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Art as balm: Creative journaling takes form in paint and clay

Creative journaling takes form in acrylic paintings, clay sculptures

Lille Diane’s artwork is much more than creative expression. It serves as medicine for her body, mind and soul. And she finds creative journaling is her strongest medicine.

“For me, creative journaling is like scrapbooking gone wild, taking it to a whole other level – combining writing and texture and recycled items, turning them into a painting, a message, a roadmap of our life. Creative journaling is Dear Diary and taking an emotional thing that happened and turn it into a playground to work through stress or document happy times or work through sad times. It’s very healing.”

Diane said she began journaling after a car crash 10 years ago at age 55. She was left with post-traumatic stress disorder and agoraphobia, afraid to leave her house. “My injuries were not life-threatening, but my brain was scrambled for about seven years. I was bed-bound for three to four years, about 50 percent of the time. This is why I believe in art as a healing balm.”

The healing balm came sometimes in the form of doodling, what she called “a secret language from your head to your heart.”

“Most people doodle,” she said. “It helps us actually concentrate better. Everyone has a special doodle language, and they have to let it out. If I need to center myself and calm myself, I start doodling. It just pulls me right into a safe place, a happy place.”

As a multimedia artist, Diane enjoys painting with acrylics and watercolor, working with leather and metal and sculpting with clay. “One medium opens up a door to discover another, that opens up a door to another rabbit trail,” she said.

Her acrylic paintings consist of brightly colored landscapes. “I especially love the imagery and the beauty here in this area.”

Diane’s watercolors begin with an ink sketch. “I love sitting in restaurants and sketching while my food’s being made.” Usually she goes unnoticed, but Diane said sometimes customers will walk over and see what she’s drawing.

Leather cuffs are handstamped with designs she embellishes with paint and Swarovski crystals. Her metalwork involves embossing or tooling creating a 3-D effect. And she is now experimenting with a clay series of what she calls “Bluebirds of Happiness in Clay.”

For creative journaling Diane said,”I like to take things, basically trash, and give it a forever life.” She paints a piece then layers it with fabric, paper towels, flower petals, old greeting cards and recycled theater tickets to create other art.

Diane said it is not unusual for her to spend 20 to 40 hours a week on art. “I consider a lot of things creative. It could be writing or designing on my own website, so everything to me is a creative adventure. I eat drink and sleep creativity. My only complaint is there aren’t enough hours in a day.”

Diane, a Mancos resident, shares her talent teaching art classes at The Painted Turtle Studio and Gallery at 200 W. Grand Ave., where she also showcases and sells some of her pieces. She is also gallery manager, class coordinator and works as a volunteer.

“A lot of people think that the studio is just for children or all about clay, but it is technically very diverse. We offer a variety of classes in fiber art, knitting, photography, paint-along classes, clay of all kinds and glass fusing. Multimedia art classes from adult and children.” This summer, they plan to offer music classes.

“One of my side missions is teaching people that art is medicine for whatever ails you. I help people with anxiety, depression, PTSD, and others with agoraphobia and show them how art can pull your brain into a functioning place. Art should be a part of everyone’s life.”

She also teaches online at SkillShare.com, which allows users to select from certain categories depending on what skill they want to learn. “It’s teachers and lay people teaching other people. Hundreds of classes are offered. Anything from sales, gardening, cooking, automobile repair. Whatever you are good at, you pass those skills along.”

She offers two classes at SkillShare.com. One, HandScape, involves tracing your hand on paper and adding watercolor and doodles. The other class is Boho-style window bling using Sari ribbon to make no-sew window covers.

At age 5, Diane began her love of art. In fourth grade, she turned her attention to making paper dolls. “I would make the paper dolls, design the clothes and do an assembly line for my two sisters to make their dolls. I loved being the boss.”

In high school, Diane took both music and art. In her early 20s, she started making jewelry and sewing clothes. She thought her career path was leading her toward fashion design but instead she chose music. For almost 25 years, Diane traveled nationally, singing and playing guitar and ukulele performing jazz, blues and country songs.

At 65, Diane does not consider herself retired. “This is probably the most fun I’m having in my life, this aspect of giving back. And having the time to do it.” She also serves as a board member of the Mancos Creative District.

Her free time is spent with her husband Don, their four children, eight grandchildren dog Toby, a rescued Labradane mix.

For more information, about Diane visit her website at www.yoursoulpicnic.com.

For information about classes at The Painted Turtle Studio, visit www.paintedturtlestudio.org. Visit them on Facebook at Painted Turtle Studio and Gallery or call at 970-533-7136. Hours are Tuesday-Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.


For more information about classes at The Painted Turtle Studio and Gallery, visit



Visit the artists on Facebook at Painted Turtle Studio and Gallery or call at 970-533-7136.

Hours are Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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