Bits of Window Screen are Really Just Old-Fashioned Pixels

“I always thought I’d like sculpting or pottery because I like three-
dimensional art, but after years of watercolor, I was determined to find something more dimensional in painting,” says Diane Dean. The graphic designer turned multimedia artist now favors acrylics. 

Former career graphic designer Diane Dean picked up a brush
 and went low tech. 
Portrait by Rachel Pressley

Dean worked out of Atlanta for 15 years throughout the ’80s and ’90s as a sales and marketing representative for Adobe. “I’m not a vector person — I think pixels,” she says. Once Adobe became big enough to manage licenses for other companies in 2000, Dean didn’t find the work as exciting. “They wanted me to handle ad agencies and move to New York City, so that’s when I told them it was time for me to exit.” She and her husband moved to Hilton Head Island, where they would stay for the next seven years as Dean managed the local art league. She hosted abstract and textured-painting workshops demonstrating how to use Photoshop as a tool to tune a photograph — filtering images to achieve a concept by adding unique colors and elements.

She still utilizes her graphic-design skills to wedge herself into the art world. “I’m always taking pictures on either my SLR [camera] or my phone,” says Dean. “I look at the pictures in Photoshop and filter them to make them appear more abstract. Doing this gives me an idea of how to approach the concept with my technique. I’ll tape photos and paint chips around my easel as I plan what to paint.”

Seaside Poppies
Dean in her studio.
Photo by Rachel Pressley

But for texture, Dean goes low tech, using any item that reminds her of the concept she’s painting — including “wire mesh, window screen, Critter Guard, metal grates used over floor and ceiling registers, ribbons with holes cut out, stencils, and anything that I think will make an interesting pattern.” She begins each piece with a coat of heavy gesso. She then presses in wire mesh or another textured item, runs a palette knife over it and removes the item, leaving a new pattern on her canvas.

The palette knife is used throughout her process to create fluid effects, swipes, to line ridges, and to generate fan shapes. “There’s a whole lot going on when you can be close enough to see it,” says Dean.

Just Waiting 

Her shared studio space in Hendersonville allows for her to hear visitors’ reactions to her work — regarding both completed pieces and works in progress. One of the reasons why Dean pushed herself to do around 14 shows in 4 months on the Southeastern art-festival circuit was so she could interact with viewers. “I always have pieces that are in various stages, which is intentional. It helps people connect more to the finished pieces when they understand the [multi-step] process.” 

Work in progress

She recently took a break from her travels, though, and will now spend the majority of her time in Western NC, making art and making videos, using her production skills to teach workshops via YouTube.
“I keep experimenting and trying new things — now I have more time to do that.”

Noni’s Sunday Poppies

Diane Dean, Hendersonville. The artist’s studio is located inside Art MoB Studios and Marketplace (124 4th Ave. East, downtown Hendersonville, artmobstudios.com). She will participate in the HotWorks Asheville Fine Art Show at Pack Square Park on Saturday, Oct. 26 and Sunday, Oct. 27. Her exhibit “Envision” runs at the Asheville Regional Airport Art Gallery in Fletcher through Sunday, Jan. 5 (flyavl.com). Dean’s studio is open during Art MoB hours. To check her schedule or make an appointment, call 843-247-1368. For more information, see dianedean.com.

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