Thursday, August 25, 2011

From particle physics to Floral Art

Pastimedesigns  -  Interview with  Diana Smailus

How old were you when the idea of being an artist first came up?

I was a late bloomer. In the early 90's, before the web became public, particle physics laboratories and universities used it as a means to communicate graphics electronically. I worked at such a facility and was blown away when Computing Division personnel gave us a demonstration. My boss seized the opportunity to use the web to provide educational resources for K-12 science teachers and students. I found myself sitting at my desk with new software and a Photoshop 2.5 book in my lap trying to figure out how to design graphics for the new website. One of my projects was to illustrate the plants found on the prairie surrounding the laboratory. Photoshop wasn't the right software for that project. I found myself, again, sitting at my desk with Adobe Illustrator vector software and a book in my lap. I was totally hooked and loved it.
Prairie Wildflowers Poster print

Could you tell us about what kind of floral art you do?

I draw all my wildflowers on the computer using Adobe Illustrator software and incorporate gradient meshes, which give the flowers and leaves a more realistic look. I refer to Briton & Brown's "Illustrated Flora of the United States and Canada", 1913 editions for plant characteristics and the US Plant Database for colors.

Prairie wildflower greeting/notecard card

Who inspired or taught you?

I would have to say my mentor, Liz, who first showed me how to use Illustrator way back when. She kept telling me to forget using Photoshop for drawing and learn Illustrator. It's very tricky software to use and I would get frustrated easily. I took a semester of Illustrator at a local college and got straight A's. That's when i decided, "Hey, I can do this."

Morning-Glory Mug mug

How often do you create?
Now that I'm retired I draw something everyday, even if it doesn't end up on Zazzle. Sometimes I go back and look at my early drawings and think "yuk" and I update them.
Bamboo Leaves Invitation invitation

Which were the best moments for you so far as an artist?

The best moments are when someone actually buys my work. It's hard to wrap my head around being considered an "artist." It's probably because I use the computer, which is very forgiving. Receiving such nice compliments from fellow Zazzlers also gives me a "great moment."

Which were the worst ones?

When I see a mistake on a drawing that's already been published. I cringe and hope no one notices before I can fix it.

Opaque Blue Wisteria Vine Stationery stationery

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