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Due to issues with computer generated users and hacking, the forums were removed from this site. Please use the Contact form to contact me with any questions regarding my work, work for sell, commissions, or my mentoring program. Thank you!

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The Death of the Photographer … It’s time to re-invent yourself!

Let’s face it, we photographers are stubborn creatures. After all, it has been implanted in our heads all these years that if only we truly master the art of photography that the crowds will line up outside our studio doors just like they do on “Black Friday”. Perhaps there was a time this may have occurred for a few of us, but very seldom does it now happen. Unfortunately, just the opposite is experienced. Accomplished professionals now spend the majority of their time on the phone and at their computer contacting potential prospects trying to attract interest in their photography. Regretfully, most photographers are just not wired for this aggressive approach to self-promotion and spend most of their day walking the studio wringing their hands wondering from where their next dollar will come. In spite of the obvious, we photographers cling to our belief system and refuse to adjust until we have no choice but to close the studio doors forever. Oh, how I miss my many wonderful master photographer friends! The world is not nearly as beautiful without them.

There’s a line in the song “The Gambler”, You’ve got to know when to hold them, know when to fold them. Nothing speaks more to the plight of today’s professional photographer than those lines. It is my experience that we all have or will experience a day when we must draw a line in the sand and fold them! It will occur for all of us so prepare before you have no options left but to close the door for good.

My Story…
For me that day came in 2001 when I watched my senior volume drop from 800 per year to less than 400. I could see that my real competition was no longer the other professional out there in my market but gobs of amateurs, so I decided that I had to learn something that no lazy novice could ever do. In 2001 there were a few photographers experimenting with smearing pixels with “grainy water” and calling that painting. My love for traditional art told me that I had to learn something different. I got on the internet and discovered Jeremy Sutton before Jeremy Sutton was “cool”. The direction I wanted to go could not be more different than that of Jeremy’s style, but Jeremy knew the software better than anyone in the profession. I wanted to learn from the best who was not a professional photographer… a brilliant decision on my part. Jeremy is a master teacher with the patience of Job and the mind of Franklin. Today I am in a state-of-the-art studio/gallery reaching a market no one in my community can touch–a market that will never accept the ordinary.

Do not think that the journey has been an easy one to travel. Many, many times I have thrown images away in total frustration, questioning if the thousands of dollars spent in education and experimentation were worth it. While I still get frustrated with my growth and continue to throw away inferior work, I do so now by comparing my creations with those of the great masters of art. I know that with every failure I am steadily moving forward. It just doesn’t get any better than this!

Better to Give than to Receive…
While I continue to grow and learn more every day, I do believe now is the time to share these experiences with others in a very unique and intimate manner. I do know how to “reinvent myself” and to actually make money with the “New Me”. Art may be my passion but business development is my education. Besides a Masters of Photography I also have a MBA and am a full-time college professor teaching fine art photography, graphic design, and business development for photographers. I do love teaching, although most of my students would say that I am better suited to be a drill sergeant in the Army.

In the past I have conducted week-long workshops and will continue to conduct one workshop every summer. However, in the future these workshops will be only for those students who have studied with me in the past regardless of their experience with digital painting. In addition, I have been asked countless times about DVDs I might produce. After consideration I have concluded that these will be too time consuming and costly to justify the effort. So here it is, a mentoring program for the SERIOUS student desiring to learn how to create art in the same manner as the great masters of the past PLUS a mentoring program designed to teach the “old-timers” out there how to reinvent themselves and actually make money in the process.

Two Mentoring Options:

Option One – The Painter’s Touch
This program is designed for those who wish to develop the painting skills necessary to create beautiful art but are not concerned with the business of marketing their art. Three plans are available all of which will lead to student through my mental and physical approach to painting. Each plan will feature a particular master artist, his life, and his painting technique. The study will be three months in length and will include two online webinars which will be recorded and provided to the student, which then may then be stored in his or her personal digital library for follow-up study. In addition, students will be admitted access to The Painter’s Touch Blog in which I answer questions and provide painting tips. On this blog you may share your work with the entire group, and an added feature will be mixing with members of the Dead Artist Society, a select group of extremely talented artist whom I call on for my personal growth and inspiration.

