Statement of Purpose

The purpose of this blog is to promote an awareness and understanding of painting and the artist's spirit. It simply reflects the artist's personal experience and is not affiliated nor does it represent any individual organization or entity. All work and text within is owned by the artist and is protected by copyright. Please ask permission to use images and text.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A Recent trip to the Museum - The Sorolla Experience, Part I

There is always so much enjoyment visiting a museum and gazing into the works of masters.  How often I have looked into the paintings, peering in trying to decipher the colors, application of pigments, techniques and approaches that the artist employed.  And each time I am filled with great inspiration and long to understand much more about the paintings.  Recently I was afforded an opportunity to do more than just glimpse at genius, instead I had the chance to immerse myself into a masterwork by Sorolla.

I had always wanted to paint at a museum and copy a master work, but something seemed to just get in the way. Perhaps it was just timing issues or conflicts of one sort or another.  Poor excuses really. Thanks to a friend,  my procrastination was replaced with action. She was very kind to bring me to the museum and she showed me just how simple it was to step through the door into another realm. An epiphany occurred the moment I walked into a large room and was greeted by a pantheon of masterpieces.  A whole new world opened up to me.  I felt like a kid again, gazing upwards at the magnificent murals upon the walls, awestruck completely unaware of anything but the splendor of color and light.  How huge the murals were.  I felt small in their presence.  Drawn to the paintings, I looked the work over very closely paying attention to certain details.  The paintings revealed quite some interesting things.

Some areas were painted thinly or the tone of the canvas showed through.  Quick brushstrokes, drips and dribbles of paint appeared often.

I do not profess to be an expert in the analysis of paintings however when I viewed some of Sorolla's work, it did appear at least to me, that he repainted some passages.  It got me thinking about how reworking or repainting a passage within a picture has its benefits.

And then of course, the colors, wow the colors of Sorolla's murals. Simply divine.  The life that emanated from the color, wonderful, vigorous and exciting.

After having several turns, pacing about looking at the murals, I was fired up and ready to work from one of Sorolla's paintings.  After the Bath looked decidedly like a good lesson in painting white.  And indeed it proved to be an invaluable lesson.  It is still in fact a lesson that is continuing to evolve.  As I continue to return to the museum to work on the copy I learn more about Sorolla, more about painting white and more about myself.  This I will relay in a later post.  But this I can state concretely, the value of working from a masterpiece cannot ever be underestimated. It should be practiced when possible and encouraged to those who thirst for knowledge and who wish to surround themselves with greatness.  I cannot say enough as to how grateful I am to Julie for bringing me to such a treasure trove of beauty and genius.  Because of my experience my spirit soars and I am filled with inspiration and I feel invigorated.  I look forward to returning to the museum and continuing my painting journey.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Portrait Oil Painting Workshop

Sample of the artist's work
Portrait Oil Painting Workshop - November 7, 2010 at the Ridgewood Art Institute, Ridgewood, NJ from 10AM - 4PM in the West Studio.

Working from a live model under north light students will be taught to simplify and compose a portrait painting through the usage of form, composition, color, perspective, planes and light. How to use a prismatic palette will be discussed. Study of massing, values, relationships, edges, progression, atmosphere, mood and prismatic light effects will be strongly emphasized. Beginning and advanced students will benefit from individualized attention. This one-day workshop is appropriate for painters of all levels. Those new to oil painting are especially welcome. A brief portrait painting demonstration will be offered at the beginning of the workshop.  For more information please visit

Friday, April 2, 2010

Landscape Plein Air Workshop - Oil Painting with the DuMond Palette

Landscape Plein Air Workshop
Oil Painting with the DuMond Palette

Instructor - Diana K. Gibson

Saturday, May 1, 2010
(alternate rain date: May 15, 2010)

8AM to 12PM

Location: The Skylands NJ Botanical Gardens, Ringwood, NJ.

