Artist of the Month: Dianne McNaughton

Kim Rodeffer Funk's picture

Serene, peaceful, calm and trans-portative are the words which pop into my head each time I see one of Dianne McNaughton’s paintings. She gathers a great deal of inspiration from the natural beauty found around her home in South Africa and her travels.

Dianne paints a fine line between abstract and realistic. She pulls you in with details and makes you see things you might otherwise miss.  One can absolutely feel her love for her work in each piece and understand how she puts a part of herself into them. I know you will love exploring her work here and find her story and explanations intriguing.

Go ahead and grab a cup of tea, sit back and allow yourself to get lost in these beautiful paintings and inspiring words. I dare you to take an armchair trip into the world of artist, Dianne McNaughton.


Cape Connections #1. Artist Dianne McNaughton

Cape Connections #1


Cape Connection #2. Artist Dianne McNaughton

Cape Connection #2


How long have you been an artist?

It has always given me great pleasure to be creative. As a young child, I loved to draw, create models; at one time I even created shell sculptures. As an adult, while working as a nurse, I created fabric wall hangings and small soft toys from fabric scraps which I then sold at a craft market. Twenty years ago I retired from nursing and took the opportunity to enrol in a painting class and I was immediately entranced, I felt a sense of wonder and excitement in that first lesson, I had found where I was meant to be and I felt a sense of purpose. I realized there was so much for me to learn and I steeped myself in art lessons, workshops and art history lectures.


Cape Connection #3. Artist Dianne McNaughton

Cape Connection #3


Cape Connection #4. Artist Dianne McNaughton

Cape Connection #4


Where do you work? How long have you been there?

My husband and I seem to have moved around quite a bit since our children became adults and left home. We have lived in three different countries with different cultures since 2006. I have to be adaptable and create a working space in whatever situation I find myself. I usually commandeer a well-light bedroom and set about establishing a comfortable creative space. I always find it very disruptive to move studios, it can take a few weeks before any ideas, my imagination, or creativity can flow in a comfortable stream and eventually appear as an image on the canvas or paper. I dream of inhabiting a beautiful, purpose-built studio with large windows looking out onto a forest or a river.


Approaching Northwester. Artist Dianne McNaughton

Approaching Northwester


Arum Lily. Artist Dianne McNaughton

Arum Lily


What does a typical day look like? Is there a typical day?

I wake very early, often sometime around 5 am.  My circadian rhythms have definitely set me as a “morning” person. I go into my studio around 6am with a cup of tea and a bowl of fruit. I like to start my day reading one of my art books or watching an art demonstration on the internet. I then proceed to paint for an hour or two before my day starts. I continue to go back and forth into my studio between all the other demands on me during the day. As a painter of water-media, I find this convenient; I can leave layers to dry and then work on top of the dried layer after an hour or so. I do not find this method of working disruptive; I am able to pick up the threads of thoughts when I walk through my studio door.


Cape Connection #6. Artist Dianne McNaughton

Cape Connection #6


Daisies at Kirstenbosh, ipad. Artist Dianne McNaughton

Daisies at Kirstenbosh, ipad


What materials do you prefer?

I am mainly a water-based painter, I love painting with acrylics and watercolours, but also enjoy mixed media. I am unable to work with oil-based paint as the solvents affect my health. I love the versatility of acrylic paint; it just lends itself to experimental processes. I can thin it down and work in an almost watercolour style or use it thickly as in oil-painting. There are no rules with regard to thick over thin paint as there is in oil painting, I can paint in as many thick and thin layers as I require without causing cracking of the paint. I love that it dries quickly, allowing me to continue working on the painting without a break in continuity.

Pure watercolour, when painting flat, has a fascination for me. The various pigments all behave differently, I love how each pigment settles and dries into its own pattern, which cannot be controlled or planned by the painter. One of my teachers, Margie Johnson said that painting in watercolour is like “painting with the angels.”


Dance with Passion. Acrylic. Artist Dianne McNaughton

Dance with Passion. Acrylic.


Dawn on the Rocks. Artist Dianne McNaughton

Dawn on the Rocks


Where/How are you inspired?

