Artist Diana Toma caught our eye after uploading to the National Arts Program®’s Online Artist Gallery. Her thoughtful watercolor paintings draw you in for a closer look at the beautiful way she manipulates light and color. We reached out to Diana hoping to learn more about this talented painter and she was more than happy to answer our questions.
What first sparked your interest art? How did you discover your artistic talents?
One of my earliest memories is following my dad around, he'd give me a pen to scribble. I always had an interest in artistic activities. Drawing has been my toy, my friend, sometimes my therapist - my outlet for self expression. But I must give huge credit and thanks to my mother who kept an eye on my inclination, and after I graduated high school, paid for a year of private art lessons with a professor at my local University that enabled me to learn the basics of drawing and painting. That training got me a scholarship to the Faculty of Arts, which I graduated magna cum laude. After that I’ve never imagined myself doing anything else then something artistic or creative.
What type of art do you create? What mediums do you prefer?
I am fascinated with observing unassuming moments, whether it’s a random nature corner, a critter or a person’s face. When observing curiously, wholeheartedly, I relate. I experience a communion with another’s essence. My paintings are meant to be witnesses of such extra-ordinary moments, and my intention is to capture the uniqueness of being, bringing a sense of wonder by engaging the viewer emotionally. There is a profound meaning to be found in that place where we overlap. I use watercolor, acrylic, and recently oil. I also love to mix mediums and discover unconventional ways to combine some of these media.
Tell us about your career. Are you a full-time artist? Do you work or have a career outside of the art world?
I am proudly a full time artist, but it hasn’t always been smooth sailing. I moved across the ocean from Europe to the US nine years ago and, not knowing anyone here I felt as if I had to start over yet again, and it took me a while to find my path here. I am grateful for every experience though, as it taught me I truly want to do what I love, be busy doing it, and make a living solely as an artist. I prefer to create my own schedule so I can have the freedom to move around, discover, get ideas and investigate them in my art studio. Without that uninterrupted studio time one can’t truly develop as an artist. Recently I’ve been getting commissioned to paint live at events; such as the first dance at a wedding and I’ve been able to travel out of state with this type of work. This year I also won Michaels grand prize award: an all-expenses paid trip to Paris, France, a contest with over 11,000 submissions. I took that occasion to extend my trip and visited Italy and Spain for three weeks. I couldn't have done all this if I was in a 9 to 5 job.
Do you teach? Are you planning to further your art education in the future?
I hold a M.F.A. (Master of Fine Arts) degree from University of Art and Design of Cluj-Napoca, Romania - my country of birth. It’s a terminal degree in visual arts, there’s no further education available. There are related doctoral programs in art history or other theoretical departments, but that’s not my path. I am a creator at the core, and where I love to spend my time is in the studio, painting. As far as furthering my technical skills, I always continue to study - there isn’t an end to learning. I watch videos with demonstrations and I take the time to look at a lot of art on a daily basis.
It’s been about a year since I started teaching and I now offer adult classes and workshops every quarter. The feedback has been tremendous, I have participants coming back for more classes. Some write me letters of appreciation. A wonderful student sent me a Christmas card saying that I was one of the most important people in her life in 2014 - I am still deeply moved by that! Teaching changed my life. It has me working harder to be a greater artist so I can teach effectively. It also had me discover a hidden power within me - that of showing people how to fall in love with painting. See, I don’t just teach painting techniques, in my classes I model a way of living, that in which you as the student get to become aware of two life changing facts: one - you are already creative; and two: there is immense beauty all around you waiting to be noticed. And getting these, impacts positively all other areas of your life.
What was the last art exhibit you took part in?
Two weeks ago was the opening of a one year long art show at Sandy Springs Heritage Museum titled "Sandy Springs Then and Now” where photography and art came together to showcase aspects of this city. I had the honor to be selected and have my watercolor featured on the event invitation. With this occasion I got to personally meet the Mayor of Sandy Springs, and learn more about this charming city near Atlanta, Georgia, that has adopted me for the past 5 years. I am also preparing to submit my work to a couple of local art shows this coming week. I love to connect with new audiences and I am a “yes” to almost every opportunity that comes my way!
Have you participated in a National Arts Program Exhibit?
One of the art centers that I currently teach at belongs to Fulton County Arts & Culture, and they invited all art instructors to participate in an art show that opens next month in downtown Atlanta, GA. This is my first time participating in this program. I’m excited to be part of this new opportunity and see where this will lead me.
How did you hear about the National Arts Program® website? What prompted you to upload your artwork to the NAP online artist gallery?
When I submitted my application to the Fulton County National Arts Program®’s upcoming art exhibit, I was prompted on my screen to visit and sign up for the National Art Program Online Artist Gallery. I did not know what it was, but I took a look and I saw a great deal of beautiful art there, so I decided to upload some of my work as well. And here we are!
Do you have any other online galleries where you display your artwork?
I have created a visual blog where I post my current work and even work in progress: http://artbydianatoma.tumblr.com. I am also very active on social media, especially Facebook at www.facebook.com/ArtByDianaToma. Here I connect with a growing community of fans of my work, and I get direct feedback from them. Our generation has discovered and is offering an amazing opportunity to people from all over the world: to connect with each other online, making this world a smaller world. Since connecting and allowing people to see inside my work process and getting their feedback I’ve also been catapulted to a whole new level of work ethic and productivity. I now understand the true power of art: it touches, moves and inspires people. My mission is to spread the love of painting in a positive manner, and to show people that they can access their untapped wells of creativity trough painting. That can literally change the way they see themselves, and the world.
Is there anything else you would like people to know?
I would love to show people, through my own personal example, that being authentic is the fastest, most effective route to increase your influence and make a difference in your own life, and in the world. You can take your talent, your passion and use them not just to make a living doing what you love, but also to generate meaningful exchanges and renewed relationships with the people around you. As I heard someone say: the quality of your life is in the quality of your relationships.
I love to connect with people - I’m a down to earth person and I treasure communing with others. I invite you to connect with me via Facebook, email, or join one of my classes where we can get to interact in person. You can find my teaching schedule at www.inthatmood.com. Since I’ve been connecting with people all over the place, I’ve got an increasing number of requests to create an online art class - if I don’t yet teach in your city, keep an eye for that to come to fruition soon! You may find out more about my work and how to connect with me on my website at www.artbydianatoma.com