FEATURE ARTIST OCTOBER 2018
Proudly embracing the beauty of classic realism in her painting and drawing, Diane is unafraid to challenge the purity of traditional art as she develops her own contemporary approach to painting and drawing. Her work has won numerous awards in regional and national shows and has been published in national art magazines. A teacher, workshop instructor and show judge, Diane enjoys working with the local art community.
PSST: Everyone loves a great studio or plein air setup. What is your painting setup while using pastels?
Diane Brahm: I am a studio painter, but it seems I paint just about everywhere BUT my studio! I do have a room in my home that I call my studio, but I tend to use it more as a supply room. Since I work in several different mediums, my art supplies take up a lot of space.
My favorite place to draw and paint is in my breakfast room. There is plenty of natural light and I keep the overhead lighting fixture with both a “daylight” bulb and a “cooler” bulb. I also like to paint on my back porch (which is covered) weather permitting!
So when I am working on a piece, all my supplies come with me to my makeshift breakfast room studio. I have a large easel, and a full size dining table to lay out my pastels. I always begin my pastel work with Nupastels, and I use them for the majority of my work. I keep them color-sorted on stackable trays, so I can separate them and surround myself with the trays. The softest pastels I use for final flourishes are Sennelier. Someone gave me a huge set years ago, and I haven’t had to replace any yet!
I prefer to work on sanded paper, and I use whatever I can find, and that includes making my own with Golden fine sanded medium.
PSST: Your award-winning portraiture and landscapes are well known from Houston art events. How do you describe your painting style and color choices?
Diane Brahm: I guess my painting style is eclectic, as I am always trying to find a new way to apply the pastel to the paper. I tend to get bored with the norm, so I am not afraid to experiment. Those who know me, know I am not afraid of fixative (or even hairspray!) as I search for a way to make an idea or gesture work on a specific application. Though I must admit, that I am fairly conservative on portrait commissions and always aim to please the client!
I oil paint and pastel paint with very similar color choices. I have experimented with painting the same subject in each medium at the same time, but different locations. I wanted to see how they would differ in appearance. It probably isn’t hard to guess the outcome…the pastel was by far the more vibrant, exciting, and colorful! They looked very much alike from across the room, but stepping closer the pastel really stole the show!
PSST: In your experience as an art judge, what is the most important aspect of judging adult artwork? How should artists prepare for juried and judged exhibitions?
Diane Brahm: Judging art shows is a hard work, but I love the challenge!
On entering a show, an artist should choose the piece or pieces that they are confident will stand out from others. I have seen show winners range from small gems to giant panoramas. The artwork should always be presented in a professional way and be void of competing mats or distracting frames.
Framing IS important. All artists who enter shows need to know that the winners are paintings that look great, but remember every judge has their own tastes and ideals. What earns an honorable mention from one judge, might very well be best of show at another venue. I’ve been there!
PSST: Do you have a favorite workshop instructor or book that you would like to recommend and why?
Diane Brahm: It’s hard for me to name my favorite pastel workshop instructor, because I have only had one, and she was great! Caroline Ratliff! We are so fortunate to have her as our demo artist in October!
PSST: Please, tell us what events or classes you have coming up.
Diane Brahm: As we go forth into Hispanic Heritage Month, I will be teaching my fifth and sixth grade art students about the life of Frida Kahlo and how it affected her artwork. After a brief lesson in facial proportions, each student will attempt their own portrait of Frida!
I will be attending the Texas Art Educators Association Conference in McAllen in early November. I continue to teach private lessons in drawing, pastel, and oils.