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Interview with an artist: Sam Dietze
March 27, 2008 - Emily Dimov-Gottshall
One of the pleasures of writing an art blog is the opportunity to meet with local artists. Recently I was introduced to Sam Dietze, who paints incredible semi-realistic/impressionistic paintings of constellations, galaxies and stars. His work has been viewed in many exhibitions. Sam has an on-line gallery and is currently displaying several pieces in a group art show at the library with Art in Common. He is a member of IAAA: International Association of Astronomical Artists, and Starlight Astronomy Club Web Site.
The IAAA was founded in 1982 by a small group of artists who journeyed through the fascinating but seldom trod territory where science and art overlap. A concept which Sam seems to have captured successfully in his art.
I asked Sam a few questions and got to know more about his style of work, what inspires him and how creating these paintings became a passion for him.
EDG: When and how did you first become interested in art? How long have you been painting?
Dietze: I guess I was about 10. I became interested in astronomy and started coloring and drawing pictures of constellations, stars and planets using crayons and colored pencils. I've been creating artwork off and on for many years as a hobby through the 1970s and 80s, but more seriously since about 1990.
EDG: What are your art influences?
Dietze: Astronomy books and magazines and star gazing for the space paintings. Trees, clouds, sunsets, animals, and observing nature for the landscapes. I don't really rely much on other artists or books. I'd rather go and do my own thing.
EDG: What else do you do besides paint?
Dietze: That's pretty much it. Astronomy and art are my life, although I enjoy the outdoors, walking and bicycling. I joined the
EDG: Why did you decide to create paintings with galaxies and landscapes?
Dietze: It isn't just galaxies and landscapes. It's also planets, nebulae, night scenes, comets, the moon, aurora, sunsets, trees, the interaction of buildings with landscapes, setting up in an alley somewhere to do a painting, going off on a bike ride and doing a painting in the country....I get into all of that.
EDG: What do you think your paintings are trying to convey?
Dietze: I'm trying to be expressive in a way that might not be quite realistic or photographic but it still conveys a sense of realism. It's like trying to develop a unique style which says something about me and the way I see nature, the universe, something that I can say that's unique to me so that whoever looks at it knows and recognizes it as mine. Am I going on a bit here?
EDG: Do you have a special painting?
Dietze: I have a couple favorites, but they're not necessarily what other people like. I'm always surprised by what other people like. I've entered exhibits and submitted what I thought was my best work and spent time and money packing and shipping out what I thought were great paintings, large paintings and having them rejected. And then other times I've dropped 8x10s, unframed, that took a couple hours to create, into envelopes
and pay the $2 postage and not only do they get in but they win an award or are sold. So, go figure.
EDG: What makes this kind of painting "good" to you?
Dietze: Just a feeling. You paint until you think it's as good as you can make it, and if you go any further you'll detract from it. It's often difficult to decide if a painting you're working on is finished or not. An artist once emailed me that a painting is never finished, only abandoned. And another said once that art is everywhere, you just have to see it. So at some point you decide that it's finished and it's time to put it in the show.
Whitaker Center exhibit in Harrisburg, Pa 2007
EDG: Why did you choose to create paintings in this style?
Dietze: I've been creating paintings in this style for much of my life. But it's a dynamic process, and you're always learning and adding to your style. For me the terrestrial landscape paintings influence the space art and vice-versa. Drawing and sketching come into play also. You can carry a sketch pad and pencils with you wherever you go and always come up with new ideas for paintings, far more than you will ever have the time or talent to turn into a finished piece of artwork. You don't always have to be painting.
Personally, I find Sam's work has that lovely feeling of consistency found in an artist who is fine-tuned to their style and subject. His work is both interesting in its background as well as the balance of color and subject matter. You can view more of Mr. Dietze's work at http://www.pbase.com/astronaturearts or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.