Visual artist paints what she sees with her eyes and her mind


As far back as Diane Carey can remember, she has had a visual artist's sensibilities. She didn't have a camera, so when she would see things she liked, she would draw them. Her love of art and work in oil, and occasionally pencil, grew from there.

"If I can see it, I draw it," she notes.

Although portraits are her primary interest currently, she also favors animals, especially cats.

"I'm a cat person," Carey says in a crisp New England accent - she is from Maine originally. "My sister and son are, too."

Four portraits are hanging in the exhibit, which is Carey's first show. One is a self-portrait; another is a portrait of Carey's son from 1992. A third is Carey's great-grandfather, Judge Gratton Hanley Preston. This portrait was made based on a small picture of Judge Preston.

The last is Ellen Mariah Ellis, Judge Preston's second wife. This portrait was created from a composite of the woman's parents and Carey's mother.


The latter two portraits will be displayed in the family history room at the Forkland festival this year.

Carey's father met her mother when he was in the Navy in 1941. Years later, in 1970, Carey's dad took early retirement and got away from Maine winters. The family came back to Kentucky, where he had lived most of his life, Carey notes.

Sometimes images just pop into Carey's head. One of her paintings on exhibit at McDowell Wellness Center, "The Wave," was just such a picture.

"I painted it in 20 minutes," says Carey, who works for the state. "It had to be done."

Many of the paintings represent places in Maine, she adds.

She has to find time to paint

Sometimes it's hard to find the time to paint, says Carey, a member of the local Gathering Artists visual arts group. She lives with her parents and takes care of them, as they are in their 80s, plus she works full time. Most of her works take two or three days to create, Carey adds. She works mainly on weekends and in the evenings.

"It's a way of relaxing," she says. "I don't expect to make a living at it.

"Finding the time is a challenge, and not being interrupted. I hate being interrupted"

But she wouldn't mind making more money at it.

"When I retired, I'd like to do it full time and sell my work," Carey explains. "I want to be comfortable, to have a good life. If I sell something, great."

She is working on innovating some of her artwork by using a canvas board built up with joint compound.

"It makes something that stands out," Carey notes. "It makes (the painting) more three-dimensional."

Carey says she is considering trying her hand at acrylics, but not watercolors.

"You really have to concentrate on watercolors," she notes. "There are few great watercolorists in town."

She also would like to do more family portraits. Carey says she can work from people's photographs to do the portraits.

Carey also has pictures of churches in Kentucky, and plans on doing a series of paintings from those sometime.

An artistic flair comes to Carey through both sides of her family, something she shares with her sister. Her son paints and also is a musician.

"On his father's side," Carey says of her son, "his eighth or ninth great-uncle was the Englishman who wrote 'God Save the King.' He gets (visual) art on my side."

She remembers something her maternal grandmother said about her one time: "She said my hand sees what my eyes see."

If you want to go

Artworks by Diane Carey are on exhibit and for sale through August at the McDowell Wellness Center during regular business hours.

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