Diana Trout is an artist and author of the book Journal Spilling: Mixed Media Techniques for Free Expression. She is also an instructor, teaching classes on-line, on video, and in person. Diana is a contributor to The Sketchbook Challenge blog, and she has her own blog where she helpfully provides Nudges to help readers get their creative juices flowing.
Q: What are you working on right now?
A: I’m working on Moon pieces in different media: 2D mixed media pieces that will include textiles, found papers and stitching. I’m also working on drawings and textile pieces with the Moon as the theme.
Q: What’s your current favorite, can’t-live-without-it supplies?
A: My edited current list: 6B pencils, my orizomegami and suminagahsi papers, shot cottons and vintage kimono fabrics.
Q: What is your least favorite technique that you still use anyway?
A: I’m pretty happy with most forms of art making. I was less patient with things like stencil cutting in the past, but patience increases with age. I used to dislike measuring and I don’t like numbers. At all. To this end, I’ve streamlined just about every measuring job so that there is a “system” in place that I can deal with and shortcuts. My eye for estimating is very well-practiced.
Q: What do you listen to when you create?
A: I like to listen to either music (Josh Joplin, Nelly McKay—mostly singer/songwriter or drum music) or NPR when I’m working. I barely listen to it though, when I’m deep into working. I think the voices are just a comfort. When I’m working at night, I love utter silence.
Q: What’s the best book you’ve read lately?
A: See the stack of books at left.
Q: If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
A: I’d have an emblem on my chest “AW” —Always Wakeful. I really resent having to sleep and am not a great sleeper as a result of it.
Q: What is your guilty pleasure?
A: Murder mysteries and NCIS!
Q: With whom would you love to spend one day making art?
A: Right now, I’d say Eva Hesse. Her drawings make my mouth water, they are so exquisite and sensitive. Jude Hill’s textile work is drawing me in lately.
Q: What’s the most inspiring trip you’ve ever taken or adventure you’ve ever had?
A: I’m always so inspired by travel. Over the past 10 years though, I’d say Ireland and Vermont. I have sketchbooks from all of my trips but the green and whimsicality of these two places really stand out in my mind.
Q: What’s the last thing you cooked?
A: Squash soup. Check out the recipe on my blog.
Q: What one thing do you want to do that you haven’t done yet?
A: Travel throughout Japan. Mostly for the small fishing villages and the papermaking towns. The simple Japanese aesthetic is very appealing to me. There is a compositional brilliance in the simplicity. My five-year plan is to go for a two-month stay.
Q: If you could surround yourself with only one color, what would it be?
A: Dawn is so beautiful. I know that is a cop-out because I’m only supposed to pick one color, but I never think of colors isolated. I see them only in relation to other colors. This picture was taken out my hotel window while in Connecticut teaching at Art Is You.
Q: What’s the best day you’ve ever had?
A: Just one? There have been so many. The days my kids were born are naturally at the top of my list. My husband and I had a fabulous 5-day visit to Rome where we celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary. When I asked my husband to help me narrow this down, he said the day the Phillies won the 1980 World Series. Big help!
Q: Do you have a talisman/power garment/ magical thing you wear?
A: I have a real soft spot for white sweat socks. Terribly uncool, but they just feel so right to me. I have to be careful not to wear them out of the house!
Q: What’s your favorite place in all the world?
A: I love mornings on my back porch. I sit on the step and watch the birds and squirrels and drink tea. All seasons.
Q: What’s today’s Word to Live By?
A: Intuit. Today and every day.
Q: When is your favorite time of day?
A: Morning is so full of promise and I feel very energized. This is my best time for working. Night-time is quiet-thinking time so stitching or journaling is very good.
Q: What is your first memory?
A: I have a whispery memory of a gray violet rug, an old woman and an old fashioned secretary desk. I once asked my dad about it, and he seemed very surprised at the amount of details I remembered. When I was about 18 months old, my parents bought a house and we all went to look at it. The secretary now sits in my living room and the color of the rug is completely fresh in my mind.
Q: What’s your best piece of advice for artists?
A: Go with your gut. I try to leave thinking out of the studio and simply work. This is not easy in our product-oriented society, especially if you are trying to make a living. But it is necessary to push your boundaries as an artist. You can find the market AFTER you make the work.
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