About The Artist
Kent Paulette is a self taught artist who paints under the name Derfla. He uses uninhibited, energetic brush strokes and knife marks to create paintings with thick icing-like textures. Derfla lives in North Carolina where he paints in a studio overlooking the mountains. On nice days he grabs his easel and heads out to the deck to paint in the sunshine. He also regularly hops into the mountain creek in his backyard to help rejuvenate his spirit and senses.
For Derfla, each painting is a gamble, a leap into the unknown, a wild ride of exploration and experimentation. He paints to figure things out, not to achieve a specific result. Unexpected or unintended outcomes are welcome; they offer openings through which new possibilities can be glimpsed, imagined, and developed. Derfla works to exploit these opportunities, continually pushing himself and his paintings beyond the boundaries of habit and into the realm of chance.
“I try to give control over to a process that allows the painting to come to life organically. The painting is able to occur as an uninterrupted event subject to the whims of chance.”
“I try to apply the paint without hesitation or indecisiveness. These measures help to fend off the frustration and anxiety that may arise from any lingering tendency to control the outcome.”
“I do not try to conceal the process, but rather let it be revealed to anyone who is drawn to a closer examination of the painting. The thick texture and visible knife marks proclaim exactly how the painting was created.”
When Derfla is at work, paint flies everywhere; most of it, however, eventually finds its way onto the surface of the painting. The process is intense and exhilarating and seldom fails to capture the attention of onlookers. Over the past three years, Derfla has regularly painted live in front of spectators, allowing them to share in the fun and transforming his creative process from a private into a public activity. He has created videos of some of these events, including an appearance at last year’s Bristol Rhythm & Roots Festival, during which he painted Darrell Scott’s Guitar. Another video available on YouTube shows Derfla demonstrating his Ninja Splat technique while standing in a mountain creek, throwing paint at a canvas 8 feet away on the bank. In another scene the camera is placed behind an old glass window so that the paint flies straight toward the viewer and then splats on the window.
The conceptual foundation for Derfla’s work can be traced to a number of different sources. For example, he has drawn particular inspiration from the artist Brion Gysin,
known for his pioneering work with the “cut-up” method and for his
experiments with randomness and repetition. Music – from classic rock and folk to Afrobeat and experimental electronica – has long played a central role in Derfla’s creative process and in his understanding of form, pattern, and perception. He also draws insight and inspiration from a wide-ranging reading list that revolves around topics such as artificial intelligence, cognitive psychology, evolutionary biology, theoretical physics, and advertising.
Derfla also emphasizes the important role played by his family. From an early age, his parents encouraged and applauded his artistic efforts and have continued to do so now that he paints full time. Creekside conversations with his brother Tate have also long been a source of inspiration for his art. Derfla’s closest friend throughout his teens and twenties was his little dog named Corky. You can see her little light shining in everything that Derfla creates.
If you’re wondering about the roots of the name Derfla, these can be traced back to a high school French class. When asked to pick a French name for himself from a list of options, Kent chose Alfred. The following year, however, there was another Alfred in the class, leading Kent to flip his name backward into Derfla. This new name gradually morphed into an artistic alter-ego. It is now the name that he uses to sign all paintings, and it is the official name of his company and website (www.DerflaPaintings.com).