Workshop Description:
This workshop is ideal for those familiar with the DuMond landscape palette and for those who wish to be introduced to a prismatic landscape palette. Students will paint on location in the plein air tradition at the scenic beautiful gardens of the Skylands NJBG. Study of the progression of light, creating depth, massing, values, planes, atmospheric and prismatic light effects will be strongly emphasized. A brief demonstration will be offered. A one on one concise lecture of the philosophies behind the DuMond landscape palette will be available to those interested. Beginning and advanced students will benefit from individualized attention. This half-day workshop is appropriate for painters of all levels of skill. Those new to oil painting are especially welcome. For more information please visit

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Oil Painting Workshop - Painting Brass & Copper

Diana K. Gibson- Oil Painting Workshop

Painting Brass and Copper

Sunday, March 14, 2010 10AM to 4PM
Snow date, March 21, 2010

Ridgewood Art Institute
12 East Glen Ave.
Ridgewood, NJ 07450

The workshop will take place in the north lit west studio of the RAI. The class will start with a brief discussion about how to approach the north lit subjects. How to use a prismatic palette will be discussed in detail. Students will have their choice of several different brass and copper still life setups to paint from. Study of massing, values, edges, atmosphere, mood and prismatic light effects will be strongly emphasized. A brief demonstration will be offered. Bring your lunch. Kitchen facilities are located on site.

More details:
Learn how to make metal luminous! Working from life, students will be taught to simplify and compose a still life painting through the usage of form, composition, color, perspective, planes, and light. How to use a prismatic palette will be discussed in detail. Study of massing, values, relationships, edges, progression, atmosphere, mood and prismatic light effects will be strongly emphasized. Students will have their choice of several different north-lit brass and copper still life setups to paint from. Beginning and advanced students will benefit from individualized attention. This one day workshop is appropriate for painters of all levels of skill. Those new to oil painting are especially welcome. A supply list is available.

For more information visit the artist's website:

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Recent Projects

This is a photo of my latest endeavor, a still life. It took quite a bit of time to arrange the objects but it took much longer to set up the lighting.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Artist's Model

Just recently I had the pleasure to sit for a portrait painting class. Sitting for the class reminded me of my beginnings in the art field. Before I began painting I was a portrait model. The transition from portrait model to art student to artist seemed only natural. This transition ultimately changed my life and enriched it beyond measure. Here are some pictures taken after the portrait painting class. The garb that I am wearing is a dress that was picked up by a relative who was on a business trip in Sinai, Egypt. I was told that the dress was made by one woman who constructed the dress and embroidered it by hand. The estimated time frame to complete such a dress was approximately two weeks. The dress is rare and is over 20 years old. The jewelry pieces are antiques from the Sinai and India.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Quick Tips to Push Depth in a Painting

Some quick tips that I offer to my students in regard to creating further distance in their landscape paintings are as follows:


*Look for the ellipses in the landscape and translate them upon the canvas. The ellipses help to create movement and draws the viewers' eye through the picture.

*Be aware of scale and perspective. Contrast and compare the shape and scale of the objects. Things get smaller as they recede into the distance. Think about how much of the sky will appear in the picture. By merely raising or lowering the horizon line, one can shift the perspective creating more or less depth within the painting.

*Be cognizant of any kind of repetition that maybe occurring within the painting. We may sometimes be unaware of the consistent repetitive shapes or equally spaced out items we are creating. Shapes and spacing are quite varied in nature and are not as systematic as we sometimes unconsciously portray them. Constantly observe, compare your work to the landscape and be honest about what you see in your work by comparison to the landscape.

*Determine where the point of focus will be. Consider positioning the highest light a third in and a third up on the canvas.


*Reserve the foreground for the darkest accent. By having a dark in the immediate foreground it will help to push the distance in the picture. A dark accent in the middle or far picture plane will instantly collapse the illusion of depth.

*Sunlight values remain consistent through out the picture however as sunlight objects recede into the distance they lose their local color.

*Shadow values vary. Shadows in the immediate foreground are darker and generally have more local color. As shadows recede into the distance they get lighter and bluer (blue-gray or blue violet.)

