I receive such joy in creating this work. I want you to feel that same joy in living with it!
— Dianna Woolley

In the year 2000, Dianna relocated from New York City and corporate business life to the beautiful Pacific Northwest. The move to Walla Walla enabled her to set up a practical home studio and to establish an identity in the visual painting marketplace.  Hours not spent personally traveling nationally and internationally, Dianna loves nothing more than her disciplined painting practice and production.

Educated primarily in realism — originally rendering accurate landscape scenes, still lives and models — her work has purposefully morphed into abstract paintings rich with layers of texture, as well as transparency. The excitement of color, mark making, and medium lend a depth and representation to her own innovative touch of mid-century expressionism. 

Traveling for the past three years in June to the East Coast of the US, Dianna has participated in the Annual Conference for Professional Artists working specifically or partially with the encaustic/hot wax medium. This exposure to the medium and the professional artists participating in the event has raised yet another bar she's enjoyed clearing. While in the East, she has pursued private reflection and singular artistic exploration on the Island of Nantucket — 2016 in a residency at the NISDA and in October 2017 plans on yet another month long practice of personal honesty, reflection, innovation, and joy in creating.

Dianna belongs locally to ArtWalla, an organization supporting career advancement and camaraderie of local artists.  As a member of the Walla Walla Symphony Board, Carnegie Art Center Board and numerous other arts organizations that she supports on an annual financial basis, she believes supporting visual and performing arts organizations is an integral part of her being an artist, whether the support is in a commitment of time, fellowship or finances. 

Woolley’s mission as an artist, beyond the thrill of creating art pieces, is to engage with others who also create as well as those who do not yet create, have always wanted to create or claim that they haven’t a creative bone in their bodies. Her connections through art with clients, future clients or “just looking” clients are important steps in recognition of humanity’s vulnerability, curiosity, and complexity.  Whether one “likes, or relates to, or just can’t stand” a piece of work enables connection.


Artist Statement

My fondest desire from age 8 until now has been to become a visual painter creating and sharing my distinctive paintings with others. I'm a success in fulfilling that dream.

Influenced and drawn in my heart, mind and studies to classical mid-century expressionism, my abstract work reflects my own juicy contribution to that period of style and artistic endeavor. My personal love and invigoration for travel and relationships frequently show themselves through flirtatious abstraction of natural landscape color, elements, and imagery. Careening into strong architectural references of line and pattern come to me as familiar partners to the abstraction process.
Besides the sheer delight of creating work in my studio, I’m seldom happier than when engaging with the public about what I see in my work and what they see, if anything, in it as well. 



About Encaustic Work

Encaustic painting was practiced by Greek artists as far back as the 5th century B.C.  Most of the knowledge of this early use comes from the Roman historian Pliny the Elder whose Natural History, written in the 1st century A.D. was a monumental encyclopedia of art and science. Pliny seems to have had little direct knowledge about studio methods, so his account of techniques and materials is not thorough, but his discussion gives us an idea of its general usage. According to Pliny, encaustic had a variety of applications: for the painting of portraits and scenes of mythology on panels, for the coloring of marble and terra cotta, and for work on ivory (probably the tinting of incised lines).

Wax is an excellent preservative of materials. It was from this use that the art of encaustic painting developed. The Greeks applied coatings of wax and pitch to weatherproof their ships. Pigmenting the wax gave rise to the decorating of warships and later, merchant ships. Mention is even made by Homer of the painted ships of the Greek warriors who fought at Troy. The use of a rudimentary encaustic was an established practice in the Classical Period (500-323 BC). It is possible that at about that time the crude paint applied with tar brushes to the ships was refined for the art of painting on panels. Pliny mentions two artists who had in fact started out as ship painters.

Encaustic and Tempera Encaustic on panels rivaled that of tempera in what are the earliest known portable easel paintings. Tempera was a faster, cheaper process. Encaustic was a slow involved technique, but the paint could be built up in relief, and the wax gave a rich optical effect to the pigment. These characteristics made the finished work startlingly lifelike. Moreover, encaustic had far greater durability than tempera, which was vulnerable to moisture. Pliny refers to encaustic paintings several hundred years old in the possession of Roman aristocrats of his own time.

The Fayum Portraits – Perhaps the best known of all encaustic work are the Fayum funeral portraits painted in the 1st and 2nd centuries A.D. by Greek painters in Egypt. A significant Greek population had settled in Egypt following its conquest by Alexander, eventually adopting the practice of mummifying their dead. The portraits, painted either in the prime of life or after death, were placed over the person’s mummy as a memorial. The custom of funeral portraits did not begin until after the conquest of Egypt by Rome and lasted about two centuries. The portraits represent the converging influence of Egyptian religious ritual, Greek aesthetic and Roman fashions and social ranking.  Many of the Fayum pieces have survived to our own time, and their color has remained as fresh as any recently completed work.

The great period of economic instability that followed the decline of the Roman Empire and the change in cultural values caused encaustic to fall into disuse.  Some encaustic work, particularly the painting of icons, was carried on as late as the 7th century, but for the most part it became a lost art.  It was replaced by tempera, which was cheaper, faster, and less demanding to work with.

The preceding explanation is from the website of R&F Paints, one of, if not the most well respected manufacturers of encaustic supplies in business today.