Sanford Darling

 

DARLING, SANFORD
(1894–1973)
was a self-taught artist whose
House of a Thousand Paintings,
in Santa Barbara, California, was decorated inside and out with scenes of his travels around the world.Using semigloss enamel, Darling often painted on plywood and compressed cardboard that he affixed to the walls of his house. Other vignettes, painted directly on the bungalow, reached from the risers of the front steps to the eaves under the roof. Darling even painted on his window screens, on the screened front door, andembellished his refrigerator, kitchen cabinets, and easy chairs. While Darling included some views of familiar American landmarks, he was particularly drawn to exoticvistas of Chinese and Japanese temples, snow-covered peaks, volcanoes, and uninhabited beaches. Palm trees, present in many of Darling’s landscapes, seem to offer escape from mundane cares.Darling’s art environment, with its evocation of picaresque adventures, was the culmination of a varied life. Darling had worked as a Hollywood stuntman,commercial fisherman, and chiropractor before becoming a technician for the General Petroleum Company, a position that he held for twenty-five years. Soon after Darling retired, in 1959, his wife died. Bored with fishing and golf, Darling spent six months traveling in Europe and Asia. He enjoyed this first tour so much that he setoff on a second trip, around the world, visiting almost all the places that he later depicted in his paintings.Darling welcomed visitors, and enjoyed recounting his adventures to the many guests who arrived after
Time
magazine published an account of Darling’s eccentriccreation. After Darling’s death, in 1973, the house was sold, and the paintings were dispersed.
BIBLIOGRAPHY
Cat and a Ball on a Waterfall: Two Hundred Years of California Folk Painting and Sculpture.
[exhibition catalogue] Oakland, Calif., 1986.Larson-Martin, Susan, and Lauri Robert Martin.
Pioneers in Paradise: Folk and Outsider Artists of the West Coast.
Long Beach, Calif., 1984.Rosen, Seymour.
In Celebration of Ourselves.
San Francisco, 1979