I’m beyond excited to share today’s interview with London based artist, Diane Hill. I’ve been following along with her Instagram for awhile now, and seeing her beautiful watercolors on silk is one of the highlights of my day.
Diane who makes her home with her children and husband in the bustling city of London, was trained by artisans in the Chinese art of painting silk also known as Chinese brush painting. Her work is full of colors and captivating renderings of beautiful florals and birds, making her artwork the perfect addition for any art collector looking for an elegant piece to add to their home.
In this interview Diane shares about one of the most important lessons she learned during her training, the florals and birds she frequently features in her work, and a sneak peek at an upcoming collaboration.
You are a London based artist with a love for birds, flowers and chinoiserie. When did you first fall in love with the artistic world?
I have been artistic since I was conscious, so it was all so natural for me. I became very interested in wallpaper design during my university years, during my course I made a connection with a Chinoiserie wallpaper company who became my first and only job. This was where I really fell in love with the Chinoiserie style, the delicate nature of the painting really captivated me.
While you make your home in the UK, you were trained by master painters in China in the art of chinoiserie and traditional techniques. What was one of the most important lessons you learned during your time there?
The way the artists paint so neatly and precisely with such tiny detail was mesmerizing. As well as learning about the ‘unconscious’ paint style which is a free hand style of painting also known as Chinese brush painting. The artist lets the brush guide them, they must already know what that particular flower looks like in their head and only then can they freely paint.
You use natural brushes specifically designed for using watercolors on silk, what is the biggest difference between painting on canvas versus silk? Also, is there a particular brand of brushes/watercolors that you use?
I cannot paint this delicate style of Chinoiserie on canvas really, the fibres are too dense and the paint would not blend. The silk is completely smooth and has been treated with a fish glue to enable the watercolours to blend to perfection without bleeding. I use any high quality gouche paint, Windsor and Newton are a good choice. My brushes I get directly from China.
What inspired you to turn your love of art and creating beautiful watercolor pieces on silk into a business?
It was not really anything that inspired me, I actually had no other option in the end as I was not happy to be working for a company and traveling such a long commute (I had been there 6 years!). I told myself I would never work for anyone again, I needed to be set free and fly! I was not able to be as creative as I wanted to (especially in terms of bold colour!) , I had so much more to give and the only way I could do that was to work for myself. It was the only option for me to get the life I wanted and to be with my family more.
What are some of the birds and florals that you like to feature in your artwork?
I love painting cranes and am currently working on a beautiful flamingo which I cannot wait to reveal! I love to paint peony flowers, they are my favorite and feature in most of my work as they were such a predominant flower in many antique Chinese wallpapers.
Is there a specific color palette that you are working with right now, or a color in particular that you frequently feature in your work?
I have a real love for pink and turquoise, I also combine with lilac, blue and peach most often 🙂
What is a typical day like in your home studio?
I set the kids off to school by 9am then go to a gym class for 30 mins to an hour, then I am working in my loft studio all day either painting or glued to my screen! Anything from customer service to new projects or designing on photoshop.
You have an upcoming collaboration with the Sarah Flint shoe brand here in the US. How did this collaboration come about, and what is the best part about working with Sarah and her team?
It has been amazing and I am honored that she asked me to design for her! I recently went viral on Instagram when I launched a charity art print for black lives matter organizations, I suddenly jumped 15,000 followers in a week and gained lots of new interest and collaboration requests. Sarah Flint was one of them and I couldn’t be happier, she is a lovely lady and through all communication with her team it has been a real pleasure!
Your work has been featured in well known magazines such as Vogue. What was it like seeing your work in the press for the first time?
The Vogue feature happened within a few months of launching my brand and I just couldn’t believe it! I remember jumping for joy and getting praise from all my friends, it was a huge achievement to happen so soon!
In addition to your original work, you also offer art prints, iPhone cases and limited edition pieces on your online shop. What do you enjoy the most about seeing how customers display their artwork etc on social media?
My online sales are actually my favorite part of what I do, I am able to sell my designs at a price that is more accessible which makes me super happy. So much so that this is the direction my business will be heading in from now on. I love hearing feedback from my customers about how much it meant to them! Often with my bespoke wallpapers for interior designers I am not able to communicate with the end client at all, so it has been so refreshing!
You also offer bespoke services that include hand-painted wallpaper, murals and original paintings. What was one of the most recent mural projects that you have created for a client?
My most recent bespoke mural was a custom soft pink cherry blossom painting that I painted directly onto a textured wallcovering.
Keep up with Diane via her website and on Instagram @dianehilldesign
All images in the post are via Diane Hill.