Sunday, October 7, 2012

A Peek Inside the World of Poet Artist Diana Randolph

A solo exhibit titled "The Natural World," featuring pastel and oil paintings by Diana Randolph of Drummond, is currently on display at the North End Arts Gallery, located in the historic Trade and Commerce Marketplace at the corner of Hammond and Broadway in Superior. The paintings are a selection of images included in Diana's newly published book of paintings and poetry, Beacons of the Earth and Sky (Savage Press.) This exhibit, sponsored by Superior Council for the Arts, is open through October 20 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. 

Randolph has been a professional artist for over thirty years. Originally from New Jersey, she received a B.A. degree in art from Northland College. She has also taken numerous writing workshops; and studied with master pastelist/author Albert Handell. Regarding Randolph’s paintings, Handell commented, “Diana is a hard-working and talented artist. Whatever she does, she does it well and with enthusiasm.”

Spring - Riverside Lupines
EN: How did you become interested in art? 

DR: I've been interested in art since 10th grade, after taking an Introduction to Art class at East Paterson Memorial Jr./SeniorHigh School in New Jersey. (The school is now called Elmwood Park Memorial Jr.-Sr. High School.)

EN: Who are your biggest influences? 

Summer - Waxing Moon Cradled in Clouds
DR: My biggest influence with painting with pastels is Albert Handell. I first heard about him through his books, then later met him in Woodstock, NY when he lived there. I took 3 workshops with him in the Midwest many years ago. I love his landscape paintings. He taught me how to look at the way light illuminates and transforms the landscape. He is one of the people who endorsed my new book by commenting about my art work. He now lives in Santa Fe, NM.

Other influences are Georgia O'Keefe (I recently read a biography about her life.) I learned about persistence from her. I also love the work of Claude Monet, whose paintings are dazzling. Each stroke reflects light, captured in the moment.

EN: What was the inspiration behind your interest in poetry? 

DR: Imagery has always been important to me. As a child I began keeping dream journals. In high school I loved writing down lyrics of songwriters who had vivid imagery in their work including Jackson Browne and Joni Mitchell. I sometimes doodled drawings in the margins.

I became interested in writing poetry when I was a student at Northland College in the late seventies. After moving out of a small dorm room on campus and into a spacious apartment in Ashland during my sophomore year, my inner space of imagination also expanded. Ideas and images arose, transforming into free verse poetry. I now love Mary Oliver's poetry and the works by many contemporary regional poets.

Autumn - In the Midst of Octoboe

EN: Your book published with Savage Press. How did that come about? 

Winter Path
DR: Yes, Savage Press of Superior published my new book, Beacons of the Earth and Sky. In 1999 I mailed Savage Press a batch of poems for consideration for a literary journal publication that they used to publish. I got a nice reply from Mike Savage saying he would love to publish a little chapbook of my work. He published my In the Heart of the Forest in conjunction with a solo exhibit of my pastel paintings at the Duluth Art Institute. The chapbook was 24 pages and was printed by Mike Savage on his computer printer and hand stapled together. It also contained some images of my paintings that were included in my exhibit at the Duluth Art Institute. Poets usually first publish a chapbook to introduce their body of work to the world and to test the market. Over the years we sold around 500 copies. It's now out of print.

Around 3 years ago Mike Savage contacted me again saying he'd like to publish another book of my poems and art, this time a softcover book with a spine and around 90 pages. So our collaboration began once again. My life/career was busier so it took a lot longer to finish working on it. I decided to title it Beacons of the Earth and Sky, the same title as a duo show I had in 2005 with an artist friend, Birgit Wolff. Beacons of the Earth and Sky is also the name of one of my poems.

Since the book has 5 sections, I worked on it a section at at time, sending each batch to Mike Savage to edit. Then he'd mail each one back to me, one at a time with his editing suggestions. After I made all the changes, I started to select some of my already existing paintings to be included, trying to match up paintings to poetry. That took many months to do so. I told Mike Savage that my daughter, Kaitlin, who graduated college in June 2012 with a cinema and media studies major from Carleton College in Northfield, MN, would be a perfect candidate for the book's layout and design. She had already designed the cover and the 5 section title pages. He agreed to let her do the job. I'm pleased with how it turned out. And it was great fun collaborating with her.

To see more of Diana's work, visit Once in a Blue Moon Studio in Drummond, WI or take a tour at

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