1) What is this show about (does it have a title#? Which sorts of pieces will be on display?
The Title of the show is the title of the first piece I attached: "Cafe Noir". Most of the pieces will be up close images from cafe interiors. They will be acrylic on masonite panel with a tighter than usual focus.
2) What was your inspiration for this show?
I was sitting in a cafe waiting for my meal, when I noticed the salt and pepper shakers and their comical similarity to 40's detectives with the hat and trench coat. I had a good laugh and then looked around at the amazing number of images available to me from that one location. The lights, colors and shapes bouncing around in that space were amazing, and even though I'd been to the cafe many times, I had not noticed the distinct peculiarities until just then. I went home and experimented with the image ideas, and found more images on return visits.
3) How do you personally come through as an artist in your pieces?
I am always on the lookout for the interesting and unusual moments locked inside of ordinary experience, as well as the extraordinary moments that punctuate my life. The ray of light or the reflection of color, or the movement of an arm, the swirl of fabric...elements that seem so ordinary on the surface, bless me with such amazing joy as I focus my attention on them. It is like unwrapping a gift. At first I am sitting alone waiting for my iced tea, wrapped up in my thoughts, and then I see the reflection of the sky in the tines of the fork, and the gift unfolds. I hope the viewers of these pieces experience the same unfolding...the same joy.
4) What other passions besides painting make up your life? #Like travel and teaching)
I love travelling, and do it as often as is realistic. Spending time with my adult daughters is my absolute favorite and most rare experience, but I also love teaching, cooking, playing with kids and listening to live music. My vegetable garden is also a constant source of joy. As I get older, I am finding that my and love of life can come from moving through each day with deepening awareness, rather than by adding frantic or fast paced activities. But, of course, painting has been the greatest love of my life and takes most of my waking attention.
5) Do you notice any new trends in the art business or more specifically art in Seattle?
The new realities that have come along with the economic downturn have created enormous challenges for artists. It is so tempting to figure out what will sell. I found myself trying to guess what would make people happy (that was a mistake) I need to keep on with my own journey and hope that it inspires others. If I pay too much close attention to trends I find myself copying instead of creating. But I have seen an upsurge in brilliant young artists in Seattle, and I am thrilled that they are raising the bar.
6) You have a wide variety of inspiration as evidenced by your range of collections—everything from lively dancers to peaceful countryside scenes to graphic bird images to impressionistic glimpses of everyday objects. So instead of your inspiration for each individual “topic,” I would love to know why you chose to sit down and paint at all; I read on your website that you strive to portray a sense of vitality and joy in your work. Is it fair to say that this is the idea that unites an oeuvre which is so diverse and unique?
Finding joy seems to be at the core of my life's work. Sometimes that is not easy. Being alive on this planet presents many opportunities to lose joy, to lose hope, to lose your way. Painting the immediate, astonishing moment when joy occurs helps to recognize it and catch it. I often think that original paintings are like batteries...they store the passion and inspiration of the moment and give back hits of it whenever an observer pays a bit of attention. I have paintings by other artists in my home, and every time I walk by them, I receive a momentary jolt from them. The artist gave me a piece of his life experience.
I must say that deep emotion inspires my work. I just finished a work about observing the death of my father...that was not a joy-giving experience, but it created a deepening... the colors of my memory around my father are more vibrant because of it. I don't intend to share that piece with the public, but it is part of the whole life that i wish to express as an artist. And I have found a quiet joy on the other side of his death...a gratitude that we were allowed to share each others lives for this short time on earth. Life giving joy is the essence of what fires my imagination and fuels my work. I am on constant alert for the imagery around those moments.
7) My favorite collections of yours are the “Dance,” “Unhinged,” and “Figurative” works, especially of the little league baseball team. The subjects, moods and styles of the collections are so different yet they’re equally dynamic, emotive, and captivating. Do you find that painting a wide variety of subjects helps your paintings reach an equally wide variety of people, or do you even think about that—do you just paint in line with your inspiration and passion?
As an artist, I love to communicate my passion with others. The diversity of my paintings is a reflection of my own inward curiosity about the life going on all around me. I hope this speaks to people, but it was not necessarily planned. Each series of paintings was created on an idea or inspiration. Often that idea is too large to be encompassed by a single painting. I paint that idea until it runs its course, then the series is over. If I paint any more in that series once the idea is expressed, I feel a staleness come over the work. It always feels like a mini death when the series has run its course...I want the energy from it to go on and on. Someone once described me as a curious puppy always sniffing around for what's new. I was a little offended by the description because at the time I wanted to be taken very seriously, and the puppy image did not really do it. But I see their point. Many artist stay with one subject their whole lives which I deeply respect, but absolutely cannot emulate. It may not be the best thing for my career, but I have to stay with what is fresh and joyful for me in the moment, and move on once it is done. I will often find a second wind, and revisit a series, and it is a delight to find more inspiration.
8) What do you want people to know about your pieces or you as an artist?
Each painting is a signpost, a fragment of a larger journey. If I could hope for anything it would be that I would hit a common chord of experience and that viewers of my work would be reminded to look for their own sign posts...that life is so much more than the sum of our activities, but that is made richer by our attention to the moment. Each moment is a doorway to a deeper experience. There is always more to see, always more to feel.
AN EMAIL INTERVIEW WITH DIANNA SHYNE
By Teague Thomas