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Winsted artist’s world is a rainbow of color and design

June 30, 2008

By Linda Scherer
Staff Writer

With a natural gift for color and design, and an endless number of creative ways to use it, Winsted artist Dianne Mahoney’s days are full of activity.

“The ideas just keep coming. I can’t imagine being bored. There are so many things to do in life. I will have to live to be 200 to get all of my things done,” Mahoney said.

Although she has won awards for her watercolor paintings, that particular expertise has been set aside while she is currently spending her time writing two books; designing greeting cards, gift tags and boxes, and wrapping paper; designing and making jewelry; and writing poetry.

Her first book titled “Gorgeous Greetings and Gifts” is almost complete. It will feature a wide range of her original artwork she calls Dianne’s Designs.

The textbook style will feature a section at the beginning of the book that will reference all kinds of materials that Mahoney uses for her artwork.

“Materials could be the entire book because there is so much out there,” Mahoney said.

Saving money utilizing recyclable items she finds around her home has become part of the appeal that has drawn Mahoney to her latest forms of art.

“I always buy the best art materials, but I like to invent new ways to express beauty without spending a lot of money,” Mahoney said.

Even her family is aware of Mahoney’s recycling tendencies.

“My kids know they are to unwrap their gifts carefully because the paper gets used again.”

Besides wrapping paper, some other supplies she has found to be useful are cereal boxes, a good source of cardboard for jewelry she makes; aluminum cans can be cut out for decoration; and mesh fruit bags may be used to make a background design for a particular watercolor technique.

The book is to include all different samples of her cards, wrapping paper, gift tags, napkin holders, and jewelry plus instructions on how to make each item.

Last year she made a total of 2,000 greeting cards. She may reuse some of her card designs for other projects.

Once she has completed a card, she has found it helpful to put the directions for making the card on the computer for future reference.

“So then when I think, ‘how did I do that card?’ it is on my computer,” Mahoney said.

Each of her greeting cards are very different. Some are made with ink, others watercolor. She might sprinkle the card with embossing powder, spritz it with alcohol before dropping ink onto it, use a stencil and spritz powdered water, or she might sprinkle the card with salt.

There are materials she might add when the card is still wet, or wait until the card is totally dry before putting it on.

Some of Dianne’s Designs have already been published in the magazine “Stampers Sampler” which includes a two page article on her work.

“So one day I go to the mail box and pull out my “Stamper’s Sampler” magazine, and they had my card on the cover. You can’t imagine what a thrill it is to open your mailbox and see your card on the cover of a magazine,” Mahoney said.

Mahoney’s unique jewelry is made from different kinds of cardboard and other items found in her home.

She could possibly make a necklace from yarn, a leatherette chord, or ribbon.

A bracelet could be made from the leftover cardboard from a roll of tape.

Her gift boxes can be very ornate like the one she painted black and then outlined flower petals and leaves in gold. She painted the flower petals in shades of purple and lavenders and the leaves in different shades of green. Finally she added a gold heavy upholstery cord around the bottom of the lid.

“Spectacular” was the word Mahoney used to describe this particular gift box when it was finished.

In addition to her designs, she likes to write poetry and will sometimes include some verse in her greeting cards.

“Some people say a card is just a card, but to me a card says something that we find hard to put into words,” Mahoney said.

“I won awards for my watercolors and I keep thinking I should be doing more serious painting, but cards are instant gratification,” Mahoney said. “Maybe it might take me a whole day to design a new card, but it is faster than a watercolor. I had an idea and I brought it to fruition. If it doesn’t turn out, I learned something that won’t work but maybe I can use it in a different way.”

Mahoney enjoys designing cards but does not want to become a card manufacturer. She will do occasional special orders and has been thinking about possibly selling note cards that people might like to buy and give as a gift.

Her “card ministry” is what she uses many of her cards for.

“If I read in the Herald Journal that someone I know has done something or won an award, I like to send them a card to congratulate them and affirm that person. That is what I want my cards to do,” Mahoney said.

Her autobiography is in the works

Every day is eventful in the life of Mahoney.

“I think, what should I do today? Should I write? Should I paint? Should I make cards?”

And when the time suits her, besides finishing up her textbook on her artwork, or writing poetry, she is also writing a book about her life.

Just like her cards, which she wants to be “uplifting,” Mahoney’s autobiography will be inspiring, too.

She is a graduate of the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph, where she majored in music.

She has always loved art, but had never attempted painting until 1960 when her oldest daughter was just a baby.

That first year she tried oil painting, which she discovered was too much work to set up and clean up.

She had always wanted to try watercolors, but it wasn’t until 2002 when she was in a nursing home and learned she was going to be in a wheelchair the rest of her life that she decided it was time to paint.

“I thought, ‘I don’t have any excuses. I have nothing but time.’ So I bought some watercolors and just started, and really taught myself,” Mahoney said.

Sure to be included in her book about her life will be her six children and her 12 grandchildren who she often talks about.

Her children are:

• Mary Beth, married to J.P. Kumar. They live in Peoria, Ill. and have one son, Elliott, who is 16.

• Michael who is married to Maureen. They live in Hamburg with their seven children: Meghan, 22; Ryan, 19; Becca, 16; Willie, 14; Victoria, 8; Stasia, 6; and Joel, 4.

• Colleen is single and lives in Minneapolis.

• Patrick lives in Minneapolis with a daughter, McKenzie, 23.

• Sean is married to Ashley and lives in Golden Valley. They have three children Joshua, 5; Kate, 3; and Laura, 1.

• Jenny, her youngest daughter, died when she was 15.

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