The Sydney-based painter first began creating her photoreal floral paintings at the age of 50, and has garnered the praise of everyone from Hollywood producers to iconic chefs over the past two decades – inspirational proof that it’s never too late to pursue your dreams!
A celebration of the stillness and perfection to be found in nature, Diana Watson’s latest exhibition opens at Otomys Gallery in Melbourne today. Ambrosia is an evocative showcase of 10 artworks, and fittingly takes its name from the mythological nectar of the gods. ‘Fruit, fabric and flowers have been used in still life for centuries, however with Ambrosia I have explored these everyday things with fresh eyes,’ explains Diana. ‘I hope to compare the sensuality and movement of these inanimate objects and draw the viewer’s attention to the detail, colour and rhythm of opposites that move together, with a shared beauty.’
The acclaimed painter and mother-of-three first began painting professionally at age 50, motivated by ‘empty nest syndrome’, although had always been keenly artistic. Diana has fond memories of sitting on her Father’s knee, learning to draw horses on their rural Western Australian property, surrounded by animals and picturesque landscapes. ‘This has had a profound influence on my painting; it instilled in me an appreciation of the beauty of nature – something that is very much the focus of my current body of work,’ she recalls.
Eminent WA artist, Robert Juniper, taught Diana when she boarded at Perth College, and encouraged her to study art at St James Technical College. Upon graduating, Diana had a brief career as a fashion artist, before marrying and raising her children. ‘I had always continued my artistic pursuits while the girls were young – obviously having young children is a wonderful opportunity to get creative and involve the children in the artistic process – but their leaving home gave me back that wonderful resource… time,’ she tells.
I found myself with time to think about what I wanted to paint and to commit myself to completing works, rather than just dabbling.
Now in her 70s, Diana has been part of more than 40 solo and 26 group exhibitions in Australia, Italy and the U.S. She always paints oil-on-linen, scaling up to epic proportions from sketches or photographs, in a technique she references as being ‘as old as Michelangelo and Leonardo’.
In recent years, Diana’s artwork is has caught the eye of notable collectors. Her painting was featured in the Hollywood film Collateral Beauty (furnishing the home of Kate Winslet’s character!) after the producers stumbled across her work on Pinterest. And renowned restaurateur Rick Stein not only owns a still life by Diana, but hangs it in one of his finest establishments, where her work also adorns the menus. ‘Those emails would have to be among the most exciting pieces of correspondence I have ever received!’ recalls Diana. ‘To say I was, and am, flattered by this international recognition would be a grand understatement; It’s most encouraging when Hollywood and celebrity chefs discover you from the other side of the world!’
Many of Diana’s captivating paintings can also be re-imagined as large-scale wall hangings and wallpaper. For more information visit her website, here.
Ambrosia by Diana Watson
May 4th to 27th
567-569 Victoria Street Abbotsford, Melbourne