Utah-based artist, Diane Whitehead, gives new meaning to the expression “prolific painter”. Whitehead states “Animals are my muse”, however her adventuresome paintings explore diverse themes, ranging from boldly painted and vivid colored floral and landscapes to heartfelt interpretations of wildlife and the human figure. Her depictions of animals within their natural environments are poignant and perhaps socially relevant based on increasing threats to wildlife due to natural disasters such as forest fires and drought. The overall sense of empathy expressed in her work is also quite refreshing based on how frequently Mother Nature is exploited. In a 24 by 24 inch piece entitled Running Whitetail Diane portrays two deer dynamically leaping into and across the picture-plane before a row of dark forest trees. The deer are completely enveloped by the landscape through the same visceral and fluid paint handling that visually unifies the forms. Running Whitetail is handled in a manner that is conceptually quite similar to the Hermit that was painted by American artist, John Singer Sargent in 1908. Sargent’s piece, included in the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, depicts two deer and a hermit totally immersed within a rocky forest. Both wildlife and the natural are represented ambiguously as one.
The lush, saturated colors that Diane uses lend themselves to a dramatic sense of light—both directional and resonate. Within her poetic landscape called String Lake Landscape, the bright sun is depicted streaming through a row of trees forming rhythmic cast shadows within the irregular forest terrain, while illuminating the tall yellow-green grass along the water. The warm juxtaposed against the cool spots entice the viewer through color vibration. Then there are other pieces such as her still life of cantaloupe called Fancy Fruit that possess more of a resonate light quality whereby the light emanates from all areas as if there exists an internal glow within all forms. Common to all of her work is this uncanny sense of light that interweaves and expresses metaphorically the profound resilience of nature. This is the content of Diane’s work.
Diane Whitehead is indeed a prolific painter to investigate during your travels out west. You won’t be disappointed!
By Hall Groat II
RUNNING WHITETAIL by Diane Whitehead, Oil on Canvas, 24 x 24 x 1 in.
The Hermit (Il solitario) by John Singer Sargent (American, Florence 1856–1925 London)