*Be mindful of the illuminating source, the sky. The sky may exhibit variations in color and is not always one solid color of blue. Skies are prone to having atmosphere therefore should be examined for subtle differences of the spectrum. The sky nearest to the sun will be brightest and perhaps lightest. The atmospheric sky furthest away in the distance may have subtle variations and may appear less blue. Look to see if you can see the spectrum and indicate as such. Always examine that sky!

*Pushing the distance in the sky is also about the clouds. Sunlight clouds in the furthest picture plane may appear to have a touch of red in their "white tops" and their shadow bottoms may appear at times to blend into the background sky.

*Emphasis of texture generally is placed upon the objects in the foreground while texture generally becomes more subtle and less noticeable in objects in the distance.

*Treatment of edges and line. The more solid the edges and lines appear, the more the objects appear closer. The softer edges and lines appear, the more the objects appear to recede.

*Lastly, never give up. Be indefatigable. Landscape painting is humbling and unquestionably it presents its challenges. It is not always easy to paint and perhaps it is not meant to be easy. It is the struggle that makes us better painters. In time with much practice and direct observation from nature, one shall improve and ultimately triumph.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A Sunrise Painting Tale

Above are pictures depicting mixing colors. These colors were pre-mixed with the intent to paint a sunrise. The palette was prepared the night before and a dark toned panel was selected. My gear was readied and awaited the morning. The start to my day went a little differently than planned. At 4:30 AM the house woke to two cats hissing and growling outside in the yard below. Being up earlier than planned afforded time to watch the very early dawn of the day. The sky was still dark but there were tell tale signs that the sun was soon to rise. Quick preparations and a short walk down the road, my gear was set up and I stood waiting for the magical moment for when the sun would break over the horizon. Knowing speed is critical for painting a sunrise, the land masses were massed in and I anticipated the sky to burst into color. I glanced over my shoulder to track the progress of the sun in the sky when I noticed a cloud bank moving up towards the sun. In the distance a large bank of fog was visible. The first light of the day started to illuminate the sky overhead and a very very faint glow of rosy pink touched upon the wispy clouds in the distance. Then it happened. The fog moved inland and shrouded the sun. The plan to paint a sunrise was disappearing in the fog! I frantically painted in the water and the sky before everything was lost behind a veil of moisture. In a matter of minutes the fog enveloped the bay and obscured everything from view. The painting session was probably about 20 minutes or so and I was thankful that I had taken the time to prepare my palette etc. The preparation helped me to paint quickly. To be candid I was a bit disappointed to not have painted a glowing sunrise but on the other hand I was happy to have experienced such a unique moment something that I may have not seen otherwise. It is moments like these that stay with you and make for an interesting tale. An image of the painting from that morning is below.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Recent Landscape en plein aire

Getting outside to paint en plein aire this summer has really been a challenge since the majority of this summer has been subject to much heavy rainfall. This piece was actually started on a misty rainy day and was worked on over a period of a few days. In the past my plein aire work was completed in one session however lately I have taken a different approach and have started to work on the same piece over a span of a few days. That means I start a picture and then return to the same site at the same time of day under the same lighting conditions until I consider the painting finished. This new approach has been beneficial for me because I have learned considerably more through intensive direct observation. I have also taken a new approach in modifying my palette in hopes to create more saturated naturalistic vibrant colors.

Recent Work in Progress

This still life is currently in progress and it is my first endeavor to truly break away and do something quite different from my past work. Instead of pounding away at a piece and trying to finish it alla prima, I have slowed down considerably on this one and have taken much more time to analyze the subject and painting. The finished painting turned out pretty well if I may say so myself. :)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Essential don't forget items for Plein Air Artists

Ever become a tasty snack for a swarm of hungry biting insects and wish you had some bug spray? Ouch! How about having a sopping brush and realizing you forgot your roll of towels or rags or better yet you set up your pochade box and go for your paints only to realize you left them next to your easel at home? Maybe some of you are nodding your head and chuckling and know too well what I am relating. Sometimes forgetting supplies can be just down right frustrating though the forgetfulness does make for some good jokes and story telling. But the lack of efficiency can take away from constructive painting time, which is no joke. Through years of plein air painting experience I have learned to carry some extra supplies on hand because I have had those days where I in my haste I forgot something at the house or left it along the side of the driveway. So to prepare for those inevitable opps duh moments, I keep the following plein air staples in the trunk of my car:

