Interview With Diana Stelin, Landscape Painter, Educator, and Designer

Diana Stelin is a landscape painter, educator, and designer who creates conversations between reality and abstraction. Stelin starts with plein-air watercolors and then uses a mixture of oil pigments and wax for her oil pieces that are based on those raw sketches, with real gold leaf and paper elements added in as the last layer. It’s the melting of wax, gold leaf, and paper in the top layer of her vibrant and textured works that blur the lines of her inner and outer reality, and forces the viewer to dissolve into the tapestry of her masterly woven colors.

Stelin shows her work locally and internationally, with corporate shows at Google, Novartis, Childrens’ Hospital, and Brookline City Hall, among others. Her public art project has been approved by ECC Italy for the Venice Biennale 2022. Her 2021 exhibits include a mid-career retrospective at Project B gallery in February, a ‘Seascapes’ show at AZ Fine Art in July, and a ‘Seasons’ exhibit at Brookline Public Library at Coolidge Corner in August.

Ms. Stelin runs The Plein-Air Art Academy, a Best of Boston teaching studio, and is contracted with Google for their corporate art events. She holds a Master’s degree from Boston University and a Bachelor’s from Cornell University.

During the COVID 19 pandemic, Stelin launched a new leg of her brand, Gallerista, a luxury fashion line where limited edition pieces are based on her original works of art.

Stelin also writes deeply about artmaking and its effects on our daily lives. In February of 2018, she has released her debut novel ‘Searching for a Place to Call Home’. Stelin is a contributing writer to Hyperallergic, Format Magazine, Huffington Post, Mother Nature Network, among others, and a constant guest on multiple entrepreneurial podcasts. 

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview. You serve many innovative and impressive roles as an artist. We would like to know your backstory. Were you artsy as a young child?

I was artsy as a child. I would draw fashion models on little paper napkins and my grandfather would critique them by assigning them a country of origin, as in: “This outfit could be from Nigeria. This looks like a national costume of Azerbaijan..”

Would you share some of the ways that you work as an artist?

I create paintings as commissions for individuals and corporations. I teach kids and adults. I write books and essays and get interviewed for podcasts and articles. I create garments based on my paintings and inspired by my travels.

You work with corporations to create meditative art rooms. Are these temporary or permanent art rooms? Also, how does art help to manage stress? 

It’s been statistically proven that even a 20 minute exposure to art decreases our cortisol levels (our stress hormones) by 75%. I work with corporations on a variety of programs ranging from virtual artmaking workshops to art rooms in their facilities, to talks on the importance of art for our psyche and development as fully balanced individuals.

How are employees responding to your art programs in their workplaces? Are there any impactful stories that you can share?

Employees have been loving this break in their schedules. Here are a few testimonials:

"The workshop was perfect! I ended up taking the knowledge about color and doing some playing with paint a few days after the workshop with just a bottle of blue, a bottle of yellow, and a bottle of white. It was really fun to see the different shades I could get from just two colors + white!"

​– Ashley Smith, Software Engineer at Google

"I signed up for a one hour watercolor class offered by my employer on a whim and, without reservation, it was one of the best decisions I made in 2019.

I consider myself not particularly talented when it comes to drawing and painting - even a little stiff - but from the moment I stepped into Diana's class I felt safe and open and more creative.

Diana understood that her class - attended by busy, stressed-out, rushed adults working in tech - might have been feeling a bit self-conscious and clumsy and she magically managed to put us all at ease in the first 5 minutes. She very skillfully taught us fundamental techniques, helped us better understand perspective and color, stopped by our stations and delicately helped us hold our brushes better or mix colors or simply to offer encouragement, and we each left the class with more than fairly decent watercolor paintings that we had made in under an hour. She was also funny and had a wonderful positive and encouraging energy and teaching style, so when I heard she was teaching a second class a couple of months later, I recruited two of my coworkers." 

"I have participated in Diana's presentation about "Art in Your Home" and found it both engaging and helpful in thinking about how to select art for our house as well as how to position it in the best possible way. I would highly recommend her presentation for anyone interested in learning more about art collecting and making their home more unique through art"

​– Katya Taycher, Managing Director, Product Management at Charles River Development, a State Street Company

What lessons do you believe that leaders in the workplace are learning about their employees’ wellbeing?

The main lesson being learned is that we need to utilize both sides of our brain in order to be productive, innovative, and frankly, happy at work. With our skyrocketing burnout index we need more creative solutions to brain health in the workplace, we need more ways to engage with the emotional well-being of our employees.

This was very meaningful. Thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!

You can follow Diana Stelin on her website and via social media at:





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