Plan A: Three month program … $300
Receive two 2-hour webinars
The Painter’s Touch Blog
One personal phone conference each month to discuss student progress
Admittance to my summer 4-day workshop in St. Francisville, Louisiana … only $400


Plan B: Six Month Program … $500

Receive four 2-hour webinars
The Painter’s Touch Blog
Two personal phone conferences each month to discuss student progress
Admittance to my summer 4-day workshop in St. Francisville, Louisiana … only $400

Plan C: Twelve Month Program … $800
Receive eight 2-hour webinars
The Painter’s Touch Blog
Two personal phone conferences each month to discuss student progress
Admittance to my summer 4-day workshop in St. Francisville, Louisiana … only $300

Option Two – Master Strategies for Success … $1,500
Let’s face it, very few artists make enough money to survive in their profession. That is why they call them “starving artist”. I made a decision years ago that I was not going to be one of those people. Over the years I have tested many strategies that did not work and a few that did work. This plan is for those of you who want not only to create art but must develop a proven and effective way to find clients who will crave your art and will be willing to pay big bucks in return. My formula for success works if you are willing to work it! There is no shortcut to success. Both you and I will be working very hard to reach your goals. Therefore, before anyone is admitted into Option Two, prospects will be carefully screened to determine if this plan is indeed for them. There must be an exact chemistry between the student and the mentor to assure success.

Receive the twelve month Painter’s Touch program above
Three Master Strategies for Success webinars with syllabus
A minimum twelve personal phone conferences to monitor growth
Two full day marketing workshop at my studio/gallery in Shreveport, Louisiana … only $200

To excel in art and in business requires a passion that very few individuals in the world have. Greatness is not wasted on the slacker but is given grudgingly to only the very few. Recognize that fact, embrace it, enjoy the journey and finally revel in the thought that you can achieve greatness.

The difference between a successful person and others is
not a lack of strength,
not a lack of knowledge,
but rather a lack in will.
~
Vince Lombardi

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Welcome to Darrell Chitty’s Digital Art Site

The world wide web is full of blogs dedicated to digital art. Some of them are worth your time exploring. Others are simply dedicated to making pretty pictures. What makes this site any different?

About Darrell Chitty… He is a 30 years survivor as a portrait photographer with a fascinating resume as a master photographer, as an artist and as an author. He is also a college professor of Fine Art with a focus on digital art and art history. Darrell also has an entrepreneurial spirit, a rare combination for an artist. He has a MBA with an emphasis in marketing and has been involved in the creation of several business enterprises. Of all his varied interest, however, the exploration and creation a fine art is what fans his flame.

Creating and Marketing Art with a focus on the Old Masters… Ten years ago with the advent of digital photography Darrell noticed that his successful photography business was gradually losing sales volume. He saw the writing on the wall, either change or die. With his passion for both photography and traditional art he decided to commit himself to developing a technique where photographers could learn to create digital/traditional art using the inspiration of the great masters of art.

One thing was certain, he did not want to simply smear pixels around on his computer screen. His unique approach is to become deeply absorbed in the life and painting technique of great masters and carefully blend those techniques into his own personal style. This insured that his painting style would not just look like every other photographer/digital painter in the country.

Darrell’s painting style is complex and challenging. It is not for the faint-hearted photographer who simply wants to dabble in digital art. His style is difficult to learn for a reason. He wants only the serious artist to master it.

Techniques of the Masters… Very soon Darrell will be revealing a new series of on-line webinars, summer workshops and DVD’s demonstrating his painting techniques using several key old masters as his inspiration. This blog will be a resource center to provide support for this study.

Artist Mentoring Program… Two different mentoring programs are being developed for the serious student desiring to take their art to a much higher level.

