We’re just days away from December, and that means a new ART@EPL exhibit will soon be up in the children’s wing — this time featuring local artist Abe Darlington.

Art isn’t something Abe pursued until relatively recently, and is still something he does in addition to his full-time profession — a profession we feel pretty confident you probably wouldn’t guess on your first or third try.

Read on to find out what Abe’s ‘day job’ is and what led him to pick up a paintbrush — plus, watch him create a painting from start to finish.

Be sure to stop by the library after Dec. 2 and throughout the month to view and enjoy Abe’s work up close in the children’s wing.

When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
I enjoyed art since I was a kid; however, I never created much if any art until a little more than two years ago. In 2018, I had to undergo a shoulder surgery that caused me to be homebound for six weeks. Living on my own and unable to drive, I had to find some way to occupy my time. I purchased a cheap art kit from a local art store, began drawing and painting, and the rest is history.

When did you decide to pursue it as a career? Where did you go for your training?

Currently I do not create art for a living. I teach Astrophysics and tutor mathematics full-time. I never attended art school nor have I ever taken an art class. I taught myself everything I know to this day. Reading, experimentation, and reflection all played a role in the development of my artistic skills.

What has been your hardest challenge, and how did you overcome it?

Honestly? It’s been trying to create and display art on a reasonable budget. Good art supplies are very expensive. I’ve learned to get very creative with what I use to make art. In the past I’ve painted using rubber spatulas, plastic silverware, mixing bowls, old credit cards, bubble wrap, crayons, and plastic grocery bags. In place of canvas, I’ve used cardboard and different types of poster board.

What achievements are you most proud of?

I would say it is exposing people to a new realm of the art world. Many people I’ve met through my experiences had knowledge of landscape painting and figurative art. However, they had never had the chance to experience abstract art. More than once it has opened a patron’s eyes to a completely new form of painting and human expression. Many of my patrons previously had no interest in art but have pursued their own interests in creating after seeing what I’ve done. Being able to inspire others is a great feeling. It’s a reminder that I’m making a positive impact on people.

What’s your advice for anyone who wants to explore art, but can’t seem to find the time or feels intimidated by a blank canvas?

Have a growth mindset. Many people I’ve met have said “I wish I could paint and draw” — or — “I don’t have a creative gene in my body.” The truth is neither did I. When I first began, I had no idea what I was doing or how to go about doing it. It took years and hundreds of paintings before I really developed as an artist.

It’s important to remember that art is a skill. Like any skill it develops through dedicated practice, patience, and a willingness to learn and improve your skills. If you are new to painting and your expectation is that you will create a masterpiece on your first try, then you have set yourself up for disappointment. If you have reasonable standards and goals, then you will improve little by little with each passing day.

Art is a journey, not a destination. In that journey, you discover that your style changes over time just as you change as a person.

Watch Abe create a painting from start to finish in this short (3-minute) video — no Dropbox account required.


ART@EPL is the library’s exciting partnership with the Lehigh Art Alliance and the Lehigh Valley Arts Council. The series is funded through a grant from PA Partners in the Arts, making it possible for area residents to enjoy free art lectures, exhibits, and workshops from local artists working in pastels, charcoal, sculpture, and watercolor among others.