We had the pleasure of interviewing Artist Lyn Diefenbach, who is based in Yeppoon, Queensland, Australia.
Please describe your artwork style
I describe myself as a painter of reality in both oils and pastel. I paint what I see but not in a photo realistic way. By focusing on the technical areas of line, value, colour and edge I build the illusion of the 3 dimensional on a 2 dimensional surface to give my ideas wings for flight.
What’s your background?
I grew up amongst a family heritage of artists and craftspeople and was drawing and painting at a very early age. I sold my first painting (an oil) when I was 12 years old. The local Art Society was very encouraging and took me under their wing even taking me on enplein air paintouts.
Basically I am self taught but have been to some significant tutors who have pushed me in my understanding of the craft of painting. Time spent under the teaching of Daniel E. Greene and reading the book "Alla Prima, Everything I know about painting" by Richard Schmidboth revolutionised and expanded my understanding. More recently a four week workshop with Tony Ryder enabled me to see more subtle transitional value changes. My philosophy is to be always learning as there is always more to know.
How long have you been an artist?
I have been a professional artist for the some 30 years and a teacher of the craft of painting for the last 25 years with teaching engagements across Australia and the globe.
How have you developed your career?
My career has basically developed itself but I do set goals each year and as they are achieved I then set new ones. I have used competitions and exhibitions as a way of getting my work seen by a bigger audience and, of course, having a web presence has made the world a very small place. I have achieved Master Pastellist status with the Pastel Society of Australia, Master Circle status with the International Association of Pastel Societies, Signature Membership with the Pastel Society of America and I am a member of the International Guild of Realism.
Which current art world trends are you following?
I don't follow any particular art trends as I believe that each of us should travel the path that is us. However there are always new ideas to investigate and develop along the way as we find our own unique stamp in the world.
Where do you create your work?
I have a wonderful purpose built studio that has terrific cross ventilation and lighting that is always consistent no matter the time of day. I have 6 banks of double white fluros that have a specially designed cover and means that I have no cast shadows on my work. As well I have a skylight over my easel and a whole wall of south facing glass. Being in the Southern Hemisphere it is the south light that I want.
What do you feel is the role of the artist in society?
I have often thought about the role of the artist in society and for a long time thought that it was a fairly useless, though pleasurable and consuming, activity. I happened to read Pope John Paul 2's 1999 letter to all artists and with this revelation I changed my thinking. I decided to make my voice count. John Paul exhorted "Artists of the world, may our many different paths all lead to that infinite ocean of beauty where wonder becomes awe, exhilaration, unspeakable joy....... May your art help to affirm the true beauty which, as a glimmer of the Spirit of God, will transfigure matter, opening the soul to the sense of the eternal."
After reading this, my studio became my sanctuary and painting my meditation, a way of deep communication and contemplation on the things of God. Artists of the past were story tellers, recorders of the times and of what was in front of them. It is the same today. We can make a statement whether it be political, social or otherwise or we can simply be a vessel for showcasing something that is incredibly beautiful. To cause the world to pause, even for just for a moment and to offer respite from its craziness is something worthwhile.
What techniques / mediums do you use? Which is more important to you, the subject of your painting, or the way it is executed?
I use oils and pastels with a variety of different techniques depending on the subject and the time frame that I have. The subject dictates my approach as does time. For example if I had a model sitting for only a couple of hours my stroke would be broader and more suggested than if I was to work on the piece over a number of weeks. Similarly my approach when painting enplein air is swift - simply getting down the important information and refining it if I have more time. In the studio, given more time, I might take it through to high refinement.
Some subjects lend themselves to just a few strokes or perhaps it is my response to the subject that dictates that. Others need me to take more time, to slow myself down and be contemplative, to take the time to discover all that there is about the subject.
Sometimes when starting a painting I will just jump in without much of a drawing. Other times I will do a good foundational drawing to begin with. This is like having a good road map at the start of the journey. With a good road map you are less likely to get lost along the way and not waste time trying to get back on track.
How do you feel when you are letting your emotions loose on the canvas?
Painting is all about emotional response to the subject. Why do you want to paint it in the first place or why do you believe it will make a good painting? Over the years I have honed my technical skills and am now able to convey more clearly my emotional response to the subject. Having spent many hours at the easel I have a stronger platform for expressing my artistic vision and voice.
What project are you working on now? Any current or up-coming exhibitions? Where do you find your ideas for your work?
I have always got something on the easel and am never without inspiration. As a matter of fact, I think that I have 10 lifetimes of ideas and subjects that I would love to explore. I so hope that I get to paint in heaven.
There are a number of series that I will keep working on for the rest of my life.
One is my "Reflections on a Journey" series which allows me to express my own journey both physically, emotionally, philosophically, and spiritually. Most often they are very complex. I must admit that I am drawn to complexity like a bee to the honey pot. It challenges me to unravel what I am seeing and put it back together using line, value, colour and edge. Most of these works, until recently, have been done in oil. My latest painting from this series is Called "Reflecting in Paris" and is done in pastel which presented a whole range of new challenges. This work has been specifically done for the Pastel enPerigord International Exhibition to be held in St Aulaye , France at the end of July this year where I am one of the guest international artists.
I'm looking forward to working on a new series of "Windows on the Landscape" in oil which will take my floral work and combine it with my origins in landscape. These will be large format paintings and give the viewer the sense of looking out of a window.
Portraits are also amongst my favourite of genres. I often use competitions as an opportunity to paint character portraits that I always wanted to paint and then I get a few commissions during the year to satisfy my yearning for portraiture. Currently I am without gallery representation as my sole representative of 22 years has closed her doors, but I'm finding that the website is filling the gap as I wait for new opportunities. It's great to have a permanent exhibition of work available for the world to view.
How do you know when a work is finished?
I'm so often asked by students "When do I know that a work is finished" to which I reply "when there is nothing in the painting that leaves you uncomfortable". You know those times when you don't want to look at an area because it doesn't "feel right" but you think that if you don't look at it it will go away - it leaves you feeling uncomfortable because you haven't resolved it. I never knowingly let anything out of my studio door if this is the case.
What is your most important artist tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?
I can't live without an easel, I can't live without a huge table to spread my photos on so that I'm constantly finding new ideas, of course I can't live without my paints and pastels and canvasses stacked and the smell of oils, my dog adds to the ambience and I can definitely not live without the air conditioner currently because it is mighty hot in Australia right now.
Is there an element of art you enjoy working with most? Why?
I enjoy what I do and see it as an incredible privilege. I enjoy the first stroke as I set out on a new adventure, I enjoy the discovery along the way and the satisfaction of signing my name at the end. A bit like life really. To add to my pleasure, I get to light the creative spark in others and see their lives blossom with all sorts of possibilities.
To find out more, visit www.ldief.com
You can contact Lyn here: [email protected]