Diana Stelin is an award-winning landscape artist, educator, author, and designer whose works have brought her critical acclaim in the eyes of individuals around the world. Diana is also an individual who is keen on sharing her vast knowledge of the arts with people looking to improve. Stelin authored an acclaimed novel, titled “Searching for a Place to Call Home”, where she discussed the effects of art on our psyche. She has been a guest speaker on numerous podcasts and has contributed to publications like Huffington Post, Hyperallergic, and Mother Nature Network, among others.
In this exclusive interview, we take a look at Diana Stelin’s journey and some tips both young and veteran artists can use to improve their skills.
Hi Diana, what’s your story?
My purpose is to be an inspiration for people to play, to connect with their experiences and the beautiful world around them. I do this through creating exquisite artwork, art experiences, books, and fashion
Can you tell us how you got started as an artist?
It started with immigration from the former Soviet Union and the need to battle bullying. Art saved me during a tough teenage transition to a new land and continued to provide solace and offer direction at every challenging turn. Every painting session resulted in an ‘aha’ moment about my overall life and became so addictive that painting every day seemed the only solution.
There are lots of artists out there, what makes you unique?
I’m an artist who’s so passionate about the effects of art on our psyche, that I teach and speak quite a bit on the impact of art in our world. My latest and most grandiose project, after being accepted into a Venice Biennale satellite, is creating meditative art rooms for the re-introduction of employees post-Covid to the corporate environment.
Different artists employ different art styles, can you tell me more about yours?
I use a unique technique of encaustic adapted from the Ancient Romans but with a personal twist. I employ high-grade oil pigments mixed with cold wax in my work. I melt the wax as I progress with each piece, at the same time adding in gold leaf and paper elements that are then partially painted over. The effect is a tapestry of brilliant color, texture, and contrasting lines. I then employ my paintings as the basis for fabric prints in my proprietary fashion line.
On your journey to becoming an artist what obstacles did you face?
The stigma of the starving artist is a huge one and it showed up for me when managing a chain of art galleries, where artists unless they were made, like Jeff Koons or Murakami, were looked down upon and treated as paupers in constant search for food and acceptance. That did a number on me for quite a few years. I was unable to paint or promote my work because of this learned conditioning in the art world.
How did you overcome these obstacles?
I’m still prone to this doublethink, especially when going to art fairs like Art Basel Miami or Freeze and seeing the big names who made it. What helps is taking steps little by little and having people buy my work, showing its appreciation. Everyday there are more people seeing what I produce through corporate and gallery exhibits, through my social media channels, and the press coverage I get through writing and speaking, and it shows me how much I’ve grown and continue to develop and value my impact on the world.
Looking at your growth, what key factors played an important role in getting you to the level you’re currently on?
The courage to ask people to buy my art is the largest factor. So many artists assume that they’ll be found and it’s a tough lesson to learn that only 5% of it all is in our ideas, and 95% – in their execution. I don’t want to be the best kept secret or die in obscurity and it takes a lot of guts, perseverance, and belief in myself to progress. Lots of inner work for sure.
Do you have a favorite piece of work?
My latest project for which I’m creating a series of paintings focused on seasons is certainly my favorite. That, and the Venice Biennale series I’m working on!
Can you tell us more about it, and why it’s your favorite
The pieces are so large that one enters them and feels like they’re one with the painting. You can almost feel the wind swishing through your hair, the fragrance of cherry blossom smells, and hear the sounds of birds in the sky.
What projects are you working on at the moment?
I’m fully immersed in my meditative art room project for corporations, for which I just finished up a prototype room. It involves two large paintings, a cheese cart of introductory art supplies, and a library of pre-recorded guided classes. Employees who might have from 10 minutes to up to an hour break while in the office can enter and choose from an array of courses ranging from guided meditation to oil pastels, to watercolor and clay.
You have a gallery show coming up, can you tell me more about it?
I’m doing a Seascapes show at AZ Fine Art, where I’ll be performing the finishing touches on my latest nautical piece, adding in gold leaf and paper, and covering them with wax and oil pigments. The performance piece is happening on Sunday, June 13th, from 2-4 pm. I would love for anyone to join in and see my process.
You can reach out to Diana Stelin on Facebook