Artist Profile

Diana Creighton

A Quotidian World

I’m a narrative artist who uses paint and canvas to tell stories and to make the ordinary beautiful. Lately I’ve been focusing on highways, traffic and structures.

The new paintings come from my riding shotgun on roadways in the west, observing the commerce, traffic and busyness of our interstates, looking at rest stops, going through ICE checkpoints and queuing for border crossings. I am painting people and traffic, cars and trucks and the effect of the border on our lives, not from a political point of view, but from the ordinariness of it. I like the dailyness of life — the quotidian world.

In earlier work I used cartoon drawings, people, animals and toys to tell stories in a made-up world of mayhem and humor. Often a jaguar was a main character. He was an Arizona immigrant who showed up on the border a decade ago and became a continuing presence in my work. He bowed out of the paintings in 2019, when I began to paint from the highways.

As I travel, I’m using my IPhone for quick shots, then printing out the images, cutting them up and re-imagining them, then transferring them to paint.

I’m still using oil on canvas, but now underpainting sometimes with acrylics and using acrylics on paper for working drawings. For the finished paintings, I like the transparency of oils and the ability to use rich color layers. It creates a certain beauty, even when the imagery is ordinary.


A Little Background

I grew up in Los Angeles, where telling stories is a major industry. I got a degree in literature from Stanford and then studied painting at Arizona State while working and raising a family. My first studio was on Indian School Road in Phoenix next to Mo Money Pawn and a questionable massage parlor. I painted mostly big figurative work based on an imagined narrative, using models, cartoon figures and a big stuffed bear who still lives in my studio.

I now live in Oracle, Arizona, in the Catalina foothills northeast of Tucson. I spend a lot of time in nature, hiking and observing, and am closer to the border and border culture than I was in Phoenix. That has influenced my painting in unexpected ways and led me in this new direction.

I show in numerous regional and invitational shows, and my work is in public and private collections.

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