Meet an Artist - Diane Nations

Diane Nations is seen here with her oil on canvas “Four Directions” and photographs of her collages from her series “Under the Influence of Jung.”

Growing up in High Point, Diane Nations loved to paint, but heading into college, she made what she called a practical decision and decided to major in interior design.

It was a field that served her well. She ran her own interior design business for about 30 years in Winston-Salem where she has lived since 1988.

Upon retirement, Nations, 67, returned to painting.

“I’m at the stage of my life where I have the time,” said Nations, who has two grown daughters.

How would you describe your art?

I feel my best work has a spiritual, sacred element in content. The natural world is a tremendous source of inspiration for me, and I turn to inner reflections, myths and ancient traditions as well. My subject matter develops in my inner world and reflects my current studies, dreams and meditations.

Symbolism is an integral part of my work. In my last show, “Path of the Lotus,” the lotus flower was a metaphor of the transformation of human consciousness. My intent is to encourage a viewer to pause, be present in the moment, and be open to whatever self-observations may occur.

Oil is my favorite medium. When time is limited, I turn to collage as a method of expression. The current focus of my next show developed out of my studies of Carl Jung and the collective unconscious.

It will include oil paintings, collages, mandalas and mixed media. It will be a collection of recurring themes I found in my own imaginative journey into the collective unconscious.

Who in your life, or otherwise, has influenced your art?

In regards to artists, early on, I would have to say Georgia O’Keeffe. There was a period of time I was very interested in the work of Alex Grey. His book, “The Mission of Art,” encouraged me to approach my art as a spiritual practice.

Regarding teachers, Edith Saunders (local artist now deceased) gave me confidence to actually pick up a paintbrush and paint intuitively. Karen Parker (Statesville painter) was most helpful in basic oil painting techniques.

How have you evolved as an artist?

I feel my work has evolved in substance as I have grown in my own spiritual life. My focus is more in making a statement rather than creating a pleasing image. My recent discovery of Carl Jung’s “Red Book,” along with his use of mandalas to explore and heal the human psyche, has inspired me to experiment creating mandalas.

What is your biggest challenge?

Time, for sure. I am not a fast, or prolific, artist. My art is a result of a very slow process. Much of my studio time is spent in contemplation. It is a trial and error in color and composition until the process is complete.

What does art do for you?

At this stage of my life, it gives me a sense of purpose and meaning. It has been invaluable to my own understanding of life and of myself. Creating art is a continuous learning process. It keeps my mind active and renews my soul.

Any advice for other artists, either upcoming or employed?

Take time to meditate, observe, reflect and be present with yourself. There is an artist within all of us and many avenues to express your creative self.

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Lisa O’Donnell writes about artists — visual, musical, literary and more. Contact her at or call 336-727-7420.

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