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Artist Interview: Dianne Nowicki
As a former member of the Eye Lounge cooperative art space, part of our process in selecting artists was to meet with them at their studios, and talk and review their work. A couple of us went to visit with Dianne Nowicki for the first time, while she was a still at student at Arizona State University. We were absolutely impressed with Dianne’s work, dedication, and potential. Her work was mature for a young student, and we were very happy to pass on our approval to the coop. Three years later, I am so happy to see that her work has only gotten better. It is great to see that she is more confident with color, and that she is willing to take chances with At her current, and last Eye Lounge show, while she is a member (I’m sorry to say that closed last week) she has fun, and exerts a bit of freedom by not worrying that she had to paint over her work at the end of the exhibit. She also had wonderful works on paper and canvas.

Our interview follows.

oil on canvas
40 x 40 inches

Culture Seen: Your work seems to be very personal to you. It looks like you know the models well. Your paintings seem to capture them at a moment when they are a little off guard, or as they look directly at the viewer (and you). Is that moment something you look for? What do you want from the person you are capturing?
Dianne Nowicki:
I do know most of my models that I paint. I like painting all different kinds of people, and sometimes I’ll just ask the barista; “Can I paint a picture of you?” People usually don’t mind. But, for some reason, many people I know do not want to be painted. Maybe they feel I will paint their flaws, or expose their one big eye, but for the most part, it’s not the case. I look for timeless qualities in a face, or a visual situation.

One thing I see though, is that it is hard to keep a painting of someone if the eyes are staring directly at the viewer. It makes the work startling. I’m always scanning, so I see people moving through these timeless moments. I find the visual reality of skin so fascinating, it is translucent, soft, and moves the light. I think that the figure is a pleasant way to get into a picture, and you can move around through the image visually by looking at the neat stuff skin and fabric do when they reflect light. After looking at the paint, you can stand back and wonder what that person’s story is, and see if you can figure them out.

sleep forever
oil on canvas
36 x 48 inches
What inspires you?
Work inspires me. When I see the accomplishments of people that are awake, moving around, and changing things, I get all riled up. I live in South Chandler (Arizona) where there is construction of the largest fabrication facility for semiconductor stuff in the world right across the street. Seeing the community of people making this huge, exacting structure amazes me.

I am inspired by you, Chris! You are always up to something, curious, moving around, and making work that harpoons me in the eye if it passes by. You stopped by the Eye Lounge one Friday with a colorful, cool encaustic painting, and I had to take a picture of it, so I could stare at it some more!

That is very sweet, Dianne. Is there someone that you would dream about painting?
I’d have to say, there are some interesting people out there, but none in particular I’d like to seek out to paint. I’m usually bugging my friends, or asking strangers that I meet because I have a immediate visual relationship to them.

Are their any particular influences for your work?
There are many influences… especially painters. I’m so interested, that I absorb a lot of information from everywhere. In school I was interested in Dave Quan, Jenny Saville, Alex Ross, John Singer Sargent, Frank Miller, Shawn Barber, Colin Chillag, Francis Bacon, and others, and was fascinated with their huge art books. Right now I’m really intrigued by Dan Voinea’s work.

ink on paper
22 x 40 inches

That is an interesting variety of artists. Could you tell me a little about your current work?
My current work is a series of portraits of people around me. I have just come out of a HUGE rough stretch in my life and am finally getting to be where I can properly function again. My last show was of painted wrenches. Nothing but wrenches. I couldn’t paint anything I liked. I must have gone through 1000 pages, tearing through them with my pencil trying to think.

wrench iv
oil on canvas
15 x 9 inches

three portraits
Left to right: Bee, 12 x 8 feet
, 12 x 6 feet
12 x 8 feet
All work: spray paint and acrylic
Painted between April 16 – 19 2012

Now I’m in a place where I can talk to people and produce paintings. My current work is based on the temporary nature of things. Coming out of a hard time with being nearly homeless, I see how it is all passing. It can be hard right now… damn hard… never-ending shit… and then it is gone. That is why I painted these large figures on the wall and painted back over them. They have moved position, that timeless moment has passed. On to the next!

Have you always made art? Do you remember when or where you first found the artist in yourself?
I’ve always been a girlish doodler, drawing in books, on the walls, on my friends books and arms and backpacks. I think I found out being an artist and painter when I moved to Arizona from Turkey in 2003. My dad’s last your of duty was there after 23 years in the Air Force, so I spent time there.

I found a job at a corporate office in Scottsdale, and people there found out that I like to draw and paint stuff. Soon I was booking mural paintings for people’s homes, where they wanted this or that in whatever room. I see the production mode that I didn’t see before. There are deadlines, there is a standard, and it is work.

What’s next for you?
I’m making a painting of the desert for a show Sean Deckert has arranged to exchange with Israel, called Agripas 12. I just having painted over the gallery, I can now start to make some more pictures. I really like painting people. Their expressions, the way their clothes move, their bumbling around, inspirs me. In my last group of work I did some ink drawings, and I might like to make some more of those, but I’m always up to something.

I like the stories, and most of all, I like the people.

  1. Megan (Reply) on Wednesday 16, 2012

    Diane is like a huge overhead power line! She buzzes when you are close to her-mind you I have met her only once, spent 4 hours with her and she is an artist who is controlled by an energy that can be felt! I don’t want this to sound cheesy; she is a very rare kind of artist. Watching her work come to life without (what seems to be any effort) is amazingly spellbinding!

  2. hulagu (Reply) on Wednesday 16, 2012

    Very nice work.

  3. Julie (Reply) on Wednesday 16, 2012

    Diane is an amazing woman. Talented beyond what most of us are able to achieve. Art has always been a part of her;)

  4. Ted Decker (Reply) on Wednesday 16, 2012

    Wonderful spotlight and interview Chris! And Dianne, you are such a gifted young person and delightful as well. Congratulations on your recent exhibition at Eye Lounge and on your continuing, upward trending trajectory as a professional artist.