By Cindy Gardner
Born and raised in The Dalles, Oregon, Diane Colcord upon graduating from high school, headed to University of Oregon in Eugene, “because at the time, Oregon was considered the best art school in the state.” She finished with a B.S. in Art Education although she didn’t ever teach a day with her teaching credential! Along the way, before she graduated, someone suggested a summer job with Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and that was all it took for Diane to turn her opportunity into her career of 28 years with the federal agency-working five years at the Portland Service Center, five years at the Denver Federal Center in Colorado, and the remaining eighteen in Reno, NV.
“At first they didn’t know what to do with me,” Diane quipped, “so they had to figure out how to use me.” At that time there was only one other person in Washington D.C. who did art work. All work was in black and white and could be from anything to do with public lands, including range management, wildlife, wild horses and burros, mining, lands and records or law enforcement. So Diane began drawing wildlife pieces needed for different projects. Because not every state could afford to have a skilled artist, Diane had eleven western states that looked to her for her artistic abilities. All of her work was “on the job training” and largely in black and white. Special permission was required at that time for anything in color.
Hanging proudly in Diane’s home right along with her wildlife pieces created over her career, is a brightly painted tree---her first masterpiece when she was only five years old. Truly, a natural from the beginning but probably encouraged by her artistic mother as well who had a kiln in their home and made dishes, mugs and other art pieces. She mixed her own clay and allowed Diane to make her own pottery items as well. Diane said her mother was an expert seamstress, embroidered beautifully and was herself a natural artist.
In 1995,after twenty eight years with BLM, Diane retired to The Dalles to help her aging mother, and then decided to move with her mother back to Tillamook because of the moderate climate. It was a homecoming of sorts as Diane’s mom had been born and raised in Tillamook. “Grandpa had built a house as a wedding present for Grandma, on 1207 West Fourth in downtown Tillamook in 1914.” Several years ago, her friend Margaret Winslow encouraged Diane to get her artwork in front of the public-specifically Margaret encouraged her to enter her pieces in the Tillamook County Fair. She finally did in 2017, and she won awards on all of her entries. After that experience, she sought out Art Accelerated and found a home for her work to be on display and for sale to view at the Gallery on 1906 Third Street in downtown Tillamook.
Always interested in what inspires artists, I asked Diane, “What inspires you?” Diane said she likes to “try something out just to see what happens.” She thought back to advice her high school art teacher gave her, who always encouraged her to “try things to experiment!” Right now, Diane is contemplating a watercolor or an oil painting possibly of a friend’s cute little granddaughter.
Art isn’t Diane’s only passion. Diane is the ultimate volunteer in our community volunteering her artistic abilities whether newsletters, brochures, posters or serving on committees and boards. She serves or has served on Master Recyclers, Pioneer Museum, the Historical Society, Latimer Quilt Center, Old St. Peters Landmark (The Dalles) and the local Democrat Committee where she helped create the prize-winning backdrop at the Democrat booth at the Fair this summer. She was pleased that the backdrop made people feel happy.
Currently, Diane’s work (original pieces as well as cards) can be viewed and purchased at the Art Accelerated Gallery at 1906 Third Street during the hours of Thursday and Friday from noon to 5PM and Saturday from noon to 4PM or by special appointment.