My inspiration comes to me in two different ways, from the world out there as I see it and from my inner senses, imaginations, and thoughts. I live in a very beautiful area, on a peninsula at the tip of Africa. We are almost surrounded by sea and have a group of mountains running down the spine of the peninsula. I belong to a group of outdoor painters that paint in different venues every Monday. There is nothing that comes close to the bliss I feel when sitting on the rocks, listening to the rhythmic sound of the waves, smelling the saltiness of the air and then trying to paint what I see and feel.

Inspiration also comes to me from within, stirred by fragments of memory and imagination and a love of the physical aspects of the paint, its texture, tone and colour. My paintings can start in an experimental way, just playing with the physical aspects of the paint. Imagined images tend to appear during the painting process and I allow them to lead the way. Initial images can then be obliterated when new images appear, each painting taking me on a long, transformative journey. My love of rock pools, sand and water often emerge in these imagined images and I have painted a whole series of paintings in my Cape Connection Series.


Freedom. Acrylic. Artist Dianne McNaughton

Freedom. Acrylic.


Noeline's Roses. Mixed Media. Artist Dianne McNaughton

Noeline's Roses. Mixed Media.


How do you know when a work is done?

I know the work is finished when I feel all the areas in the painting are working well together. For me, this can take a long time with many transformations until the work feels right and complete. Some paintings take months until I am satisfied, sometimes this doesn’t happen at all and I can almost obliterate the painting in frustration, only to have a new image arrive and be complete within a couple of days.


River in spate. Acrylic. Artist Dianne McNaughton

River in spate. Acrylic.


Rock Pool #2. Acrylic. Artist Dianne McNaughton

Rock Pool #2. Acrylic.


Do you work on one or more pieces at a time?

I find it is a good idea to have, maybe three works on the go, so that I can leave a painting for a while and then come back to it with fresh eyes. I like to work on a large canvas using my acrylic paints and also have a few smaller watercolour paintings on paper on the go, so that I have a change of painting mediums to liven me up. At the same time, I will have a few almost completed canvases hanging on my walls, waiting for that final inspirational spark so that I can complete them.


Rock Pool #3. Acrylic. Artist Dianne McNaughton

Rock Pool #3. Acrylic.


Sea & Sky Series #9. ipad. Artist Dianne McNaughton

Sea & Sky Series #9. ipad.


How can our readers find and purchase your work?

I have a website that I frequently update, please see my work -

If you are interested in any of the works, please send me a message via the “Contact me” box.


Spring daffodils. Watercolour. Artist Dianne McNaughton

Spring daffodils. Watercolour.


Sunrise beach. ipad. Artist Dianne McNaughton

Sunrise beach. ipad.


Would you like to share anything else with us?

I visited David Hockney’s exhibition, A Bigger Picture, at the Royal Academy in London in 2012 and was fascinated by his iPad paintings that had been enlarged and printed onto 5ft canvases. Having recently acquired an iPad, I was inspired to see if I could create images using this medium. I have found that the iPad is an amazing alternative to the sketchbook, I love that I have at my disposal a full range of colour and tools immediately accessible in a very light and portable mobile studio. On a 19-day boat trip around the west coast of Africa, I created a variety of images of the “Sea and sky” in the early morning light on the days that we were at sea.

I have tried quite a few painting applications, I started with Art Set, a very simple program to use, but found it has a limited colour range and have now moved on to Art Rage, a slightly more complicated program with an amazing range of colour and tools.


The surge. Acrylic. Artist Dianne McNaughton

The surge. Acrylic.


Yesterday, today, & tomorrow. Ink and watercolour. Artist Dianne McNaughton

Yesterday, today, & tomorrow. Ink and watercolour.






Kim Rodeffer Funk is the Art Editor for Wandering Educators. She notes, "I am an abstract painter and have enjoyed living a creative life for many years.  In 2012, I co-founded Atelier 325 with Andrea Hupke de Palacio, and today show my art in Europe and the United States."

You can find her at




All photos courtesy and copyright Dianne McNaughton