With a dad who was a Marine, Darlene Morris' family drove to and from many duty stations. The family would always make a stop in their home state of Nebraska to visit with friends and family if they could. Sometimes the drives took them through deserts and the only stops Darlene remembers making were for gas, food and Native American gift shops.
Darlene’s first true desert experience was moving to 29 Palms with her first husband, a Marine in 1967. They stayed for 18 months, leaving the area so he could go back to school to obtain a degree. Darlene found work locally as a bank teller. When her first husband got out of the Corps, they moved to Kansas for two years for him to finish his degree, moving back to San Diego to find work. The marriage dissolved shortly after that.
About a year later, Darlene met her current husband, who was in the Navy – Darlene admits, “I just love those guys in uniform”. Shortly after meeting, her new husband left the Navy, went back to college obtaining a degree in marriage, family and child counseling, becoming a civilian Marine counselor at Camp Pendleton. In 2005, Darlene's husband received an offer to work at the Marine Base in 29 Palms and Darlene was back ing the hi-desert.
In this episode, Darlene remembers it taking some time to get accustomed to the desert again - night time walks and star-filled skies became appealing. She recalls leaving windows and doors open all night in summer, letting the cool air in to let in with no concerns about windows and doors being unlocked – Darlene says, “It was just lovely”.
On her second round with this desert, Darlene got involved with the 29Palms art gallery – which keeps her very busy.
Darlene knew art was going to be part of her life, but never thought she’d be a professional artist. Darlene says it was the art that kept her going through high school. She still has some of her early work, one of them a hand drawn map of Russia, made with India ink and watercolors. She remembers her teacher wanting to keep it, but Darlene says she couldn’t leave it.
In banking for 19 years, art was always a part of her life. She continued attending classes or workshops to learn new mediums and techniques. Even taking community college classes for banking, then for graphic design, which changed things career-wise.
Darlene started in watercolors, but her favorite has become acrylics and her work has been selected to be in a number of juried shows.
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Photo: Peter Morris