The first program is an one year on-line training program which can be renewed every year. It will include a 20-presentation study of featured masters and their painting styles. Darrell will demonstrate his painting method to duplicate each style. Three different masters will be featured during the 20 study year with the first three artist being the Impressionist painters Monet, Renoir and Degas. Companion PDF’s will be provided to assist the student in their studies. The investment for this on-line program is $35 per 90 minute webinar, $300 for 10 on-line webinars or $400 for the entire year.

The second mentoring program is designed for those students desiring hands-on attention with their personal growth and development as an artist. It will include the 20 study webinar plus personal tutoring and development of a unique painting style. Also included will be a sharing of Darrell’s proven marketing techniques that have completely revolutionized his way of generating income with his art. An evaluation of your trade market and a customized marketing strategy is a focal point of this mentoring alternative. Darrell will be available to come to your community and studio for a two-day research and training period. Your only cost will be room and travel expenses. You will also qualify for one half off on attending one of four summer workshops conducted in beautiful South Louisiana plantation country. We will reside and study on the grounds of a 1790′s plantation, the perfect environment for the creation of art. The investment for the one year, one-to-one mentoring program is only $995.

A three part DVD series is presently being prepared. More details will be available during the summer.

For more information you may e-mail Darrell at: darrellchitty@yahoo.com or you may contact him at 318-390-6439.

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The Times They Are A-Changing

Photographers, it’s time you also made some changes!

In 1964 Bob Dylan wrote a song that rings out to today’s photographer. Digital has changed our business forever. Both a blessing and a curse, the digital revolution demands we either adapt and change with the times or close our doors.

This happened to me…

While attending a social function in which several of my long-time clients were also attending, I overheard two of my finest clients sharing images one of the two had recently received from a photo session conducted by the local high school principal.

I know [said one client to the other]. These aren’t nearly as good as Darrell’s work, but aren’t these nice, and for the savings in price, how could I ignore the opportunity? I simply posed the girls myself as I had watched Darrell do so many times and the photographer just snapped the camera. perhaps you should give him a call.

How could I be hearing this from two wonderful friends whose children knew me by a special nickname they personally invented just for me? I can even show you the sweet handwritten thank you notes I received from the girls after they attended my elaborate (and costly) annual Easter Fest. These were the same children I photographed while still in Mommy’s tummy.

Are stories like this keeping you up at night wondering what went wrong? Where are my customers going? Am I losing my touch and skill as a photographer? Is my competition that much better than I am?

Twenty years ago you could find the early signs of this problem standing near the Wal-Mart photo copying booth as you watched parents attempting (and succeeding) to scan paper proofs and then print out 8x10s and larger. Today, we just go to Best Buy and watch out future competition check out with their fancy $400 digital cameras, computers, scanner and printers, and a software CD with the introductory version of Photoshop.

Cannot my customers understand that my equipment costs many times that much? Do they not realize that I have invested 27 years and thousands into personal training? Don’t they know that I am a Master Photographer and have the ribbons to prove it? How can this be happening to me? Must I start substitute teaching at my new competitor’s high school just to make up some of the lost revenue?

Where do we photographers go from here? What do we do to stop this financial landslide? Admit it, most of us no longer have the same ambitious drive we one did… the youthful and optimistic spirit that said, “I’ll show them. I’ll just out produce them by lowering my prices and attract more clients with a new ingenious marketing plan. I’ll create a concept so incredible that these unfaithful clients will come crawling back and asking my forgiveness!”

When adversity knocks at the door, Greatness answers

Hostory is full of examples where greatness emerged out of adversity. For example, Monet did caricatures of public figures. Renoir painted pots and glasses, and Pissaro painted window shades when times were tough. John Singer Sargent desired to paint and sell like the Impressionists, but found the public would not accept his images, so he resorted to painting portraits of the elite in Europe. How lucky we are that he did! Sargent still lives, at least he does in my heart and painting aspirations.

