Anderson Artists Guild President Diana Gilham really wanted to go to art school in the 1970s. “But I thought I wouldn’t be able to make a living doing that and chickened out,” she said. Instead, she attended Columbus Business University in Ohio, where she grew up, then devoted herself to a secretarial career before staying home to raise her children, followed by a position at a veterinary office. “It was not my passion, but I was good at it,” she said.
But once she retired, she painted—just like her father and another ancestor did after they stopped working. “My great-great-grandfather was a Civil War veteran who painted in retirement,” she said. “One of his paintings previously hung in the Library of Congress and now hangs in a West Virginia state park.”
She has tried many mediums. She is particularly drawn to oils for the landscapes she favors and describes her style as “somewhere between realism and abstract. I don’t want it to be picture perfect.” She also works in acrylic and alcohol ink, and more and more she creates collages. “I like texture, putting things together with pieces,” she said.
She often works from photos and finds that it is local scenes that sell best. She especially enjoyed a recent plein air experience in Edisto. “It was fun and exciting to be able to capture light as it was happening,” she said. “It was a very different painting experience.”
In South Carolina since 1981, when her husband was transferred here, she is starting her third year as the AAG president (her daughter previously served as vice president). One of her goals has been to increase membership, and whatever she’s doing is working. Just two years ago membership was at 72; it’s now at 110.