"Diane Radel is on fire. Figuratively, that is. The Tampa Bay artist has work in four shows over the next two months: one in Dunedin, one in Tampa, one in Largo, and one in St. Petersburg, No matter where you live in the Tampa Bay area, there's an art show featuring Radel's paintings in your neighborhood this winter.
It's a lot of success, all at once, for the emerging artist. Radel only got serious about art a year ago. She had just turned 60, and she signed up for the only art class at the Dunedin Fine Art Center that fit into her schedule. It was Lorraine Potocki's abstract expressionism class. Before taking the class, Radel says, "Abstract expressionism was not even on my radar."
Radel just wanted tp "capture the exquisite beauty and patterns found in nature," she tells us. Now she takes nature's patterns as inspiration for her abstract art.
Radel's latest project, Turtle Track Art, was inspired by a visit to Melbourne Beach.
"Whenever I visit my daughter and grandchildren in Melbourne Beach, we take a midnight turtle stroll across the sands," she says, "One night, blanketed by inky darkness, we stood motionless as a mama loggerhead sea turtle began her slow ascent from the water. Each movement left intricate traces and swirls in the sands as she followed the call to lay her eggs exactly where she was born. Her tracks represented a journey of hundreds of millions of years. Yet they would be gone by the next day, buffeted by wind, water, and man. I was overwhelmed by the need to document that she was there at that incredible moment. By following and filling in the fin patterns with abstract colors and textures-and noting the day and time of each track-I wanted to capture both the fragility of life and its resilient connectedness."
Radel debuts 11 paintings from her Turtle Track Art series at Stirling Art Studios in downtown Dunedin this month. These are displayed alongside work from her instructor, Lorraine Potocki, and works from Sharon Appler, Sally Maraffi, Kathy Thomas and Patricia O'Malley McEntire. The show, aptly titled "Six Chix," will be up through the month of January.
Radel is also part of a Fringe Art Show at Victory Coffee in Tampa's Channelside neighborhood this winter/spring. Here her paintings are hung alongside work from local printmaker Judy Bales.
The Professional Association of Visual Artists is organizing a solo show for Radel at the Long Center in Largo this January. And in St. Pete, Radel will be live painting at My Favorite Art Place for two days in February . So yeah, Diane Radel is all over Tampa Bay, and we've got the deets."
Vol. 3 No.1 2018
With one small act, like the stroke of a brush, Diane Radel's life was forever changed.
A frequent visitor to the Dunedin Fine Art Center's exhibits and Gallery Shop, Diane had never found time to attend an art class . But at the start of 2018, after marking her 60th birthday, she decided to take the plunge. Enrolling in Lorraine Potocki's Abstract Expressionism painting class. Diane soon discovered a new world of creative opportunities.
"I had always wanted to learn how to paint on canvas," said Diane, who took drawing lessons as a child growing up near Cincinnati, Ohio. "This was my goal, and I thought, "I'm going to do it this year."
She moved to Florida with her husband and three daughters in 1991, and always enjoyed creating, whether she was sewing, refinishing furniture, or painting wall murals. As a student, Diane responded quickly to the Art Center's supportive learning environment, digging into varied styles of painting. Seeing her first piece hanging on the gallery walls was a memorable moment.
"Knowing that I was new to DFAC, (curator) Catherine Bergmann went out of her way to search me out and encourage me," Diane said. "I learn from the other students also. The whole art community is so encouraging —you feel like you're safe to explore."
Inspired by a story about a premature baby hippo named Fiona born at the Cincinnati Zoo, she rendered the hippo in cheerful pastels and a tiny birthday hat during Lorraine's class. "My granddaughter was a 3-lb. preemie, so I have a soft spot for premature babies," Diane said.
With the zoo's approval, the painting quickly became a t-shirt and was featured on WKRC-TV's "Good Morning Cincinnati" show. Animal lovers can pick one up online or at the DFAC gift shop, and feel extra good knowing that a portion of proceeds benefits the Cincinnati Zoo's animal conservation program.
New paintings are now taking over Diane's East Lake Woodlands home, as her art career takes off. She enters every show and contest she can, from the Big Eyes juried exhibit at DFAC, to the Art Ties Us project in St. Petersburg, and finds her work getting noticed. Immersing herself into the culture, she's reading art history books, visiting museums and galleries, and has joined the Professional Association of Visual Artists.
Next up, a solo exhibit at Industrious in downtown Tampa will bring Diane's work to a new audience across the bay. She said the experience of becoming a student has offered an important life lesson to her and her family: Jump in and participate.
"None of these wonderful things would have happened to me if I hadn't tried or been encouraged," Diane said. "It just keeps growing."