Diana Crites' dolls and paintings capture eyes, hearts of art enthusiasts
The careers of many regional and local artists have been launched from Lake Oswegos annual Festival of the Arts.
The event attracts talented artists and art vendors eager to share their art with the thousands of art enthusiasts who attend the three-day festival.
Among the artists showing art in George Rogers Parks juried art vendor gallery this June was West Linn artist Diana Crites of Woebegone Art, who presented her intriguing dolls and compelling paintings at the festival for the first time.
Im one of those people who avoids the things that cause the most pain, Crites wrote in a blog prior to the festival opening. Im not talking about physical pain, really; I am covered with tattoos and have a high threshold. Im referring to avoiding the spiritual anguish of being vulnerable, going well outside ones comfort zone, putting oneself in the spotlight.
Crites worries were unfounded; her art was robustly received by festival goers.
It was transformational for me to have such great reception at the Festival of the Arts, she said. That my dolls would reach their hearts made me feel so good.
Crites describes her style thus:
If you are drawn toward art which is symbolic, dreamy and luminous in a dark and delightful way, then have you come to the right place, she writes on her website. My work has been described as where Lovecraft meets Poe, a delightful trip through the looking glass and something from another world. I handcraft each piece with obsessive detail from the inside out, because my art is my passion.
She started making the dolls about 11 years ago. Each doll takes 10 days to two weeks to complete. Her painting- and doll-making processes can be broken into short sessions, which accommodate her busy life. She says she spends the first half of the day painting and the second half working on dolls, and, in between, fits in caring for her three active sons, three dogs and household tasks.
With simple wood blocks and padding, she creates the detailed dolls that are delightful mashups of animal and human characteristics. The heads are made of wood knobs onto which she sculpts polymer clay to create just the right facial features before painting.
I love to make oversize ears, she said. I feel a lot like Geppetto.
Each doll then gets dressed in clothing Crites either makes herself or purchases from American Girl collections. The dolls are delightfully unique art pieces.
Crites said her mother finds her work dark and forlorn, hence the studio name Woebegone Art. Some people might find the dolls and images of her paintings to be dark, but many more find them to be somber and calming, and are intrigued by the images.
In my paintings, I try to capture the scenes that get caught in my head in part, so that I can better understand what Im seeing, she said.
Crites has been commissioned to create remembrance portraits of pets and heirloom dolls of new babies.
Painting remembrance portraits is one of the most gratifying project I can work on, she said. I have a passion for creating art with the purpose to make others feel connected.
The Festival of the Arts was a successful show for Crites; she sold many art pieces and made a few commission sales.
It was incredibly successful and absolutely worthwhile endeavor, she said. I am very proud of myself for fulfilling a long-held dream, standing with my art well outside of my comfort zone, and interacting freely with everyone. It was exhausting but well, well worth it.
Whats next? Crites would like to incorporate robots into her dolls. You might just see that next year at the Festival of the Arts.
To learn more about Crites and her art, visit Woebegoneart.com.