Caught up in the moment

Sally Cole
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Award-winning artist Dianna Shyne visited the North Rustico lighthouse many times before she was inspired to create her award-winning painting

Dianna Shyne works on her next painting. The P.E.I. summer visitor, who lives on Camano Island, Wash., recently won first place for her painting, North Rustico Lighthouse, in The Artist’s Magazine Awards. Her recent work is on view at Details Past and Present in Charlottetown.

Artist Dianna Shyne has visited the lighthouse in North Rustico dozens of times over the past 14 years.

Each time, she has wanted to paint it, but it always seemed that the light or the angle was wrong.

Then one day, two years ago, the summer resident was walking up from the beach when a painting unfolded right in front of her.

“I loved how the broken lobster traps and old boards made interesting patterns on the grass leading up to the lighthouse. It was also the right angle with some interesting backlighting,” says Shyne, who quickly did a little painting and took some photos.

Later, when she returned home to Camano Island, Wash., she pulled out her study canvas and her acrylics and started to work.

“It came together quickly. Acrylics allow me to be more immediate and tactile. I’ve even taught myself how to use them so they look like oils,” says Shyne whose P.E.I. painting has just won an international art contest.

North Rustico Lighthouse took first place in The Artist’s Magazine Awards in the all media competition/acrylics section.

The owner of Details Past and Present Art Gallery in Charlottetown, who has kept track of many of Shyne’s pieces over the past decade, was “delighted” to hear about her award — one she says that is well-deserved.

“It’s a wonderful painting and a difficult one to pull off as the lighthouse is back-lit and she is painting white against white,” says Arlene Rice, who is also currently showing some of Shyne’s other recent works at the gallery.

For example, Spire, a silhouette of St. Dunstan’s Basilica, is one of Shyne’s current favourites.

“Spire stands up against the landscape wherever you are. It’s like a focal point. When I’m in Charlottetown I like to wander and get lost. And whenever I get totally lost, I look up and see the spire and it becomes my homing point. And I say, ‘there I am’ and then I’m able to find my way home,” says Shyne, who also has spent many years studying the capital city landmark.

“I’ve seen it covered with scaffolding. I’ve seen it gray and cloudy. But one day when I saw it hit by this late afternoon orange light, which turned it golden, I had to paint it. It was so beautiful beautiful,” says Shyne, who paints in the open air and is inspired by the Island landscape.

“The light is so nice. You can get a coral at the horizon and a coral mist in the air that you get here that you don’t get anywhere else. I also like that things, for the most part, are in a natural state. You can go there and it’s not bulldozed or covered with condos or anything like that,” she says.

Pleased with her win, Shyne has entered other art competitions with her P.E.I.-inspired work.

“I’ve also entered some of my work in the all-Canadian landscape contest through Arabella Magazine. But I won’t hear back from that contest until September,” says Shyne.

Looking toward the future, she’s planning a teaching trip to Tuscany and a return visit to P.E.I., where she hopes to hold an indoor workshop for artists and visit her friends.

Why does she keep coming back?

“I’ve been in love with P.E.I. ever since my first flight here, 20 years ago, when I met so many people on the plane who became my friends. I also live on an island, so I feel a deep connection to this place.”


Fast facts

Dianna Shyne, a P.E.I. summer resident, is a native of the Pacific Northwest, who has been painting for over 20 years.

Each year she gives a plein air workshop on Prince Edward Island.

Her paintings have received over a dozen national awards, including first place in the NWWS Open Exhibition 2002, the Grumbacher Gold Medallion and the Winsor and Newton Award.

Her work is included in private and corporate collections throughout the United States, Canada, Japan, China and Western Europe.

Shyne was trained in Russian impressionism, but she enjoys many other experimental and traditional forms of painting.

She participated in an artist-research project in the Northwest rainforest canopy sponsored by National Geographic.

Source: Details Past and Present Gallery (

Organizations: Arabella Magazine, Grumbacher Gold Medallion

Geographic location: North Rustico, Camano Island, Charlottetown Tuscany Pacific Northwest United States Canada Japan China Western Europe.Shyne

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Recent comments

  • Christine Flacco
    August 28, 2013 - 17:33

    Dianna Shyne is a beautiful artist and a fantastic teacher. I count myself lucky that I'm able to take her classes. I have learned so much in the last year attending her class. Christine Flacco