Imitating Life Posing questions to local artist Diana Barnes

“Dreaming,” mixed media on wood panel

Cory Bilicko
Managing Editor

In 100 words or less, what do you do as an artist?
I am an oil painter. I used to teach high school art and [am] currently a graduate student at Loyola Marymount University. I am in the Marriage & Family Therapy program for clinical art therapy.

What motivates you to create art?
I love the world we live in, so I always get excited by the environment, the ocean, mountains and sky. I love drawing and painting the figure. Music is a big inspiration— jazz, classical and rock. I try to find my impression of life through the abstraction of reality.

How has your practice changed over time?
I have embraced more color and loosened up in my style— try to experiment and express freely.

Do you ever get artist’s block? If so, how do you combat it?
Sometimes, of course. I first set up my palette; laying out my paints is a very methodical process. Then I will usually just start painting, do small comps and thumbnail sketches, mixing colors to get in the mood.

What do you think your life would be like if, for some reason, you could no longer create art?
I think there are always ways to make art. It might not be what we are used to, but there are always ways. If I couldn’t paint with my right hand, I would paint with my left. I would learn new and different ways to express myself creatively.

 “Birds of Paradise,
“Birds of Paradise,” oil on cardboard

What role does the artist have in society?
I think people enjoy having [art] around, but I don’t think they respect it or the artist, whether it’s performance or visual art.

How do you feel when people ask you to explain the meaning of your art?
I don’t mind, but sometimes it does not have to be explained— the viewer can have their own response or interpretation.

Have you ever been banned or censored to any degree as an artist? If so, how did you react? If not, how do you think you would react in that situation?
No, I think I would try to express myself in alternative ventures.

Does your artistic life ever get lonely? If so, what do you do to counteract it?
No, I enjoy creating and when possible I will go to galleries, museums or drawing groups.

What do you hope to achieve with your art?
I want to continue to grow and explore through my work. I want to work with and help others through my practice of art therapy.

 “Woman Lying,
“Woman Lying,” oil on canvas

What are one or two primary areas of fear for you as an artist?

Sometimes exposing my work and judgment.

What are one or two factors that, when they’re in place, enable you to really flourish artistically?
Being organized in my studio so that my work can flow.

What jobs have you had other than being an artist?
A mom and a teacher.

What’s your favorite color?

To view more of Barnes’s work, visit .­­­