Diane V. Radel
Originally from the Cincinnati area, we migrated to Tampa Bay almost 30 years ago. Enrolling in art classes at 60 changed my life, and my artwork has now become the way I tell my story, explore questions, and express gratitude. Donating paintings to be auctioned for charitable fundraisers, particularly ones that spark advocacy in child welfare and ocean/sea turtle conservation, is my way of putting some good out in the world.
It was a primordial experience on Melbourne Beach in 2017, however, that deepened my sense of interconnectedness with the universe. I had an epiphany while witnessing a mama sea turtle return to her birthplace to nest. So began my connection with these creatures and their incredible journey. It’s a story I’ve expressed through a series of acrylic abstracts titled Turtle Tracks Art.
The concept of time plays an important part in my process and my painting. Specifically, mama turtle’s age and the date her eggs hatch, the cycle of growth and our own mortality, and the millions of years before and after that moment invokes profound consideration. I record the time and date of each track with every photo. This allows me to return to my studio and sketch a pattern that will never again be repeated. After drawing the sea turtle’s path in black paint, I add moulding compound to create a textural tableau before adding thin layers of amped-up acrylic paint colors.
While I take the subject of my artwork very seriously, I paint these tracks in an abstract manner using “uplifting” colors, giving them vitality and positivity. There is symbolic, as well as actual, beauty in the topographical nature of these tracks. A combination of art and design that brings to mind a sense of familiarity. Further, in this unprecedented time, there is comfort in the repeated rhythm of nature—morning comes after night, Spring comes after Winter, sea turtles return home to nest as they have since dinosaurs roamed our earth. This is how art becomes a shared experience, connecting the viewer to the moment, with something bigger than themselves. We know that visual messages have far greater impact than words alone. The artist, as a messenger, has a unique responsibility to invite interpretation, empowerment, respect—and action.
Currently, I purchase computer circuits that are attached in an archival manner to the back of my paintings, behind my signature. Any person viewing my painting can download the free app, PixelStix, to their phone, point it at my signature, and a video of me talking about the particular sea turtle track depicted in that painting will appear on their phone. This allows people to connect with me as an artist, and see my motivation and passionate belief that we can work together as a global community to conserve our oceans, as well as all living things that depend on it. I believe my artwork has great potential, in a time of 24-hour images and 30-second reactions, to be an authentic, lasting exploration of hope for the future.
Interested in purchasing Diane’s work? Please contact Amanda Cooper, Curator of Exhibitions (727) 822-7872 x2112