Palm Beach Painter, Diane Prater grew up in Connecticut and received her formal training at the University of Connecticut School of Fine Arts, in Storrs. 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 didn’t offer the same dynamic. I couldn’t get the same spontaneity or engage in that amazing controlled chaos that I experienced painting with watercolor!”
Relocating to Florida shortly after graduation, Diane went on to adapt her artistic skills to graphics applications, painting watercolor illustrations for Palm Beach Life Magazine feature articles and nature fold-outs. It was one of those freelance assignments that sparked her deep fascination with seashells. Magazine editor, Agnes Ash, loaned her a library card to check out a shell reference book from the Island’s Society of the Four Arts. During her visit to the Four Arts library, Diane also viewed an outstanding display of specimen seashells. “As I recall, they were not only beautiful but quite intriguing. I was amazed, as I studied them through the glass casing, marveling at their exquisite designs and gorgeous colors.”
She completed her assignment, the illustrations were published and the graphic won an award from the Florida Magazine Association. Her fascination with seashells had begun! She eventually purchased her own copy of the classic shell compendium she’d borrowed from the Four Arts and set about collecting many of the specimens from its beautifully photographed color plates. “For years I’d have night dreams, often in color, during which I’d discover a remote beach grotto with a trove of larger-than-life shells. I’d wake up feeling exhilarated – like I’d found hidden treasure!”
Diane continued to paint privately over the years, raising her two children and employed in non-art related work. In 2008, following a string of serious challenges involving extended family members, she engaged in deep personal reflection about her own direction. She embarked on a 13 month journey of personal discovery during which her interest in both shell collecting and serious painting revived. Later that same year she connected with an art coach who assisted her in reestablishing her rhythm as a professional painter and compiling a solid body of work.
Today Diane collects seashells from around the world and paints in her West Palm Beach studio. “It doesn’t matter whether a shell is quite common or rare – if it strikes a chord in me I begin to envision how I can capture its unique qualities. I’m enamored with the eternal quality of seashells expressed through endless variety and most importantly the sense of Divinity they evoke. That’s what I seek to express in my paintings and gift to my collectors.”
Diane Prater 2018 All Rights Reserved.