Diana Skeates, a talented contemporary Celtic artist

December 15, 2017   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

Since her remarkable, spontaneous beginning as an artist, Loretto’s Diana Skeates has been following the interweaving Celtic designs that come to her and insist she draw them for 20 years.

Here is how it began: she was in hospital in Toronto, recovering from surgery. A friend of hers dreamt about her painting and brought her some supplies.

Intrigued and still influenced by morphine, Diana proceeded to draw and paint all the beautiful flowers she saw on her bed curtains. Then, she went to sleep.

When she awoke, her father was sitting beside her, inspecting the painting of flowers.

“Who did this?” he asked her. She told him she did.

“Where did you see the flowers?” he inquired.

“On my curtains,” said she, except they were all white …

At lunch with her mother a short while later, a poorly drawn Celtic design brought a challenge to Diana from her mother to do it better.

The following week, she was in Utah, with her husband Braden Wright, who was working as a publicist on a film. They had a small apartment in Park City with a view of the mountains.

As Braden headed off to work for the day, Diana had a  picture in her head and sat down to draw it. It was a Celtic Cross with intricate interweaving throughout the points and circle of the cross.

Diana sat and drew, in her dressing gown, a cup of tea by her side growing cold. When Braden walked through the door, Diana thought he was coming back because he had forgotten something. He was coming home at the end of his day, some 16 hours later.

Much to their surprise, she had complete the beautiful cross, quite in proportion to itself, with the decorations of the weaving correctly consistent throughout.

“I was stunned, thrilled, in awe of the whole thing. Then, I had to think, ‘What do I do from here?’

“After that, pieces just kept popping into my head and popping on to the page. It was just something I had to do. They kept dominating my thinking – I had to draw them,” she related. “Once they were drawn, I might as well paint them – they just kept coming.”

Like any artist, Diana has progressed. She explained some of the transformations, perhaps as strange as her beginnings.

“Originally, it was designs on white background. And then came the suedes and the colours. The first one – I had a piece that was three-quarters painted. I was reaching for something and knocked over a pot of dark brown paint. Like you would, I started grabbing paper towel, anything I could, to get it off the painting. When I was done, I stood back to look at it and thought, ‘Oh, my God, that looks like suede, it looks great. Then I was months trying to figure how I did it until I finally managed.”

Since then, Diana has introduced colour background to most of her paintings, complementing and enriching them.

For Diana, “The energy of the interweaving Celtic lines of life are the connection of every person to everything else – how we’re connected to nature and the universe – that’s huge.”

Of her suddenly found talent, she commented, “One Christmas, I was determined to do a star. I did three other paintings but no star until the next Christmas. That is to say, am I in charge of this? Not so much. It’s a gift and one I am utterly grateful for.”

In celebration of her 20 years of Celtic painting, Diana has brought her paintings out in prints and Giclees on stretched canvas. Some of her designs combine the ancient races in their common understandings of our interconnectedness and search for peace.

For more information, check out the FaceBook pages at contemporary celtic and celtic fair. By telephone on 905-392-7780

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