Painting Kindness: Interview With Diana Dzene

My passion for painting started long ago with painting over the basement walls of parents’ house in an attempt to copy old masters. I studied books and painters to soak up as much information and skills as I could and learned the art of oil painting on canvas (as basement walls are not something easily available wherever one goes). 

After a coincidental meeting with Russia-educated Valery Baida and his wife Maija Jakovich at their home studio in Latvia three years ago, I received a kind invitation to participate at plein air painting gatherings. Since then, I have been a regular participant. 

Because of time spent there, my head and heart was full of new knowledge and ideas. By autumn, I was a student at the University of the Arts in London, Central Saint Martins, learning about painting techniques and mixing colours with Rodger Gill. 

A year later, at a plein air gathering, I met an American-Latvian painter, John Delgalvis, who shared about his studies at Arts Student League of New York in the 70s: the academic approach, the atmosphere and history of the place, the people, and the ideas got to my heart quickly. After a half year, I was lucky to join the school for a course on oil painting and Anatomy and Drawing course with Peter Cox. Along with studies there in the beginning of this year, my tutor suggested I seek a space to exhibit my work. Five months after came the opportunity with Conception Arts organization to exhibit in Manhattan in November 2017. 

Aside from latest exhibition in NYC, I exhibit in my home country, Latvia, in castles and countryside manors and Riga Old Town. 

Since some time ago when a friend suggested I put my paintings online, my works have been purchased and placed in collections of art admirers in Latvia, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Italy and Great Britain.


When did you first start painting? Share a little bit of your story with us. 

I started by painting over the basement walls of parents’ house, in an attempt to copy old masters. It led to painting on porcelain, fabric and other materials. After a while I wanted to know more, so got down to books, google, parents and painters to soak up as much information and skills I could to learn painting techniques on canvas (as basement walls are not something easily available wherever one goes:). In 2015 summer, I joined Latvian group of professional painters of various associations at one of the most known plain air gatherings in Vestiena, Latvia. Because of time spent there – head and heart full of new knowledge and ideas – by autumn I was a student at the University of the Arts in London – Central Saint Martins, learning about painting techniques with Rodger Gill. Year later I joined Art Student League of New York for Anatomy and Drawing course with Peter Cox. I put a great effort into being able to spend my vacations from work by studying art and painting at home in the evenings. I started by posting my paintings on Saatchi Art online gallery and after a successful sell there, I thought wow – that’s is a greatest feeling when someone recognizes or relates or likes what my inner world creates. That’s amazing! Joined Fine Arts America soon after and I’m very thankful for feedback from American painters and art lovers like me. Starting from year 2014 I was lucky to exhibit in castles and manors across Latvia and in 2015 March received an Excellence award at an international All Women 2015 art exhibition. In November 2017 was chosen among many to exhibit my work at the Conception Arts art exhibition in lower Manhattan, and now looking to participate in more exhibits I NYC, it is a great experience! I’m also a proud member of StartUpArt young artists’ platform in Latvia, providing opportunity to show and sell work of emerging painters.


We love how you transform daily objects and scenes to beautiful paintings. Tell us about what inspires you and how you choose what to paint. 

I’m inspired by acts of people. For example, my best portrait was done right after a friend called me and said she organized an exhibition for me, without me knowing about it. Or I was dating a man who very much liked the shape of cumulus clouds – I have two beautiful paintings of such clouds and I love the emotions it brought me. Or I made bright, elegant Mediterranean interior paintings after a friend surprised me by creating me a website – best surprise I’ve received recently. One can only be thankful.


What do you think your art is about?

It is about kindness. 

Describe an ideal day at the studio. Do you love to listen to music, have certain items or plants around you when you paint?

I paint at home in the evenings or weekends. I stay late or get up really early on Saturday and have a sketch before breakfast. Probably best time to paint is when it’s raining - most productive, and also - when I need to be somewhere else:) It’s terrible but I find myself often with a need to paint couple hours before I need to leave and then I’m late but I can’t stop, need to finish. 


What is a book, poem, film or piece of art that really moves you?

I have couple of paintings I remember seeing in art books when I was a child. And when traveling I visit museums, galleries and it is the most brilliant feeling of seeing the same childhood painting but it’s original, hanging somewhere right in from of me. It’s like meeting an old friend. And of course I look at other artists works. I have Pinterest profile with my own digital gallery collection - I can browse for hours and I never get sick of museums, galleries or paintings.


What is your favorite way to get inspired?

My favorite way is to see other painters work. It is amazing how people see and have skills to put what the see on a canvas. When I realized I see things differently, I tried learning to express them somehow. For long time I very much related to a meme with caption “DRAWING. Why you no come out as I imagined in my head?!” J Now I don’t have this problem.


What are you looking forward to artistically this year?

I have applied for couple juried exhibitions I hope to get into, fingers crossed. And honestly I hope to sell more paintings to have new ones to paint. I have Gulliver plans, I love to be in motion all the time - hopefully it takes me somewhere good!