While putting the finishing touches on their shows, we took a moment and asked Diane Washa and Alex Mandli to reflect on their work. As they were taking part in a joint effort, we thought it would be interesting to ask the two of them the same five questions, even though they were working in drastically different media.
Q1: Why did you decide to work in your chosen media?
Diane: "I was drawn to oil painting while studying art at Milton College. My classmates and I periodically took road trips to the Chicago Art Institute where I was drawn to the color palette, brush strokes, composition and expressiveness of French Impressionist painters."
Alex: "As a child, I would spend time playing in open fields near my home, and I was fascinated by the way mud could be sticky, slimy, and plastic. After a few days of sunshine, the marks my bike tires and shoes made were hard enough to pick up. When I was ten years old, I made my first piece of pottery. As a student, I was always drawn to art class and the hands-on approach to the subject because it was so rewarding. After college, I exhibited drawings and paintings, but I always intended to have a studio to work with clay. In 1978, I built a studio and salt kiln with the intention of spending the rest of my life playing in the dirt.
I've always made things with my hands; I am a “Maker”. Most of the people in my family had jobs making things with their hands and I continue that family tradition. I spend my time creating things that didn't exist before I made them. The creative process is what gives me joy and satisfaction."
Q2: How has your work changed over time?
Diane: "I believe it was Renoir who said after painting for over fifty years he was still learning how to paint. I have only been painting for eleven years so I have a long way to go to master this art form. I am not exactly sure how my work has changed over time but I hope my audience sees that my technical style is becoming more refined and sophisticated. The aspects I’m focusing on currently include using different types of brush strokes, creating a richer, more sophisticated color palette, more skillfully addressing ‘edges’ and working bigger.