Diane Reed Sawyer

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Note from the pandemic—
My art has always been a refuge for me in difficult times. But as the pandemic took hold last spring, it didn’t feel right to continue with my usual practice. Along with the tragedy, upheaval, and loss that engulfed us, the lockdown created an opportunity—a place of stillness and quiet. I had been wanting to explore other materials, and chose to take a leap and learn about oil and cold-wax. It has been liberating to be out of my comfort zone. Working with oil and cold-wax I am immersed by the process— layering and scraping back, experimenting with texture and color, and reworking until something begins to emerge. Sometimes it feels like the painting and I are in conversation. Well into the process, I begin to get a sense of where the painting is going. Painting abstractly and intuitively this way, I notice how often the events and emotions of the pandemic are surfacing in these new pieces.

Along with 5 other artists in the mill, we have mounted an online show: IMPROMPTU, to share some of the work we have produced during this difficult period. The online exhibition is available at eclipsegalleryonline.com/impromptu

Artist Statement

Although I have worked in a variety of media, I am best known for my work in soft pastel. I began working with pastel about 10 years ago and love their intensity and luminosity. I enjoy experimenting and pushing the medium to see how far it can go—working on hand-made surfaces, and combining pastels with charcoal, oil, acrylic, and other media.

My recent ‘Aerial Series’ is inspired by the view of the earth from above, typically the window of a commercial flight. During a night flight patterns of light illuminate the world below us, tracing an intricate web of connection stretching into the distance. Some of what we see is identifiable but much is ambiguous, hidden, and imagined.

These aerial images resonate with me on many levels. As I explore this series further I have become interested in the parallel between this selectively illuminated world and current political rhetoric—glorifying power, exploitation, and rampant consumption. Hidden behind the bright lights is a more complex reality. What is the impact of these values on our lives and the increasingly fragile world we live in?

I enjoy working on this series, decoding what I can, but leaving levels of ambiguity to explore. I offer the viewer an invitation to investigate the space between what is known and unknown, being curious about what is, and imagining what could be.

My Aerial Series is featured in an article in Pastel Journal’s December 2018 Issue.


Bachelor of Fine Arts, Boston Museum School in association with Tufts University
Additional coursework: Bennington College, MassArt, Boston Museum School

I have studied with numerous nationally– and internationally-known artists including Jeanne Rosier Smith, Liz Haywood Sullivan, Michele Poirier Mozzone, Aline Ordman, Tony Alain, Margaret McWethy, John Redmond, Tim Hawkesworth and Lala Zeitlyn, Rebbeca Crowell and Jerry MacLaughlin


I offer workshops and classes in pastel, teaching both pleinair and in the studio.


Signature Member: Pastel Society of America (PSA)
Signature member: Pastel Society of Cape Cod (PPSCC)


Real Eyes Gallery, Adams, MA
Francesca Anderson Fine Arts, Lexington, MA


Connecticut Pastel Society (CPS), Renaissance in Pastels, Great American Pastels Award, November 2020

Pastel Society of America (PSA), Enduring Brilliance, Salmagundi Award, September 2019

Pastel Society of Cape Cod (PPSCC), For Pastel’s Only, Liz Haywood-Sullivan Award, July 2019

Connecticut Pastel Society (CPS), Renaissance in Pastels, Pastel Society of America Award, November 2018

Pastel Society of Cape Cod (PPSCC), For Pastel’s Only, Dakota Art Pastels Award, June 2018

South Shore Arts Center (SSAC), Summer Arts Festival 2017, Second Place, Drawing and Pastels, June 2017

SSAC, Entryways, National Juried Show, Third Place, January 2017

PPSCC, Member Show, Second Place, October 2016

CPS, Purely Pastel, Bronze Award for Excellence, June 2016

UArt 2015 National Online Juried Competition, Best in Show, August 2015

CPS, Renaissance in Pastels, Judith Walo Memorial Award, October 2015

Diane at the installation of the show
Parallels and Intersections at the
Sprinkler Factory Gallery in the fall of 2019.



Contact Information

Mailing Address

243 Union Street
Loft 305
North Adams, MA 01247