Realism has always left Diana Young feeling cold. What stirs her imagination is the abstract works of Picasso, Matisse and Seagal.
Young’s art plays on exaggerated perspectives meant to capture a place’s essence through motion and color, rather than a one-to-one representation. “It’s not impressionist, not expressionist, not depressionist,” said Young. “It's just what comes out of me.”
Young chafed under the artistic education she received growing up, which focused on drawing figures based on Greek and Roman statues. She would often be corrected by her teacher for flattening the image by making her outlines too dark. This created a pattern look rather than a three-dimensional one. “Right away, I knew (the teacher) was wrong. As far as I was concerned, I didn't care what the other people were doing.”
Young focused on patterns during her time at Rhode Island School of Design, where she graduated in 1957. Classes she recently took at University of Maine inspired the use of more dynamic figures to capture motion in her art.
Young prefers to draw quickly and not get bogged down with accuracy. When she was 15, Young taught herself perspective during a trip to France with her mother, Jane Kellogg Corbin.
Corbin wasn’t a fan of small children and was too impatient for them, but as Young grew older her relationship with her mother developed into a friendship. Corbin became a constant supporter of her daughter’s art. During the trip, Corbin bought a sketchbook and told Young to keep a catalog of the places she wanted to draw after they finished sightseeing.
“(French buildings) have wonderful discrepancies and leanings and curves in them. So it was an absolute blast,” recalled Young. “I think that one of the most important things that happened to me in my life was drawing those buildings.”
Young still goes out to sketch. This is usually done from the comfort of her car, which necessitates pushing the driver’s seat all the way back to fit the large paper pad in her lap.
“There's two things that seem to grab my attention (when I’m out). The first one is, if the thing has some kind of incongruity and it makes me laugh. The second thing is, is there a diagonal in it? Diagonals on a flat surface make much more motion than a horizontal line.” A recent incongruity Young enjoyed was found in the lemon yellow Buddha statues in her neighbor’s backyard. Amidst the muted colors of early spring, the statues were beacons decorated with bright plastic flowers and lanterns. “It just tickled the hell out of me. Here's mud season in dear old Maine and here are these guys lightening it up.”
Young is originally from New Haven, Connecticut. She moved to Maine in 1967 with her now late husband, James Young. The two met in college and got married during Young’s senior year. They eventually settled in Bangor, and Young has lived there ever since. She also maintains a small residence in Eastport.
Young’s work is currently on display at Boothbay Region Art Foundation. She also has a one-man show in Eastport Gallery until Aug. 30.