By Andrea Louise Thomas Photos Yanni
Mornington artist Diane Williamson’s paintings really get the imagination going as she tries to convey the intangible essence of a subject rather than just what meets the eye. For instance, while listening to music she paints the sounds of the notes, tonal changes and movements in a piece. Her interpretations create interesting compositions. Diane can paint in any style from purely representational to highly abstract, but gravitates more to the abstract.
There was never any doubt Diane was going to be an artist. Even as a toddler, before she had the words to express her desire, she reached to her mother for pencils to draw with. Both parents were creative. Her mother ran a home décor shop and her father was a musician. Diane’s affinity with music came from her father.
In the 1960s, Diane left the cosseted life of a small private school, where she was really very shy, to enter the wide world of arts at Caulfield Institute of Technology. It was an environment that expanded her thinking and opened up her world. Originally, she wanted to study ceramics, but opted for a more practical degree in graphic design.
Diane has enjoyed a wonderfully diverse career having worked as a graphic designer for advertising agencies, restoring and retouching photographs by hand, working as a professional face painter and body artist, as a leadlight artist and teacher, and also as a wedding photographer.
Of all the types of work she has done in the art field, Diane most enjoyed face painting and body art. It taught her to paint faster and gave her a living canvas. As The Face Painting Lady, she loved working with young children whose enthusiasm was infectious.
Nowadays, Diane focuses solely on painting. She has no interest in being famous; she just wants to produce work that people love and connect with. “If people like something enough to buy it and love it, that means a lot to me,” she says, adding, “Art adds beauty to life. Like a song, it can take someone back to a place or make them look at something and see it in a different way.”
Interestingly, Diane does not preplan or compose a piece.
The work comes to her as a fully formed idea. She sees the complete image in her mind and then quickly transfers it to canvas or board. She later spends many hours perfecting the technical aspects of the piece. Her favourite medium is oil as it allows for the smooth blending she likes to incorporate in her work.
Her inspiration comes from many places, such as music, her appreciation of the spiritual aspects of life and the wellspring of beauty found living on the Mornington Peninsula. “The Mornington Peninsula is like living in heaven,” she says.
Over the years Diane has had the opportunity to exhibit in many places and has won numerous prizes, but what is important to her is connecting to people. She says, “The art prize that means the most to me is the People’s Choice.”
A deep connection to spirituality and metaphysics pervades Diane’s work. Her patrons often pick up on that. People are also attracted to her work because she paints what she loves and it comes across. “I look for beauty and paint that or paint a good feeling, or the all enveloping universe of life. I want people to see the world as a beautiful place. I feel this is the place of the artist,” she says.
“Art uplifts the spirit, brings awareness of the world and helps to focus thought,” she adds.
In her work, she likes to create a dynamic image using well-planned compositions with diagonals and intersections for dynamism and circular compositions to hold the viewer’s eye. As her art has evolved, she has moved more towards the abstract than the representational in a quest to convey feelings rather than things.
Diane is part of the Peninsula Studio Trail. It has connected her to other artists and to patrons who come along to open-studio weekends or visit her studio by appointment. See what Diane has created by visiting her studio, her website or the PST website. It might just get your imagination going!