ABOUT THE ARTIST
My name is Darrell Chocolate, I’m a Dene artist from the Northwest Territories, Canada. I am originally from a small isolated community called Gameti from the Tlicho region, just north of Yellowknife. I reside in Yellowknife and have made it my permanent residence since 2005, but I still consider Gameti my hometown.
From as earliest as I can remember growing up in Gameti, I was always fascinated with art whether it was sketching, coloring or even a little craft activity that would spark my interest in art. I was always intrigued how the older kids in school would draw animal sketches and be creative with just a pencil and a paper. Even my older brother who is an artist himself would draw animals and landscape sketches that would captivate my young mind at the time would inspire me to draw just as he did.
I attended Chief Jimmy Bruneau Regional High School in Rae-Edzo, NT. During high school is when I really honed my skill as an artist drawing NHL players and NBA players alike from magazine photos and having a sketchbook to buildup my small portfolio. I still have these sketches and hold on to them for my own personal memorabilia. My art teacher at the time said that all the kids in school came to know me simply as “Artist” when referring to my name Darrell Chocolate and my work as an artist. During my senior year in high school in 2003 my art teacher commissioned me to do an oil painting from a photograph she took on a canoe trip she participated in. She organised an art exhibition for all the students artwork and showcased it during the end of our high school year, she specifically reserved a classroom wall with all my artwork on display and had a newspaper reporter interview me about the artwork she commissioned me on and that was my first appearance to the media.
After I graduated from CJBS high school in 2003 I had plans to attend an art college in Alberta, but with a car on my mind and no money I opted for looking for work instead. And in 2005 I got a job at Diavik Diamond Mine with a 2 week on and 2 week off schedule. I kept on sketching during that entire time but never considered to pursue it as a full time artist. In 2009 one of my coworkers heard that I could draw portraits so he asked me if he could have a painting done instead of a sketch, so I agreed to do a painting. I took on the commission to do a painting using some paint that I got as a Christmas gift and looked online on how to paint a portrait and used some of the techniques I picked up, and that was my first acrylic painting I did as a portrait. Since then I have been using acrylic paint for all my work on wildlife and portraits and started painting from then on.
Since 2009 I've been painting with acrylic paint working on wildlife and commissioned portraits. In early 2019 I won the NorthwesTel regional phone book cover art contest and my story got headlines in the north. I was featured on the APTN National News, Yellowknife Moose FM, CBC radio North and My Yellowknife Now. I was thrilled at the publicity it got and my name as an artist was soon getting out there. I am currently working full time at the Ekati Diamond Mine, and I am anticipating my work as a full time artist will be sometime in the near future doing what I love since childhood. But for now working at the diamond mine pays my wages and I have to provide for a wife and 5 children at home. I have been working at the diamond mines since 2005 and I wonder when would be the day when I take up being a full time artist. That's still in the works.
June 2003 News/North Paper
2019 NorthwesTel Phone Book Cover Art Contest
2019 February, Featured story on APTN News
2019 CBC North News
2019 My Yellowknife Now/ 100.1 Moose FM
NWT Arts Profile
NWT News/ North