My Story

Ten years ago I began to sense a changing in the public mindset towards professional photography in my area. Business was still good, but there was something brewing to force me to consider other alternatives which might better secure my position in the minds of the public. I wanted to be known as an “Artist” and not as a photographer. Please understand, I have the very highest regard for photography, but the Yellow Pages are packed with photographers while there are NO artists anywhere to be found.

The first step to becoming an artist is to admit that you are not one

The next landmark career change came when I decided that my photography needed to look more like art. Painter 6 had just come out, but I barely knew how to turn my computer on. How was I going to learn to use this confusing program? I did know one thing – I wanted to learn from a painter’s point of view and not from that of a photographer. I dreamed of being able to recreate the look of Sargent. After careful research on the internet I can across the name “Jeremy Sutton.” This was even before he became popular among PPA associations. His credentials were impressive and it appeared he had the technological expertise to teach even an old dog like me. How right I was! His wonderful teaching style encouraged me to follow my own vision.

Singing my own song…

Corel Painter has unleashed a plethora of want-to-be-painters. My determination is to not follow in that direction. The images I create must look like me and must meet the following criteria:

  1. My paintings must be paintings. If I am asked, “Is this a photograph or a painting?”, I’ve failed. When one views the paintings in my gallery, they must leave no doubt that they are paintings. Not only must they look like paintings, they must feel like and smell like paintings.
  2. My paintings must adhere to the same fundamentals as practiced by the great masters - values, edges, color & light, composition and technique.
  3. My paintings must look expensive. Presentation is everything. The brushstroke, the finish technique, the frame selection and the letter of authenticity – it must all project value.
  4. My paintings must be difficult to create. The more effort and knowledge necessary to create the image, the better! Why? Few photographers and fewer advanced amateurs are willing to invest the time and money necessary to follow my steps. A typical painting requires about 20 hours to produce when spread over about a week. Who are we to think our images should be worthy of being classified as paintings when the traditional master painters labored weeks and months to produce.

I Believe…

I believe that for photographers, failure to adapt to the changing winds will bring certain doom. Business as usual is no longer an option we can afford to follow. Mom and Dad are becoming pretty good photographers.

On a more positive note, I believe that now, today we are on the precipice of a new awakening in the world of art and photography. Never before have the two disciplines merged closer than now. Just as the Impressionists were willing to take the latest technologies of their day and then step outside the boundaries of their time, today’s explorers are blending the traditions of yesterday with the digital revolution of today to compose a new song – one with notes and modulations never before heard.

I believe that the next great masters will emerge from the ranks of photography not from traditional painters.

Photographers, Bob Dylan’s song could not be more reflective of our profession.

“The Times They Are A-Changing”
We must find our own unique song and create under its spell.

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Photographers, Its Time to Sing Your Own Song

Have you ever heard of Ernest Meissonier? Unless you are a serious art history student, probably not. he was only proclaimed to be the greatest of all French painters of all times and was the highest paid “history painter” in Paris during the late 1800s.

If you have heard of Monet, Renoir, Manet and Degas, surely you would have heard of the great Meissonier. Why not? His paintings sold for fortunes when the above artists’ work could not even be given away.

Meissonier may have been good, but over time, he was deemed no better than any other of the many “history painters” of that era – buried forever in the grave of ordinary.

Does it matter to you whether you are recognized for making some significant contribution to our profession or are you simple marking your time on life’s stage only to fade into oblivion?

George Washington Carver said it best…

No individual has any right to come into this world and go out of it without leaving behind him distinct and legitimate reasons for having passed though it.

Perhaps this sounds like you?

What I have suffered is beyond words. What I suffer at this actual moment is terrible. Now I am convinced I am lost for the future.

Now listen to the end of this quote from the great painter Pissarro in 1879…

Nevertheless, it seems to me that I would not hesitate, if I had to start again, to follow the same path.

What power we find in these words – belief and persistence, perhaps the two greatest qualities of successful people. Little did Pissaro know that his years of struggle were about to end. Worldwide recognition was just around the corner for him and his friends Monet, Renoir, Degas, Sisley, Bazille and Morisot – the great leaders of the revolutionary “Impressionist” art movement which has changed forever the way we see our beautiful world.

