The flowing, graceful lines of Alberta artist Diane Williams’ equine paintings belie an underlying power. The colors seem to dance across the canvas and her horses vibrate with a regal majesty. Williams, who has had a life-long love of horses, uses her brush to capture the essence or the inner-spirit of these powerful yet, gentle steeds. A seasoned rider, Williams understands the depth of the relationship between the horse and rider, and in her work, she invites the viewer to experience that relationship at an intimate level.
Her work pulses with energy, color and light. Her true fascination is the dance between the human and the horse, which stands as the inspiration behind the movement and playfulness of each piece. She furthers, “I paint to show the horse’s spirit . . . so that the viewer can glimpse the horse as a soul.”
Although Williams is a horse specialist, she is continually called to the wild Alberta outdoors. Her piece titled, “Jewel-Like Beauty” is a reflection of her love for grizzly bears, the Kermode White Spirit Bear. Captivated by the beauty of the Canadian Rockies, Williams is returning to her roots in painting en plein aire to depict the inner vibration of her local landscapes.
“I want my work to trigger strong, emotional responses,” Williams says. “For the viewer to feel as if she or he is entering the world of light the animals inhabit. I believe that they can help you heal or, perhaps, regain a sense of your inner exquisite self.”
She went on to earn her master’s degree in Art Education from the University of British Columbia and embarked on a teaching career of over 25 years, teaching high school art and photography classes. While teaching, Williams continued honing her artistic skills. She has taken extensive workshops through the Federation of Canadian Artists in Vancouver, BC, and also studied at the Vancouver Academy of Art. Perhaps most influential, Williams studied for seven years at the Sacramento School of Light and Color, where she was instructed and guided by Susan Sarback, artist and founder of the school. From Sarback, she learned how to use full spectrum colors while painting en plein aire.
In 2011, Williams took early retirement from teaching and moved to Alberta, where she now lives on a 500 acre ranch with 35 horses. This dramatic move has permitted the artist to pursue her two great passions full time.
Williams’ artistic style has evolved to allow her to fully express the energy, movement, and spirit of her equine subject matter. Despite her training in photography, rather than trying to depict horses in a photorealistic or detailed style, Williams uses broad, energetic strokes and the entire luminous range of color from her palette.
“I paint using all the colors in a prism,” Williams explains. “I use blue, green, violet, purple, magenta, and turquoise for shadows.
Her work pulses with energy, color, and light. Her true fascination is the dance between the human and the horse, which stands as the inspiration behind the movement and playfulness of each piece. She furthers, “I paint to show the horse’s spirit . . . so that the viewer can glimpse the horse as a soul.”
Williams’ love of dance and her sense of play are reflected not only in her art but also her riding style. Her riding is a mélange of dressage (often described as equine ballet), and dance. She rides her 23-year-old Amos, a Morgan gelding, bareback and with a halter or string around his neck. “He loves the music and begins to lift his legs (Spanish Walk) when he hears it,” she says.
Williams’ paintings have captured the imagination of viewers and collectors throughout Canada, the U. S., and Europe. Her work has been featured in solo shows throughout British Columbia and Alberta, and at Spruce Meadows-Masters trade show. She was featured at the Las Vegas FEI World Dressage Final, where Robinson Lusitanos arranged to fly the artist and four large paintings to the show for their booth. Williams work was also featured at the National Lusitano Andalusian Show in Austin, Texas. Her painting was chosen for the cover of their prestigious show program.
As Williams grows and develops artistically, she feels blessed to be able to have developed a visual language that perfectly allows her to share her vision of the inner essence of the horse. Throughout her work, light has come to play an increasingly important role. “Light represents the spiritual path of the horse, and I try to find the spirit, that inner landscape of the horse,” she explains.
She continues to ride and develop a natural dressage style that mimics the movement of her work with free-flowing steps and fluid motion. This interplay between her art, riding, and love of horses creates a harmonious circle of inspiration that drives her creativity and feeds her soul.
“I want my work to trigger strong, emotional responses,” Williams says. “For the viewer to feel as if she or he is entering the world of light the horses inhabit. I believe that these horses can help you heal or, perhaps, regain a sense of your inner exquisite self.”