With his bike as his companion and his truck as his studio, pastel painter Darron Lillian traverses the country roads of southeast Wisconsin, looking and then looking again along familiar roadsides. “Roads lead through areas that we see every day,” he says. “We often speed through these places and don’t notice or appreciate where we are. I try to paint the everyday scene that people mostly glance at as they rush to their destination.”
Lillian also strives to make his work as honest as possible, drawing on the reality and immediacy of the surrounding landscapes. Even if he has been on the same road many times before, it might suddenly offer something new. “The unusual becomes familiar, and then you need to go back and make it unusual again.”
After years of biking and camping in the area, Lillian feels a special connection to the country roads near his home. When he began painting after a long career as the owner of a screen-printing business, he elected to focus on this familiar subject matter. He’s interested in the inevitable changes to the land that he knows so well—what he calls the “in-between land,” the edges of things between the city and the farmland. He studies where a farm has been torn down and a subdivision has gone up. “Railroad crossings, factories, road barricades, housing developments, street intersections and neighborhoods are all grist for my mill,” the artist says. “I steer away from what most people accept as beautiful and leave that for others to paint.”
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