While walking through the Chanute Art Gallery, one can’t help but notice Diane Dobson Barton’s keen eye for detail. The Humboldt artist’s work is currently on display at the gallery through July 2.
Most of her work is portraits of various family members, pictures of the sunset from Humboldt Hill, or the month-long challenge she put herself through in February, where she painted one picture per day of objects she put in a box.
After leaving her job at the Chanute Public Library in May 2019, she now has more time to dedicate to her artwork. And looking at the 29 pictures she painted in February, her progression is easy to see.
“I can always find one thing I really like in every portrait I do, then there are maybe two things I really want to change,” she said. “Every time I pass by, I just want to take a brush and fix them.”
While her perceived mistakes are not visible to the viewer, she will not let herself go back and make corrections.
She said that time spent working on past projects would keep her from the world of creativity in front of her.
“My goal is to just get better with every painting I do. I still have a lot of room for improvement and I feel like I improve every day,” she said.
The amount of time she spends on projects varies. One of the more detailed pictures of strawberries she painted on Feb. 29 took her the least amount of time.
“The picture of the strawberries and the picture of the pears took me very little time to paint, while the picture of the kiwis took me long enough for them to actually dry out,” Barton said.
Barton has several artists she admires and she strives to one day have a piece of art hanging in the National Art Gallery. She looks ahead to future contests, hoping to grow as an artist.
“I’ve been an artist my whole life really. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t drawing or painting,” she said. “I’ve always been the one the family comes to to have a picture drawn. My husband Jim has a large family, so they have always kept me busy.”
Also on display are some pieces that used to hang in Jim’s office. Lifelike portraits of Jackie Robinson and Amelia Earhart surround pictures of the family’s dogs throughout the years.
Though she can paint a portrait of anyone, the ones of her family are the dearest to her heart.
“I’m the grandma that is always going around taking pictures of her grandkids. I can never have enough pictures and I am able to use those for portraits,” she said.
Barton will hold an informal chat for people who submit questions to her on Facebook Live this Saturday from 1 to 2 pm. She will also talk about the process she goes through when painting a portrait. The link for the virtual studio is Facebook.com/DianeDobsonBarton
The Chanute Art Gallery is open from 11 am to 4 pm Tuesday through Saturday.