Who is Diane Prater?
Palm Beach Painter, Diane Prater lives with her husband, Ken, in Palm Beach County, Florida. She has two grown children, Stephanie and Jeffrey, both attending college. She grew up in Connecticut and received her formal training at the University of Connecticut School of Fine Arts, in Storrs. Diane studied drawing, painting, design and color under the tutelage of notable American artists, John Gregoropoulos, Nathan Knobler, Paul J. Zelanski, and Roger Crossgrove.
She began her longtime love affair with watercolor during a studio class her junior year. From the first instructional in watercolor wash it became apparent she had a natural affinity for the medium. “Oils and acrylics just don’t offer the same dynamic. You can’t get the spontaneity or engage in that amazing controlled chaos that you experience painting with watercolor!”
Diane went on to adapt her talent to graphics, painting watercolor illustrations for Palm Beach Life Magazine feature articles and nature fold-outs depicting local flora and fauna. It was one of those freelance assignment that sparked her deep fascination with seashells. Then magazine editor, Agnes Ash, loaned a library card to check out a shell reference book from the Island’s members only Society of the Four Arts. During her visit to the Four Arts library, Diane also viewed an outstanding array of specimen shells on exhibit. “As I recall, they were not only beautiful but intriguing. I was amazed, as I studied them through the glass casing, that these wonders with their exquisite design and gorgeous color had occurred quite naturally.”
She completed her assignment and the illustration was published, but her fascination with finding and painting seashells had just begun. She eventually purchased her own copy of the book she’d borrowed from the Four Arts; The Shell, Five Hundred Million Years Of Inspired Design ; and set about collecting many of the specimens shown on the beautifully photographed color plates. “For years I used to have these night dreams – often in color – in which I’d discover a remote beach location with a trove of beautiful, larger-than-life shells. I’d wake up feeling elated – like I’d found hidden treasure!”
She continued to paint on and off over the years while raising her two children and engaging in a variety of “day jobs”. In 2008, after a string of serious challenges involving extended family members, Diane did some deep personal reflection regarding her own future. She embarked on a 13 month journey of personal discovery and during that period her interest in both shell collecting and painting revived. Late that same year she connected with California Painter, Ann Rea, who was instrumental in helping her to establish her rhythm as a professional artist and compile a body of work.
Now Diane collects shell specimens from around the world through shell auctions both here and abroad. “It doesn’t matter whether a shell is rare or quite common – whether it comes from a beach here in Florida or an exotic shore thousands of miles away. If it’s beautiful and strikes a chord in me, I start to envision how I can capture its unique beauty in watercolor. I’m enamored with the eternal quality of the shell expressed through endless variety – the architecture , the colors, and most importantly the feeling of divinity that the shell evokes within me. That feeling is what I seek to express in my paintings and gift to my collectors.”