However, tragedy lies in the realization that so many more travelers go to their grave with their dreams unrealized, without having first sung their own unique song.

How wonderful, how exhilarating it is to sing a special song. It is even more extraordinary for seven souls to meet by chance at the same time, in the same place, all singing in unison the same song. This is exactly the experience in the late 1860s when the sing of Impressionism was first heard.

Was this experience just happenstance, never to have occurred before or ever again? NO! In fact, it did occur in the 15th century Florence, starting with Giotto and then followed by Donatello, Botticelli, DaVinci, and Michelangelo.

It is easier to sing with a chorus than to sing a solo!

The great masters found courage, inspiration and companionship. Monet mentioned many times that he doubted his ability to continue on has it not been for his support group. Together they created, discussed, argued, and then created again. Oh, if only we could be part of such a magical group… what greatness would emerge!

Why does not greatness occur more frequently? Why is it so difficult to not only once hear the song, but to continue hearing? The answer is that so few of us have the ability to see beyond the present. Perhaps our song is being drowned out by the need to survive – our need to “make a living.” The irony lies in the realization that “real living” occurs only when we are free of the burden to make it. How do we set ourselves free?

Two Observations from the Past

  1. There’s power in numbers. It becomes much easier to continue hearing your song when you are striving among friends who share a common passion and understanding. Though the years led the great masters to go in different directions, these bonds of mutual love and respect remained strong until death.
  2. Find yourself a “Patron.” In both Florence and again in Paris, true creativity was fully unleashed after the “patron” was found. This was someone of means who believed enough in the artist to provide the financial support necessary for the artist to continue without the constant worry of survival.

So you say, that was then, this is now! Patrons no longer exist, or do they?

Today we must create our own patrons. We do this with imagery so unique, so breathtaking that clients seek us out. But it takes more than being unique. We must also develop the marketing techniques that will bring clients in the door.

“The Times, They Are A-Changing”

In 1964, Bob Dylan wrote a song that rings out to today’s photographer. Digital has changed us forever. Both a blessing and a curse, the digital revolution demands we either adapt and change with the times or close our doors.

Maybe, just maybe it is time to take a lesson from the past and reinvent ourselves. Isn’t it time we provided a product and a USP (unique selling proposition) that cannot be duplicated by anyone else – our very own fingerprint, out own special song. Who knows, perhaps another Karsh, Adams or Weston will emerge from the experiment.

What would happen if today’s artists were part of a society of believers who provided encouragement and not ridicule? Would it be too far removed to believe that a new renaissance were right around the corner?

A New Awakening

Today we are on the precipice of a new awakening in the world of art. Just as the Impressionists were willing to take the latest technologies of their day and then step outside the boundaries of their time, today’s explorers blend the traditions of yesterday with the digital revolution of today with a new song, one with new notes and new modulations never before heard.

A new society of artists has been born – join and create. The Dead Artists Society is the place for you! Check out thedeadartistsociety.com to take your creativity to new heights.

Fifty years after the impressionists, the great American painter and educator, Robert Henri, said it best…

There are moments in out lives, there are moments in a day when we seem to see beyond the usual – become clairvoyant. Such are the moments of our greatest happiness. Such are the moments of our greatest wisdom.

It is in the nature of all people to have these experiences, but in our time and under the conditions of out lives, it is only a rare few who are able to continue in the experience and find expression for it.

At such times, there is a song going on within us, a song to which we listen. But so few are capable of holding themselves in the state of listening to their song.

And so, we must all listen carefully for our unique song. Sing loudly and finally create under its spell!

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A Week with Monet – According to the Students

Here are some comments from students who attended “A Week with Monet” in September of 2007.

Hal Kern, Master of Photography, Cr.

A hands on workshop with Darrell Chitty cannot get any better than the one I participated in September. I thought I knew Painter; however, I found out how little I knew. He is a Master’s Master and I would recommend that anyone who would like to create paintings in the style of Monet and Sargent needs to study with this Master.

