Diana studio

Diana in her Salt Spring Island studio, 2013

“My work over the years has developed from the abstract, flat, geometric paintings of the 60’s to a greater use of depth of space, colour and light. This includes a struggle to paint the human form while still capturing a sense of presence and enquiry of the individual’s inner being as well as a wish to bring the mythical into everyday life. There is something ‘holy’ in the study of nature that presages the science of colour and proportion in the interplay between life and its reconstuction on the canvas. In addition, I continue to learn from the great masters of the past.”

Diana Dean was born in Rhodesia in 1942 and began oil painting and sculpting at the age of fourteen. She received her training at the important Bath Academy of Art in 1961 to 1964 where she was awarded a Diploma in Art and Education with distinction in sculpture. From 1963 to 1973, Dean exhibited and was awarded prizes for her sculpture in England. Moving to central Canada in 1975 with her family, Diana turned her attention from sculpture to painting.

“With painting, I could paint with one arm and hold a baby in the other.”

Diana encouraged creativity in her four sons, Tom, Max, Seth and Jacob, now all accomplished artists and designers in their own right.  From 1977 to the present, Diana has exhibited in solo and group exhibitions in Toronto. Her development as a painter has been strong, creating a powerful body of work that is epic in subject matter, composition, scale and historical parallels. Using her own life as reference, the artist’s paintings reflect relationships during the passage of time – birth, children, marriage and death. The struggles, issues and challenges of life expressed by the artist in her compositions are transformed to the universal.

In 1982, Dean developed her vision amongst the natural beauty of the West Coast of British Columbia where she lives and continues “creating a powerful body of work that is epic in subject matter, composition, scale and historical parallels”. Diana has been exhibiting in Canada since 1976 in both public and commercial galleries. Her work can be seen in many private and corporate collections in North America and the U.K.

“My work is a journey of bringing together my personal experience of the world, inner and outer, with the magic of materials and their properties of colour and consistency reflecting the marriage of matter and inspiration. My search is to find the essence of my inner vision, to be with it as I create – to be totally open and connected.”

Painting is an expression of who I am, what I know and understand of the world and my inner vision. Now after 50 years of work, I see that painting is becoming an expression of love. In my paintings, I am interested in connection between geometry in nature, in physics and light and the wish to project with paint, the human quality that is present in all of us.

I also believe that if a true painter is working with total focus, but open at the same time, it allows the form to arise, so in a peculiar sense, the artist is the medium for whatever is out there to come into existence. She does not have the finished painting in her head before she begins but allows the creative process to act in its mysterious ways. The best pictures cannot be willed, they just come into being. As Picasso said, “if you know where you go, why go!”

“I put my fury and pain into pain-ting so that I can transform it into something beautiful. My paintings go through a tremendous process of creation and destruction until finally the whole purpose of the painting becomes apparent to me. There is an inner (invisible) structure that begins to take form. At that moment there is a sense of divine proportion between all the elements taking place. I am sure that this is a brief glimpse of proportion connecting to the geometry of the Golden Mean, plus that of a certain ‘order’ of colour in all its manifestations. The most amazing part in a painting is towards the end when all the composition, space and colour has become more fixed in its place – a quality of love comes in and there is pure joy in the final touches of light.

In the line there is only the curve and the line which eventually curves anyway…”.D.D.

In my bedroom painting sister Susan 1959 - 2006-03-12 at 12-18-43

In my bedroom painting sister Susan, 1959

Painting lost

Art school first year painting, 1960


Diana in 2nd year B.A. Art - 2014-11-09 at 14-41-06

Second year Bachelor Arts degree

Diana Dean 1961  St Ives  Denis Mitchell Studio

Diana aged 18 or 19, photo taken in Denis Mitchell’s studio, St Ives, Cornwall when she had finished her first sculpture to get accepted into the sculpture class. The sculpture is made from one piece of elm.