One of the contributing artists at the Oceanside Winter exhibition at the McMillan Arts Centre (MAC) is Diane Claire. If you visited the MAC gallery back in September you would have seen her collection of collage art adorning the walls. The images that spring from Claire’s collage art capture a myriad of emotions. Each piece draws the viewer in evoking feelings and telling a story that is open to interpretation.
Claire, who creates her collage pictures from her apartment in Parksville, began dabbling in the art form when she was a teen, long before knowing collages were an art form. She decided in 2006 to create one on canvas and has been passionately creating the labour intensive pieces for five years now.
Claire said she has been very creative all her life and she is inspired by many things particularly music, movies and books.
She admits she is a very visual, detail oriented person and takes in everything around her.
“Nothing goes un-noticed, be it a single drop of rain water on a petal, a gently worn-down antique key or the gaze of a woman lost in thought,” she said.
When starting a collage she begins by letting her vast collection of images speak to her as she slowly and meticulously builds up each piece, finishing by painting and embellishing it. She said her dreams often find their way into her art work and she incorporates the images onto the canvas.
“I usually work in the morning while I am still in a dream state,” she admitted, adding “It can start from a dream, a photograph or a picture from a magazine that for some reason draws me in. It is not conscious. I then think about colours and other elements.”
She said she never consciously plans the piece, rather she lets her subconscious take over and bit by bit a story emerges.
Claire said it is a long and tedious process that cannot be rushed.
“Each piece takes a long time. I don’t keep track of the time or think about it. I don’t want to focus on time or rush it. Sometimes I work on two or three at a time. If I draw a blank with one, I work on another one. Sometimes the small ones will take just as long as a big one. I have to be patient.”
While her pieces have distinct images, they also have layers of elements that weave their way throughout the canvas.
“It is not just images. There is a lot more than you might notice. There is a background colour and layers of acrylic paint and textures. I use gel mediums, stencils, stamps, and three dimensional aspects,” she stated.
Her work includes embellishments and trimmings which she has no shortage of.
For 20 years Claire designed home and fashion accessories from vintage fabrics, buttons and trimmings. She said her antique styled hats and accessories were popular items and sold well at various galleries in the area but after two decades she decided to evolve as an artist and taught herself how to make collage art. She said she has drawers full of trinkets from her hat trimming days and they come in handy now.
She said it has taken about three years to perfect the various techniques involved in collage art and agreed that she needs strong eyeglasses to carry out the intricate cutting skills needed.
She said her current work is different from her earlier creations and now they tend to be more modern although there are hints of antiques in her work.
“My mom was an antique dealer and I have collected for years. I am always drawn to the past in my art work but now I prefer to have a more modern feel.”
The piece Claire is submitting for the Oceanside Winter exhibition at the MAC is based around a winter theme.
That being said, the finished collage will likely be full of many surprises that will take the viewer on a fantastic journey.
Claire’s collage art can be found at several Oceanside galleries and gift shops including Smashin Glass and Anything Art, TOSH and The MAC.