Michelle East

Thank you for a life changing workshop! I have a vision for something much larger for myself than I had before. Since returning I have worked on painting and i just like it. Your concepts help me put what is in my mind and heart onto canvas. In talking to my clients about my visions for painting, the response has been extremely positive. I am looking forward to becoming a member of the Dead Artists Society!

Kennard Halacker

Again, thank you for a great week. Not only did you share with us your knowledge of Painter, but your love for the beauty of all those wonderful plantation homes in St. Francisville. I am truly grateful for just the opportunity to spend time with such a fine group of great photographers, or should I say upcoming portrait artists. I cannot begin to tell you how much this week advanced my career, not to mention the monetary prospects. I appreciate your patience with me as I progressed slowly in Painter. i definitely am going to join the Dead Artists Society.

Tim McCary

Darrell, thanks for all you did! It’s very uncommon to find an artist of your caliber that is also an equally talented teacher. This was the best instruction I have had in years (decades actually)!

Cindy Gray

Thank you so very much for inviting me to attend your workshop. I have grown tremendously during this past week. You have inspired me on every level from exposing is to the Master Painters of the past to selflessly demonstrating your personal technique with boldness and passion. You have challenged me to take what I have learned and to apply it in some way to my own developing artistic style.

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Photographes Paradise: Picture Perfect St. Francisville, Louisiana

Fanning The Flame: that’s what one springtime photographic workshop in the St. Francisville area is entitled, and the entire region is so rich in artistic opportunities that it does indeed fuel the creative passions for photographers and artists of every stripe. Since the early 1820′s when artist-naturalist John James Audubon painted a large number of his famous Birds of America studies in the area, this lush little corner of Louisiana’s Plantation Country has proven irresistible to creative spirits due to its unspoiled landscapes, amazing architecture, plentiful wildlife and just plain picturesqueness.

ParlourThere are several resident photographers whose works may be purchased in the West Feliciana Historical Society’s museum and tourist information center in downtown St. Francisville. Pat Walsh with his wife owns and operates the St. Francisville Inn, and the two of them have been the inspiration behind many of the special events like the Audubon Birdfest each spring offering guided field trips into the more remote reaches of the parish for unsurpassed birding and photographing. A creative soul who is an accomplished chef and a whiz on the computer, Walsh has lately become enthused with photography, combining his talents by manipulating his architectural and nature photos on the computer to create real works of art. At both the St. Francisville Inn and the tourist center, visitors can purchase for extremely reasonable prices his prints of area plantations and landscapes. Another local photographer, Yolanda D’Aquilla, wife of St. Francisville’s mayor, offers for sale lovely black and white studies of some area scenes as well. In addition, Backwoods Art Gallery often exhibits works by Carin Carlson, St. Francisville artist whose incredible colorful close-ups of orchids showcase her skills as both painter and photographer.

The end of March, the Fanning The Flame workshop attracts photographers from across the country for a week-long session led by enormously talented impressionist artist Darrell Chitty, two-time Louisiana Photographer of the Year, and Arthur Rainville, called “the Poet Laureate of Photography,” in an inspiring experience offering live costumed models, historic plantations, hands-on assistance with the computer program Corel Painter, an in-depth study of the artistic techniques of Old Masters like Monet and Sargent, creativity sessions and marketing advice. Information is available from Darrell Chitty at (318)349-9085.

PorchBut it isn’t necessary to be a professional photogapher to find inspiration for sensational shots in St. Francisville, and March is the perfect time to do it. The annual Audubon Pilgrimage the third weekend of the month offers everything a photogapher could possibly dream of: lovely ladies and dashing gents authentically garbed in 1820′s costumes, antebellum gardens abloom with colorful azaleas and camellias, doors flung wide for visits to historic private plantation homes like Wakefield and Rosale and Catalpa, demonstrations of old-time skills at the rustic Rural Homestead, evening entertainments and ghostly graveyard tableaux. Information is available by telephone at 225-635-4224 or online at www.audubonpilgrimage.info.

