Soleé Darrell is a Bermudian-born artist who found her home in Northern California. Her multidisciplinary artwork explores the experience and depth of being a human in this world while connecting with other worlds through practice and meditation. Her hope is to bring optimism to the viewer and bridge the gap between the intuitive and the physical.
She was generous enough to give us a tour of her magical Lagunitas home, which she shares with her husband, Conor, and their two cats, Frida and Georgia. Join us as we get to know more about her artistic process, her daily rituals, and what makes her feel at home. She recently showcased her latest work, Softness for Everybody, experimenting with color and light on velvet at Legion Projects in Healdsburg.
Thanks so much for inviting us over, Soleé. What makes your home feel like a home?
My cats, my husband, and my art! Whenever I am away I can’t wait to get home to be surrounded by those three things. We also have books and photos of friends and family that I believe to be totally irreplaceable. I also have an insane cup and glassware collection, that I have to stop *laughs*. Cups definitely bring me a little joy.
Joy is certainly what “home” is all about. What does sustainable living look like for you?
When we moved a few years ago, I made it a point that I didn’t want to buy anything new. I wanted our space to be filled with antiques, locally sourced materials, and soon, a plastic free home! We all use so much plastic, and I'd love to cut it out as much as possible. We also use vinegar-based, sustainable cleaning products; we eat less meat, or only local meat when we do; we grocery shop at Palace Market in Point Reyes Station or at our local farm stand. We waste less as we make the push to compost everything. Everything is a balance.
What drew you to your current home?
My partner and I moved to Lagunitas a year ago — I knew that I needed to get out of Oakland. While I love Oakland, the community, and always will, I felt trapped during the pandemic there. I was constantly looking around for housing, like one would scroll on instagram, and one day I typed in magical, and this place popped up. It was a little further away than we had originally hoped for, but it was a Saturday, so we thought why not go view a house?
We immediately fell in love with the space — it truly felt like a magical treehouse surrounded by nature and tranquility. The owner of the space offered it to us on the spot, although other people were interested, and it kind of all clicked into place!
What is special about your neighborhood and community?
I don’t have a big community out here, but there's a reason for that — people who move out here want that solace and relaxation. I identify with that, wanting to exist without the pressure to be social constantly. There is a community of folks who are born and raised here, and seeing that is super special. I think we’ve formed a community in the Bay Area, and moving out here, away from our community, has truly shown us which relationships are the most important to us.
My husband and I have gotten closer, and have had this beautiful opportunity to get to know one another outside of going out and socializing, as we’ve been together since our 20s. This is a different chapter and pace for us, and while the grass is always greener, we are happy here. Our circle has tightened for the time being, but it makes it that much more special.
Do you have any favorite spots in town?
There is a cute saloon nearby called Papermill Creek Saloon — every weekend there is live music which is awesome! We love going to Point Reyes Station and even past that to The Marshall Store or Nick's Cove for oysters and a view of beautiful Tomales Bay. We also love Fairfax — there is a great Vietnamese spot in Fairfax along with Stillwater, which just opened a great bottle shop with Natural Wine, a full bar, and delicious food.
What does your typical morning look like?
I typically wake up around 9 or 10. Conor’s up before me and will usually grab us coffee in town or make some and be working by the time I'm downstairs! I’ll drink coffee and make breakfast, which typically will be some sort of scramble, maybe with feta and spinach, and a piece of toast. Sometimes I have a cinnamon bun from Pump, they are SO delicious. I’ll then answer some emails and chat with my mom, as she lives in Bermuda.
Recently I’ve been trying to incorporate more meditation into my mornings, but it doesn’t happen everyday. After that, I’ll put some music or a podcast on, and set up for a painting outside on the table.
We’d love to hear more about your creative process. How do you bring your artwork to life?
For the paintings: I’ll put a tarp down on the table, then bring out the velvet fabric, which I paint with these natural fiber dyes, all from Dharma Trading Co in San Rafael. I’ll make a sample on a small piece of velvet inside to see how the colors go together, then I’ll head outside and start working. I also am making these soft sculptures right now with the velvet which is super fun.
Every art piece is intuitive based. For the velvet, I do a test strip, but still you never know how they will turn out. I had a dream about the velvet one night and have been experimenting with this new medium ever since. In my dream there was this beautiful pink velvet with a candle, so sometimes when sharing on social media, I’ll light a candle to recreate that in real time. It’s hard for people to experience art now, so the velvet is a medium that really draws and invites you in — you can have a more tactical experience with it. The pieces have pockets of emotions and existence within the art — where you go when you sleep and dream. They are mysteries that I hope everyone can resonate with or something within the piece they feel connected to.
Once you’ve finished up your work for the day, how do you like to unwind at night?
Sometimes we go to the gym or go play pickleball and then just spend time with one another at home!
What inspires your work?
Nature, lighting, movement, seasonal change, surroundings, emotions, all affect my work. Each stroke encompasses color, vulnerability, passion, texture, and complete faith in the universe.
Thank you so much for sharing your time and home with us, Soleé. We can’t wait to share your artistic vision with our community. If you love Soleé’s eye for design as much as we do, stay up to date on her most recent collections on her website.