Friday, December 28, 2012


"The working process and existence merge and there is no separation between life and work and the ultimate natural force of existence."  ~ Max Cole

Cosmos, oil on canvas, 32x32 inches, in progress

This is my latest painting, Cosmos, in progress.  My process begins with a heavily worked underpainting, a detail shown below:

Detail of Cosmos, work in progress

After I am satisfied with the underpainting, I begin to add titanium white oil paint over the prepared underpainting, using a dry brush technique.  I start from the upper left and continue until I reach the last block of the grid on the lower right.

 Detail of Cosmos, in progress

Although this process is extremely labor-intensive, I enjoy the meditative quality of my actions, and hope that the stillness and quiet of the white grid can soothe and calm the viewer as much as it does for me.  As winter descends on us here in the Sangre de Cristo mountains near Santa Fe, I am reminded of the purity of snow falling, steadily covering everything with a soft veil of white.

Sunday, November 4, 2012


Let the waters settle
you will see stars and moon
mirrored in your Being. 
~ Rumi

 Field 1, oil on canvas, 16 x 16 inches, © 2012 Diane McGregor

 Field 2, oil on canvas, 16 x 16 inches, © 2012 Diane McGregor

In their quiet way, these grid paintings honor the mathematical perfection of the square. Squares within squares. Being obviously hand-made, however, they also honor nature. Human efforts to divide nature into perfect grids -- orchards, farms, cities, maps -- is an attempt to balance imperfection with perfection.  It's a conversation we have always had with nature. For me, using the grid brings me comfort and peace -- the practice of painting grids, however imperfectly, gives me a sense of balance and serenity, as I honor my own desires for perfection while recognizing the beauty of imperfection. The purity of the square, in particular, inspires me to simply be calm and methodical, to keep adding, one by one, each solemn square. These paintings emerge with a hushed, silent grace. I allow them just to be: simple, frank, humble, and welcoming contemplation.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Reflection and Perception

Matrix, oil on canvas, 48 x 48 inches, © 2012 Diane McGregor

The last two paintings I've completed -- this one, Matrix, and the one from an earlier post, Sunyata (Emptiness) -- have been very difficult and labor-intensive projects. I've decided that from now on, the grid paintings need to stay in a small format -- I'm figuring no larger than 24 inches square. 

Although there is an encompassing shimmer that is lovely to behold in this larger work, I faced some tough challenges that I didn't expect when I decided to increase the scale of my grid paintings.  When painting the smaller format grids, the whole painting can easily be "unified," a quality I strive for so that no part of the composition weighs more heavily than another part.  Working large, this is an almost impossible feat, and requires hours and hours of just staring at the painting.  To find the right rhythm and balance is an arduous and not very pleasant task when confronted with a large arena like these four foot canvases.  The extreme sensitivity it takes to make the decisions is psychologically and visually exhausting. 

Part of the reason why I love painting grids is the freedom from decisions.  Because I am using a "ready-made" compositional device -- the grid -- the parameters and rules are set up before beginning the work.  My only decisions (after choosing the color palette) then become confined to each rectangle of the grid -- tiny decisions which eventually accumulate into one harmonious and subtly balanced image.

My plans for more ambitious work now involve using series of panels that would make up a larger whole, an idea that will make each smaller panel part of a larger, more dynamic image.  The arrangement of smaller, square canvases will also emphasize the conceptual use of the grid as a compositional schema.


Saturday, August 4, 2012

ART Santa Fe

 Installation at ART Santa Fe 2012. From left: Dara Mark, Janice Wall, Diane McGregor, Paula Roland.

 Installation at ART Santa Fe 2012. From left: Diane McGregor, Paula Roland, Danielle Shelley, Shaun Gilmore.

Last month, the Lady Minimalists Tea Society artist collective exhibited at the international art fair, ART Santa Fe. This was the debut exhibition for our group. Six other women artists and I belong to the collective, and we meet once a month to talk about our work and discuss exhibition opportunities.  It's a great group of women, and we all respect and admire each others' work. Minimalism functions as a conceptual and aesthetic starting point for some in the group and as a point of reaction for others. Each artist has adapted the minimalist aesthetic differently, yet we retain a shared sense of pared down processes, materials and/or color.  Our booth at ART Santa Fe was very well received, and we got a lot of exposure and critical interest. I am very proud to show with this group of extraordinary women: Shaun Gilmore, Dara Mark, Paula Roland, Danielle Shelley, Signe Stuart, and Janice Wall. For more information about our group, please visit

Saturday, July 7, 2012


Sunyata (Emptiness), oil on canvas, 48x48 inches, © 2012 Diane McGregor

Rain Light by W.S. Merwin

All day the stars watch from long ago
my mother said I am going now
when you are alone you will be all right
whether or not you know you will know
look at the old house in the dawn rain
all the flowers are forms of water
the sun reminds them through a white cloud
touches the patchwork spread on the hill
the washed colors of the afterlife
that lived there long before you were born
see how they wake without a question
even though the whole world is burning

My Mother passed away a few months ago. Since then there has been a huge void in my life. Mom had been ill, but not in any immediate danger, so her passing was sudden and shocking. This is my first experience of losing someone so close to me. The concepts of life, death, and afterlife are forward in my mind.

This painting helped me cope. The daily labor of completing each white rectangle, over and over, like a chant to the Infinite, gave me structure and purpose as I waded through the grief and loss. It's my most minimal piece yet.  The underpainting was lively violet, green, brown, and dark gray -- all that is left now is the white, with a hint of violet showing through in the lines that form the grid. Like snow, the purity of white symbolizes the intermediary between the spirit world and the human reality. White is silent and gentle, like snow falling; like arcane knowledge being transmitted through the ether, divine energy flows to us from a higher spiritual plane.