But quiet little St. Francisville is a year-round tourist destination, its peaceful thoroughfares shaded by ancient live oaks, the glorious galleries of its Victorian homes dripping with gingerbread, melodic hymns wafting through the stained glass windows of its historic churches, its main street still the viable center of life with small shops and restaurants filling restored structures. The entire downtown area, once the cultural and commercial center of the surrounding plantation country, is a National Register Historic District attesting to its architectural and historical significance. The photographic possibilities in town are endless, and within a few miles are half a dozen of Louisiana’s most interesting plantations, each representing a different period of life in this unique corner of the state. Surrounding the area are the Tunica Hills, one of the most biologically diverse wilderness areas in the South, with steep hills and deep cool hollows supporting an enormous variety of flora and fauna, some seen nowhere else in Louisiana. It’s enough to drive a photographer batty!

The earliest plantations, The Cottage, Butler Greenwood and The Myrtles, all are similar in style, unpretentious raised cottages typical of the first-generation structures dating from the 1790′s, when the first valiant efforts were made to tame the virgin woodlands and till the rich river bottomlands into vast fields of indigo and cotton, prospering sufficiently that the planters along the Great River Road from New Orleans to Natchez comprised a large percentage of America’s mid-1800′s millionaires. The houses they built reflected their status. By the time the second and third generations of these plantation families built homes in English Louisiana in the 1830′s, they had prospered sufficiently to afford grand Greek Revival structures like Rosedown and Greenwood, much more formal and elaborate than the first-generation houses. Non-typical Oakley Plantation, completed in the early 1800′s, shows West Indies influence with jalousied galleries connected by exterior stairs, and it was the need of a tutor for the daughter of the family here that brought Audubon to the plantation in pursuit of his dream of painting all the birds of the young country America.

Photographers and other visitors can tour these plantation homes and gardens daily, finding a wealth of photographic opportunities at each. Guests can even stay overnight in a number of them, and there are other fine B&Bs in the area as well, both historic townhouses in St. Francisville and golf resorts and lakeside properties in the surrounding countryside. After touring the plantations, photogaphers will want to spend some time in the scenic unspoiled wilderness of the Tunica Hills, a rugged region around St. Francisville that has long attracted enthusiastic hikers, bikers, birders, nature photographers, horseback riders and hunters. Ranging from St. Francisville northwest along the Mississippi River on north into Tennessee, these are actually foothills of the Appalachians, loessial ridges created by dust storms of the Glacier period which swept in from the western plains carrying powdery fertile soil to form vertical cliffs up to 90 feet high resting on the sand-clay bottom of an ancient sea bed.

With habitat areas ranging from the hilly bluffs and steep shady ravines of the uplands to the swampy river bottomlands and hardwood forests, bird photogaphers find the area still harbors the same rich abundance of birdlife that so inspired Audubon in the 1820′s. Cat Island National Wildlife Refuge is one of the largest tracts of virgin wetland forest along the Mississippi River not protected by levees from cyclical flooding. Sometimes inundated by 15 to 20 feet of water in the spring, Cat Island supports huge populations of wintering waterfowl, as well as the world’s largest bald cypress tree, believed to be 800 to 1500 years old and 83 feet tall. One of the most enjoyable ways to take in the scenery of the Tunica Hills region is on horseback, and Cross Creek Stables offers gaited horses for three-hour morning or afternoon rides along the sunken roadbed of the historic Old Tunica Road or on trails in the wildlife management area.

For photographers, St. Francisville and the surrounding plantation hill country provides prime possibilities, architectural studies, portraiture, nature shots, landscapes. Each season of the year presents unique perspectives, and Louisiana’s changeable weather also provides inspiration for photographers the morning mist rising from the river, the fog-shrouded Victorian headstones of the historic cemeteries, the rays of sunlight piercing the canopy of overhanging live oaks hung with Spanish moss, the pouring rain seen through a lace-curtained window, the deepening twilight as the barn swallows circle and shadows fall. The St. Francisville area abounds in scenes and settings and seasons guaranteed to fan the flame of creative passion in every photographer, regardless of level of skill.

