"I have always loved art, but never had time, or any lessons, to pursue it," Diane Reinhart said.
Then came her husband's retirement from being a court reporter and hers from teaching. For this couple from North Olmsted, moving to a cottage on the river in Wakeman opened up a new world. Diane saw an ad for art lessons in watercolor to be given through the Lorain Metroparks in 1996. She never looked back. "The more I painted, the more I learned about painting, the more I loved it,” she said.
Before she retired she taught art as part of her job with youngsters, although there was never much focus on it because of all the other subjects required in the primary grades. "I was always an artist at heart but it just blossomed when we retired."
She met Bob Moyer at Bay Arts, a well known area watercolorist who, as a mentor, gave her the best advice on learning how to paint — advice she now passes on to all her current students. “Join as many art groups as you can,” she said. “I'm at my limit right now. I don't have any more days left in the week." She joined the Erie Shore Art League, then Firelands Area Art League, Vermilion Art Guild, Westlake Community Center and West Shore Watercolor Society. She began lessons with Cathy Welner in Akron where Welner was teaching the class.
When her husband died four years ago, Reinhart really got fully involved. "I did workshops and met so many wonderful people each place, it changed my life. It seems like my life would be empty without my friends in art. My whole life has changed. Being in groups you learn all the different avenues and how to improve."
As she improved over time her teacher at Westlake Community Center left for New Orleans and asked Reinhart to take over. "So, I've been doing that for several years. The hardest part of that is finding something new to paint every week. I try to get them involved in alternatives to water color such as experimenting with alcohol ink on yupo paper, a new plastic-like substance, or painting on slate, gourds, wood."
This job also includes hanging her students' art work in the latest show. She has almost finished the hanging for the Porter show, the Westlake library, except for re-framing one of the pieces.
She is framing her own work which will be entered in the 43rd annual Firelands Area Art League show in the Ernsthausen Performing Arts Center at Norwalk High School Saturday and Sunday. The show runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.
"I have so many shows this spring that my house is looking more like a studio,” she said. “I'm at my limit. Everyday is filled with something. I do workshops, too. Just finished two for the Huron Library. I also do a show in Bath, Ohio, and a big one in Lakeside each year, as well as the Sandusky Art Walk the first Thursday on each month of summer. Through the Vermilion Farm Market we artists set up a big tent and have showings. We do several at Mon Ami. Summers get filled up fast. You meet people, amazing people, the nicest people in the world. It expands my outlook on life."
Reinhart said she and her husband used to go to auctions. ''I still love to go and get ideas for paintings and to buy frames." She reflects that "as an artist down the road, you look at everything as future art work." Through practice and versatility she is expanding her outlook. She loves art books and has a huge collection that she uses to find new ideas. As a teacher she begins painting as a demonstration for her students, but she may not finish it by end of the lesson. "I look at it later, change it. Next week it is something different."
Her advice to beginners is "Paint, paint, paint. Don't give up. You're going to get better. Paint every day and it will develop into your own style that will be recognizable as yours. Every teacher offers new insights, even how to sell and present your work. I go to an oil painting class just to have time to paint with people for three hours. There are classes in how to prepare your work for show, how to make cards from your paintings on computer."
She said she may have to give a class on how to correctly frame a painting.
"I'm almost 100 percent involved in art. It is a different stage of my life now, but it's never ending — there's always something new and new people to meet."
Reinhart encourages everyone to find their own style if they ever dreamed of being an artist.