Making a Splash in Art
Diana Trout's Elegant Ripples
Can life be created out of art?
Glenside resident Diana Trout thinks so. She has made her art a life’s work. As an artist, author and teacher, she has spun her imagination and woven in her varied talents designing a rewarding career as an artist. Trout not only created a satisfying means of self-expression but actually found a way to make it pay.
Trout is widely known for her vibrant and unique work in mixed media art, often combining water color layers of paper and stitching. She has developed an innovative approach to her art and writing, forming these into a journaling process. This panoply of color, design and writing has made a decided splash and rippled into exciting opportunities for Trout and for those students who take advantage of her workshops and classes.
If you are a frequent visitor of the Abington Free Library, you might be familiar with Trout’s popular classes: “Art Escape for Children” and “Teen Journaling.”
Her foray into the world of art began at Jenkintown High School when she took her very first art class.
”It just sucked me in,” Trout said.
Envisioning a future as a painter, Trout began her training at the University for the Arts and eventually transferred to the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA) where she received training in classical painting and printing. This experience fired her interest in creating art and opened the door to her hidden talents.
Following graduation, Trout was hit hard and fast with the overwhelming challenges of succeeding and making a living as an artist. Instead of caving in, she began experimenting with different forms of art media, determined to find a way to express her artistic talents.
“I began to retrain myself as an artist and took all the good stuff away from the academy which was academic and infused it with creativity,” she said. “I made art that was a big mess and that was perfectly okay. Now my classical training has come back to a degree, but definitely with my own take.”
Married with two children, Trout began working with a sketchbook and discovered the online world of art journaling.
“It was a playground for making art and tapping into creative process which was revolutionary to me,” Trout said.
She began mixing the process of sketching with her writing abilities; that went into a journal and Trout eventually started bookbinding her own journals. As her skills and confidence took flight, Trout started teaching at national art retreats.
North Light Publishing spotted Trout’s special talents and techniques and asked her if she would write a book about art journaling.
“After picking myself up from the floor I told them, ‘Of course I would like to write a book!’” Trout said.
Nine months later, she delivered “Journal Spilling: Mixed-Media Techniques for Free Expression.”
“I love to write and that opened up a lot of doors for me. Not just the book but the whole process of writing,” she said.
Understanding the power of the internet, Trout started writing a blog to reach a larger audience and to promote her work. In addition to this inspiring endeavor, Trout continues to spread her enthusiasm for art and writing through teaching. Locally and throughout the country, she offers classes and workshops on painting, book covers and bookbinding, and art journaling.
Her goal in teaching is simple.
“Get people to make mistakes, and fail, and see that it is not a huge deal. This helps them make headway with their own personal style and gets them moving without thinking too much.”
In October, Trout will teach painting, as well as two book arts classes, at Art is You, an art retreat in Danbury, Conn.
Trout recently presented her first online workshop, Inner Circle Journal.
“It was great because I could give people as much time as they need to work, write and think and to let things lie and come back to it,” Trout said.
She set up a Blog for students to ask questions and post their work and created 20 videos used to instruct and answer questions.
So what’s swirling in Trout’s own artistic cosmos? She is currently working on her series Northeast Kingdom — an imaginary place with lots of critters, creatures and people composed of layers of paper, stitching and water color. Trout is also working on a small series with a group of artist friends who use stitch in their work.
As if teaching, writing a book and creating her own art were not enough to keep Trout busy, she also made an instructional DVD, “Playful Paper Background,” for Interweave. Trout also designs illustrations for books; last year her work was featured on the cover of “Cloth, Paper, Scissors.”
Trout said she believes in the power of community and is active in Art Sparks, a group of artists who capitalize on blog hop and Facebook to market each other’s creations and special accomplishments. She is also an active in MamaCita, a local group of women artists who recently exhibited a collaborative work, “(W)holon,” at the Abington Art Center.
“Each artist completed four 4-inch canvasses hung in a big grid. Each cell functioned on its own but also as part of a whole,” Trout said. “They are a fabulous group of women to work with.”
Trout said she is not interested in resting on her laurels and plans to do more online classes and work on her small art pieces. Through happenstance and a contact in Ohio, she is planning one of the most adventurous creations of her career. Next summer Trout will offer a seven-day art retreat: “Italy illuminated” in Fabriano, Italy, the original site of papermaking. The workshop will give participants an opportunity to do sketching in the fields and use space at the Paper and Watermark Museum.
What words of wisdom does Trout have for young and upcoming artists?
“Get a business plan, start a blog and learn about marketing. Take yourself seriously enough to realize that you can make a living at this. Follow your passion and get serious about it.”
Check out Trout’s blogfor more information on her classes and art work.