St. Francisville is located on US Highway 61 on the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge, LA, and Natchez, MS. For online coverage of tourist facilities, attractions and events in the St. Francisville area, see www.stfrancisville.us, www.stfrancisville.net or www.stfrancisvilleovernight.com, or telephone (225) 635-4224 or 635-3873.

- Anne Butler

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Framing Beauty with the Brush

Shreveport Times LogoLocals might know Darrell Chitty better as their son’s or daughter’s high school graduation photographer.

But with his new art gallery, the artist is letting the public know there’s more to his work than just a click and a smile.

The south Louisiana native started Heritage Portraits in Bossier City 25 years ago and more than a month ago opened Heritage Gallery, an art gallery and frame shop, to showcase his own photographs and paintings as well as those of local and regional Louisiana artists.

Chitty fell into the business side of photography following a career with his father in oil transportation in south Louisiana. It was only later when he started educating himself in photography that he embraced it as an art form. He then took the medium a step further, hybridizing the photo-realism of film and the brush strokes of oil painting.

Chitty got his bachelor’s degree in marketing from Harding University in Arkansas and then went on to get his master’s degree in business at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. Chitty, who was the Professional Photographers of Louisiana Inc.’s 2003-04 Louisiana Photographer of the Year, lives with his wife, Nona, in Bossier City.

QUESTION: Your art seems to bring out the most flattering side of your subjects.

ANSWER: To me, everybody’s beautiful. And I think one of the talents I do have, if I have some, is that I can interpret beauty in a person very well. And I have the knack of pulling that beauty out and I try to isolate that beauty and try to show it and, using the concept of simplicity, I diminish all the other competition from it and so you see that beauty.

QUESTION: Some of your paintings are photo-realistic, and then the background is very impressionistic. How would you define that style?

ANSWER: That’s exactly what I’m trying to do. And it may be that it’s hard to separate myself from the realness of photography. It’s a difficult thing to make that transition as a photographer ’cause I’m so used to it being perfect. What I do is I call my style expressive realism, expressive being the setting, the textures and the clothes, but I’ll maintain that realness in the areas that I think have the most impact.

QUESTION: You’ve said your favorite style is Impressionism. Why?

ANSWER: Impressionism allows you to participate in it. It doesn’t give all the details the Flemish painters used to give you. All that minute detail. You didn’t leave anything for the imagination.

QUESTION: What’s your painting process?

ANSWER: I paint initially (from photographs) with my computer. I do the whole thing. I create the whole image and I take that image and totally repaint it. If you were to go to the original image, the setting would look nothing like that. The colors were not there. And this is where I try to bring in the same approach an artist would with a real brush in his hand. And I try to build it in the same manner he would and after I’ve done that, I have it printed by a lab, it’s a digital file, and I have it printed on canvas. It’s printed on canvas and I go back after that and put oils into it and add more depth and dimension into it.

QUESTION: Where does your technique fit in?

ANSWER: I think we’re in a revolutionary period in art that it will forever be changed because of what we’re doing now. And anybody who looks down on it, they look down on it for the most part because they don’t know how to do it. They’ll embrace it when they figure out how to do it. But even if it is done electronically, it’s not like pushing a button. That is me in there just as much as John Singer Sargent had painted it. It is him and it’s me. I interpret my subject in a way that only I would interpret it. So it’s still genuine and it’s still real, and it’s still art.

QUESTION: Has anyone ever criticized your technique?

ANSWER: I didn’t know how the public would respond to it, but they gravitate to my work because they’ve never seen anything like it. … There are some that do it, but there aren’t many that do it. So I’ve been able to take the best of both mediums.

by Jennifer Flowers

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Art: Heritage Proud of State Its In

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

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© 2004-2014, Darrell Chitty.