Bug repellant (seasonal)
Hat (Wide brimmed-Summer & knit-Winter)
Gloves (seasonal)
Bag of cut up rags
Extra canvas panels
Small box of spare paints/palette
Spare brushes

These supplies have come in hand quite a few times and I can definitely say they have saved me time, energy and sanity. :) If you have some interesting fun tales to tell about your oops duh moments, I would love to hear them! Happy painting!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Recent Work

Here are some images of some work that I have on my easels. The majority are finished with the exception of the painting of the garden statue. I hope to finish it soon, perhaps when it stops raining and steady sunshine prevails!!!

Follow up.....JCAS Cranford Artist Studio Tour

Well it has been a little while since I participated in the Cranford Artist Studio Tour and it would be remiss of me not to chat about my experience! I must say I had an awesome time! Many cheerful and supportive patrons of the arts poured out onto the streets to check out what Cranford had to offer. The drizzly rain did not hinder the fans of the fine arts nor we visiting plein air painters! Myself and Eleinne Basa were the plein air painters demonstrating plein air painting techniques, explaining about the easels we used, the colors on our palettes, and explaining exactly what is plein air painting, etc. I was absolutely delighted to meet the public and to meet fellow artists. I was extremely touched by the support of my students who showed up and remained with me for the entirety of the event. There was an energy that was positive and supportive and the buzz that was created from this event left me feeling very happy. I would like to recognize Deborah Leber and Paul Casale for inviting me to participate in the Cranford Artist Studio Tour. They did a fabulous professional job and I thank them so much for offering this opportunity to me! I would also like to recognize the super team of volunteers who were so helpful and polite to us visiting plein air artists. They set up a wonderful sheltered area for Eleinne and myself to display our work and to retreat to from the rain. Many many thanks! I wish them the best of success in launching their vision of locating a building in downtown Cranford to house artist working studios. Their hope is to have such a place for artists to work, sell, teach and interact with each other. This is for many artists a dream and I hope they succeed! Cheers JCAS!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

More updates soon!

Hi out there to you all in blogger world! It has been quite a long time since I have updated my blog and I promise to get some new images uploaded as soon as possible! This Spring has proved to be a rainy one and the Summer looks to be a continuation of the Spring, wet and rainy. The rain has been an hinderance to plein air painting, however I have managed to get out there and do some work. So please check back soon to view my latest work and read some of my painting tales! Cheers!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Paint in the Date - Cranford, NJ!

This Spring offers exciting events which I am happy to share with you! This year I was invited to participate in the Cranford's Artist Open Studio Tour 2009! Artists' home studios together with local businesses hosting visiting artists will provide the venues for exhibitions of painting, photography, stain glass and more! Between the hours of 12 and 5 PM some of Cranford NJ's very best fine artists as well as visiting artists will welcome you into their studios and work locations. Whether it is a Cranford artist or a visiting artist, they will guide you through their creative process. See works in progress, finished pieces and demonstrations during this self guided tour. Artwork will be available for purchase. Please come join me at the Cranford Artists' Open Studio tour scheduled for Sunday, May 17 12 to 5 PM! Advance ticket purchases are available. For further information please visit Cranford Artists' Open Studio Tour.

Monday, April 6, 2009

"Bold as Brass"

This painting is done, finally!  :)  "Bold as Brass" 16 x 12. It needs a good frame and soon will be ready to take to the gallery.  Another all brass painting will be executed shortly, so stay tuned for new images!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Works in Progress

These are a few pieces that are in different stages of completion.  The top plein air piece needs another afternoon out in the field.  The weather lately has been overcast and rainy.  I am hopeful that the weather will break this weekend and I am crossing my fingers that similar if not identical lighting conditions will return!  

