The Red Time by Dinah Worman; courtesy Seymour Wheelock Collection
By Devon Jackson
Dinah Worman’s paintings are as inviting as they are spacious. Expansive foregrounds and leading lines draw the viewer in, directing the eye toward a grove of trees, a farmhouse, a distant church or mountain range. Though sometimes simple in composition, Worman’s landscapes convey the full emotional impact of the scene, capturing the warm earth tones and dramatic light of the southwestern landscape. For as stark as some of her paintings might be, they rejoice in the natural world and offer a relief both aesthetic and emotional. “My reason for all that foreground space is because it’s peaceful,” says Worman, who lives and works in Taos, NM. “It leads you in and gives you the feeling of being able to breathe.”
The artist has always found a sense of solace in art. Born in Midland, TX, in 1950, Worman was just 4 years old when she was hit by a car and nearly killed. Suffering from a head injury, she could do little more than lie in bed while recuperating. So her father, knowing how much she liked to draw, built her a desk that fit over her bed. Art became her constant companion.
After the family moved to Durango, CO, where Worman and two brothers and a sister grew up, she again found refuge in art whenever she felt particularly isolated. As a teenager she often withdrew to her bedroom to spend long hours drawing. “Art became a nice partner for a child like that,” says Worman, looking back at herself. “It’s nice to have a skill to retreat into that’s not self-destructive.”
Eventually, Worman’s retreat turned into a pursuit. She churned out hundreds of drawings and paintings (many of which her mother still has) and used whatever money she earned working odd jobs to pay for classes with artists who visited Durango. She later majored in art at Colorado State University. After marrying, she and her husband, Dave, a commercial airline pilot, moved to Italy for three years, where Worman drew, painted, and visited museums. “A lot of the paintings I saw were older, not styles that I would want to paint in. But the compositions were wonderful. That’s where a good part of my identification with composition started,” Worman says of her years abroad.
Featured in March 2007
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