chitty is committed to promoting Louisiana Artists, such as local artist/photographers Fletcher Thorne-Thomsen and Jean Sartor.
The legendary Spanish artist Pablo Picasso once said: “Some people borrow ideas from others and use them. I steal them and then say “It’s mine!”
This is a favorite quote of the very talented portrait artist and photographer Darrell Chitty, though he himself subscribes only to the first half of Picasso’s equation. Basically self-taught, over the years Chitty has sought out and studied with many of the talents he considers living masters of the art.
Darrell Chitty is a Houma native who grew up in the oil transportation business, owning shipyards with his father. He migrated to the Shreveport-Bossier area around 1980 needing a change of scenery and looking for new challenges in a new occupation. He fell into the business of school photography from scratch soon after arriving in the market and continued to focus on that business, working for others until he opened Heritage Portraitsat the beginning of the 90’s.
“I decided to concentrate on smaller surrounding markets,” Chitty recalls, “so my strategy was to develop marketing representatives in each of the communities. It was the heyday of glamour photography, and we certainly did a lot of that at the time.”
Heritage also maintained a major presence in the portrait photography side of the business. As his business developed, so did Chitty. “I kept reaching for the next level of artistry,” he says, “and I also got to know and work with a number of extraordinarily gifted artists.”
Invaluable to his growing artistry were such highly regarded photographers as Joseph and Louise Simone of Montreal; Ohio photographer Jay Stock; and Scott Dupras from Marquette, Mich. “If you just see a picture and do not feel it,” Chitty says, “it’s just a photo, and not a portrait. I feel more than I see.
Chitty feels a passion for his work today that he says is even stronger than when he started. It is with that passion that he has embraced the digital age of photography and beyond limits and keeps striving to be better,” Chitty says, “I have always been a student of the great artists like Monet, Renoir and particularly, John Singer Sargent.”
As an extension of embracing the art of digital photography, just over two years ago Chitty began painting. He uses the computer to create digital brush stokes, creating a truly innovative and distinctive style.
“I feel we are at a new frontier,” Chitty asserts, “in the merging of photography and painting.”
Chitty incorporates digital imagery with other media, primarily oils and chalks. Complex sophisticated software has made these remarkable technological advances possible. Continuing his absorption of the masters among his contemporaries, Chitty has spent time studying with some of the greatest of the new breed of “digital” artists.
For the last two years Chitty has been named Louisiana Photographer of the Year by the prestigious Professional Photographers of America. A year ago, with his passion for painting growing, Chitty decided the time was right to open a gallery in Shreveport. To that end, he has recently opened Heritage Gallery just a few doors down from Superio Steakhouse in Towne Oak Square.
For Heritage Gallery, Chitty is not only displaying a selection of his own paintings, but is committed to promoting other Louisiana artists as well. He has recruited over a dozen exceptional regional artists from around the state such as naturalist photographer, C.C. Lockwood from Baton Rouge; James Michalopoulos from New Orleans. Noted local artists/photographers whose work is represented by Heritage Gallery include Fletcher Thorne-Thomsen and Jean Sartor.
Chitty’s own work today evokes an Impressionistic vision that is soft and sensual. Women and children are particular areas of interest for both his photography and painting.
Heritage Gallery is like nothing else in Shreveport — an innovative art gallery promoting world-class art and artist who just happen to be Louisiana-based. The work of Louise Guidry from St. Martinsville is particularly impressive. Her work is layered and textured, giving it a tactile presence that is a nice counter point to the spiritual simplicity of the symbolic images. Her work could hold its own in New York City, San Francisco or any major metropolitan market. The beautiful, 2000 square foot gallery is managed by Donna Savage, who moved to Shreveport a year ago from Dallas and just happens to be Chitty’s sister. Her background as owner of The Image Edge — her consulting business — gives her experience in improving image and communications skills and therefore gives her a unique aesthetic sensibility that is invaluable in running Heritage Gallery.
As his mastery of digitally enhanced painting increases, Darrell Chitty will also continue his high-end portrait photography business. He now adds a gallery to his busy schedule. Heritage Gallery will help increase Chitty’s visibility and image in Shreveport market and expose his work — and that of numerous other Louisiana artists — to a wider audience of art lovers who now have access to museum quality art in a gallery setting.
Article by Karl Hasten of the “Lifestyles Entertainment”
December, 2004 Issue