Dinah Cross James
Dinah Cross James has been considered to have a
"good sense of expressing the subconscious." That is, many of her
painted images are generated by allowing her intuitive powers to
surface. She relies on spontaneity to create many of her images.
Dinah's love of travel has also been a source of
many diverse images in her work. She has traveled extensively in Europe,
the Middle East, Africa, South America and Mexico. A painting series
resulted from a fascination with Mayan, Aztec and Incan ruins and
geography. Dinah's travels to Africa stimulated her interest in Bone
imagery. She did a series of Elephant, cape buffalo and hippo skulls.
Several of her travels have taken her to
places of geological phenomena. These include the Grand Canyon, Bhutan,
Machu Picchu and Mt. St. Helens during the volcanic eruptions in 1980.
"Mt. St. Helens during its eruptive state
was Magnificent," says Dinah. I was drawn there because of the raw
creative energy taking place in the earthly upheaval. The experience of
being inside the crater manifested the essence of creativity involving
landslides, fumeroles, earthquakes and sudden explosive movement. The
constant change in form and color inspired her work for years.
A graduate of Mills College, for over 30 years
Dinah's work is admired throughout the country in galleries, public and
private collections, national magazine covers, and books (see resume).
In the early stages of her career she was a fashion illustrator in
Oregon and has produced illustrations for Reader's Digest, Sunset
Magazine and children's books. As can be seen from above Dinah's travels
and life experiences have stimulated a diverse body of work. Her series
of paintings include: Mt. St. Helens, Grand Canyon, Raggedy Ann, Light
Energy, Mayan and Inca Ruins, Animal Skulls, Bird, and most recently the
Flower series. She is energized by working in different techniques and
uses oil, monotype, watercolor, drawing and acrylic.
Although the majority of Dinah's work is
abstract, a continuous theme of her painting life has been country
landscapes where she again uses her love of movement and color.
The inspiration of Dinah's paintings has not
always derived from pleasant experiences. Some, in detail and vast
expansions of color, depict a time of intense sadness. In 1990, Dinah
lost her only child, Natalia (Tali) in a Berkeley fire. She was a
sophomore at U. C. Berkeley. This grievous period of her life, Dinah
says, was underwritten in several of her paintings. To learn more about
this period of Dinah's life she suggests you read, When Life
Changes Or You Wish It Would by Carol Adrianne. The final
chapter recaps Dinah's bereavement. Dinah began her Raggedy Ann
series during Tali's teen years. The sequence is a portrayal of Tali's
independent spirit and casts Raggedy Ann being blown down dark roads and
flying in red and black skies. Nine months prior to Tali's death Dinah
began a series of birds, symbolizing her daughter. "The meaning of birds
is spiritual freedom," explains Dinah. "Tali was free."
Within one month after the loss of Tali,
Dinah was back in her studio. Her paintings changed from the dark earth
tones she'd been using nine years previous to the loss of Tali. Dinah
began to fill her palette with pinks, bright yellows, greens and
turquoise hues, and, painting a series of birds, which, of course, is
An accomplished pianist, avid tennis player,
and art instructor, Dinah says that solitude is very important to her.
She loves to take long hikes, and uses this precious time for developing
new ideas. One point she likes to ring into her student's ears is to
take a form and change it into as many shapes as they can…a method,
characteristic of the Dinah Cross James style.
Now residing in Napa Valley, California,
Dinah continues to explore her inner world of abstract imagery which
often is inspired by travel. Peru, Mexico, Africa (I spent a month
flying through six countries in David Allan's private plane). Trips to
Bhutan, China, Tibet, Cambodia, Turkey and most recently my second trip
Currently I am using my art books on Indian
Minature Painting: transposing images from them into large abstracts.
Also important to the recent painting are two important books: "Freedom
At Midnight" and "The Last Mughal". All of this is giving me the
opportunity to express my love of color, movement, texture and space.
Dinah Cross James