Written by Katya Irwin
Today, Dianne Bersea’s paintings are on display around the world. Her illustrations adorn countless books, including one she is working on right now. Her telephone rings with requests for commission paintings, with a specialty in natural history illustrations and stylized images of the West Coast.
From her studio at Cowork Penticton, she quietly works on her art and her other passion – writing. At 73, she says she has been painting and drawing since age five and working professionally as an artist for 50 years.
And while Dianne is highly accomplished, she confesses she has never been a goal planner. In fact, quite the opposite.
“It’s the story of my life – I have success and then turn and do something else. People have often asked me why I have done so many things, and it’s because I get bored easily. I don’t like to do the same thing for too long,” she says. “I never really got the hang of going in one direction at the same time.”
Dianne realizes she has been living life to the full, anticipating it may be cut short. Her father and brother both died of Huntington’s disease and she knew she had a 50% chance of also developing the condition.
“I suppose that has been my attitude to life,” she reflects.
This carefree life of creativity has led her on many adventures, to meet fascinating people and make extraordinary art.
“I go where the wind is blowing,” she says. “It certainly has provided an interesting life and I have met a great many people. I’m just realizing how many remarkable people it has introduced me to, many of whom are friends to this day.”
What brought her to Cowork
Dianne describes herself as a semi-retired artist, illustrator and writer. She shares the Trestle Studio space with Ranada Pritchard, who offered Dianne half the space in return for being her on-the-spot mentor.
After completing her current three commissions, Dianne plans to focus on her writing. This includes a monthly 'Nature Wise' column in the Penticton Western News, not to mention notebooks filled with ideas she one day hopes to write.
“I have done all things in the art and creative fields, from exhibit designer in national parks to food styling a cookbook. One of my star projects is what they called a flagship exhibit in Banff,” she explains.
Others include illustrating a series of history books on Alberta, creating artwork used on the cover of books, and so many paintings, she has lost track.
“I have been making my living in the creative industries for over 50 years, so a lot has happened in that period of time and a lot of things have changed.”
Before moving to Penticton, Dianne spent 18 years on Cortes Island. Having travelled there to take a workshop, when the class was over, she and her partner Jodi – who have now been together 26 years – stayed on. The Island often attracted successful and wealthy visitors, and her artwork began to receive significant attention, with paintings purchased and transported to far-flung destinations.
As for tomorrow, what does Dianne have planned? Well, who knows? We can only guess that her artistic eye will take her where the wind blows.