Monday, March 16, 2009

Drawing-Returning to the Basics

Recently I rediscovered drawing and it has been a delight to return to the basics! As of late plaster life casts have been the focus of study and they are wonderful to learn from.  If anything that I have learned from my drawing foray and I say foray cheekily, is that one must really understand not only how to create linear elements but also know how to model and shape through a multitude of black and white values.  I now have a broader understanding and a greater appreciation of just how difficult drawing can be and in some cases some drawings can require as much time to execute as a painting!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

American Artist Showcase Your State NJ Winners

The results are in and I am happy to announce that I am one of five finalists for the American Artist Showcase Your State: New Jersey plein air competition!  To view the American Artist on-line article just click on this link -> "Showcase Your State: New Jersey Winners."  Thanks to all of you for your support and vote of confidence!  :) Congrats to the other finalists!  You rock!

FINALIST #5: DIANA K. GIBSON (from Ringwood, New Jersey)
Springtime in the NJ Highlands
by Diana K. Gibson, 2006, oil, 18 x 14

In the Words of the Artist: "The New Jersey Botanical Garden (NJBG), in Ringwood, New Jersey, is one of my favorite places to paint in the spring.  Each spring a week prior to the bloom, I drive through the NJBG observing the buds on the cherry blossom trees.  Often, the buds show no signs of blooming.  Then, as if by magic, the buds burst into flower overnight and within a week drop their petals.  I was walking about the gardens looking for a subject to paint when I spied the blossom tree.  The backlighting was simply captivating and was a perfect study of light.  For this painting I used a medium-gray-toned panel.  I began by massing in the shadows strategically, allowing for some of the tone of the panel to show through.  Next the sky was blocked in, and then the light areas were massed. I then applied the tree trunks and added the silvery highlights on the shrubs and grass. After adding the darkest shadow accent and finishing the highlights on the cherry blossom tree the painting's atmospheric light effect was solidified."

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Stretching Canvas

Stretching your own canvas has its benefits. You are able to create unusual sizes that you would not find elsewhere as most pre-stretched canvases are standard sizes. You also have the luxury of stripping your canvas from the stretchers and recycling the stretcher bars for another painting. Stretching canvas takes a little time, some patience a wee bit of hand strength.  To stretch your own canvas you will need some supplies such as a roll of canvas, stretcher bars, canvas pliers, staple gun, staples, sharp pair of scissors and a small awl.  Start by putting together your wooden stretcher bars being sure that they are aligned perfectly.  A T-square can be used to check this. Once the stretcher bars are assembled, lay out your roll of canvas on a flat clean surface.  It is rather important that you do not crease or wrinkle the canvas.  With a sharp pair of scissors cut around the stretcher bars giving yourself at least two inch border from the bars to the edge of the canvas.                                                                              

Lay your canvas primed side down and place your stretchers on the back of the canvas. Take one side of the canvas with your canvas pliers, pull and staple the canvas to the stretcher bar.  Rotate and do the same to the opposite side. Then systematically pull and staple the canvas to the stretchers.  Be sure to keep the canvas taut as you staple. Before long you will have a nicely taut stretched canvas.                                                                                     

If for any reason you see some buckling in the canvas you can take your small awl and extract some of the staples and re-stretch and staple again.  Finishing the corners is a nice touch.  It helps to keep the corners nice and neat and prevents any excess canvas from bunching up under a frame.


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Tubing Your Own Colors

When I first started painting my teacher introduced me to tubing colors.  Being a new student I did not quite understand the benefits of tubing my own colors and thought the mixing and tubing process to be fun while being labor intensive.  Later on when I put those tubed colors to use did I realized just how beneficial it was to have an abundant supply of color on hand readily available.  There was no longer the need to be constantly mixing up color hither and thither. All I had to do was reach into my paint box, open a tube of color, squeeze out some paint onto my palette and start painting.  Now I am introducing the concept of tubing colors to my students.  It is a great kick to watch them take out their supply of empty paint tubes, pigments, palette knives and see the amazement on their faces as the pigments get swirled together into large toffee colored mounds of paint that morph into flesh tones that rival makeup foundation products.

When I proposed the idea of mixing and tubing flesh tones to my student Kay, she jumped right at the opportunity.  The series of photographs show her mixing and tubing and occasionally yours truly is shown giving a hand with the work.