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Diann Simms Has a Distinctive Viewpoint

Diann Simms was born in Texas where her father was stationed with the Army Air Force prior to his going overseas during World War II. After the war she and her parents moved to Atlanta where her father was a pilot for Delta Airlines. Later the family moved to Detroit, Michigan, where her father became the chief pilot for Ford Motor Company and Henry Ford II’s personal pilot. This afforded interesting travel experiences and connections for the whole family. Her interest in art was formed in the Michigan schools. There was a strong elementary school arts program, with students making paper and books, drawing, experimenting with clay and other mediums, igniting a lifelong passion for art. When Simms was 11, the family moved to Hickory, North Carolina. After high school graduation she attended the University of South Carolina, where a life-long love of the Palmetto State quickly developed.

She remained in Columbia to raise a family until 1985 when she took a public relations, marketing and advertising position at Medicus, where she eventually became the Associate Administrator. Simms “retired” after 29 years but was called back to work at AnMed Health Medicus Surgery Center as needed. She also has a specialty graphic design business in her studio. Recent projects have included a 250-plus sign project for the Heritage Quilt Trail and various projects for the City of Anderson Economic Development.

While still living in Columbia, Simms started painting with oils. “That didn’t last long,” she said. “The oil paint and the turpentine didn’t work well with my allergies, so I turned to acrylics.” After moving to Anderson she took watercolor lessons and with that found her niche. “I like the way the paint and the water play on the paper while you shepherd them into what you want them to be,” she said. “There are so many things you can do with watercolor if you are open to new ideas, experimentation and are patient. There is always something new to learn.”

Her style is traditional, but her viewpoint and subject matter are distinctive. “I like to draw with pen and ink first and then put the water and the colors together,” she said. “Because I use photographs for reference, I always think of what my eventual painting will look like before I take that shot. Consequently, when I get into the studio a good bit of the ‘thinking’ and framing of the subject has been done. Cell phone photography has turned into a real time and money saver. I like little nooks and crannies and always try for a ‘different’ point of view. I have been extremely fortunate to have been commissioned to create ‘house portraits’ for several clients which I love to do.”

Her art has also provided a gateway for community service. In addition to having served as president of the Anderson Artists Guild and the Anderson Arts Center Board of Directors, she is a creative consultant for several City of Anderson projects. Simms was also on the creative committee for the Church Street Heritage Plaza. She created the graphic design for the tops of the boxes that tell stories and show photographs of the historic area while two of her watercolor paintings serve as the background. Her work can be seen in Bay3 Artisan Gallery, a local co-operative gallery, located just off the atrium in the Anderson Arts Center, where she has been a partner for over 20 years.

For more information about Simms, visit


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