Diane Ziemski of Hernando Beach was looking for a fun hobby that would carry her through her retirement from the teaching profession. She thought she'd try watercolor art.
"I wanted to be able to paint portraits of my grandchildren, and I didn't even have grandchildren yet,” she said. Her hobby earned her a Hernando County Art in the Park top ten honor last year, and the acceptance of a painting into the 2020 Florida Watercolor Society online exhibit. Her painting "Yellow Rose after Texas" was juried into several exhibits and was chosen to be among the featured paintings in "SPLASH 11, the Best of Watercolor, New Directions,” an internationally published book. And Watercolor USA, in Springfield, MO, accepted her painting "Primary Jiggles" in their 50th-anniversary exhibition.
And as a particular honor for this Arkansas native, her painting "Helena Blues" was chosen to be included in the 2008 Arkansas Governors Mansion Calendar.
Yet while she has painted her way across three states and counted pets, children, and musicians among her subjects, her muse can, more often than not, be discovered in her own home. "My husband and I moved here two years ago, Hernando Beach so inspires me," said Ziemski. That much is evident by a single look at Ziemski's website, which reveals colorful, detailed watercolor renderings of dolphins and crabs, herons and palm trees, seahorses and sailboats, hibiscus flowers, and sandy scenes. "I love doing beach art," she said.
And in Ziemski's view, watercolor is the perfect medium to capture the radiance and tropical splendor of Hernando Beach. "Watercolors have a mind of their own. A life of their own. I like the transparency and the bright colors,” she said.
There is in fact, only one thing that Ziemski likes better than creating art. "I like to give my art away," she said. Ziemski balances her artistic spirit with a strong sense of philanthropy, and she recently donated a watercolor to a silent auction to benefit the Veterans HEAT Factory in Hernando. "Watercolors are soothing, and this is exactly what veterans need,” she said.
She also has donated her watercolor originals to benefits hosted by Hernando Beach Property Owners Association, The Humane Society, and The Rotary Club.
Ziemski also sells her art, through an online store found on her website. And once global conditions improve, she hopes to teach art publicly, to veterans in the form of art therapy, to aspiring artists, to her own grandchildren whose portraits she has painted as well.
"It's coming back full circle. I'm going back to teaching. I want to teach art. And I want to keep making art,” she said.