Lifestyle

Losing job led to clean slate for artist

  • Diana Fearis and her slate art (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
  • Diana Fearis and her slate art (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
  • Diana Fearis and her slate art (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
  • Diana Fearis painting on slate (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
  • Diana Fearis painting on slate (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
  • Diana Fearis painting on slate (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
  • Slate artist Diana Fearis (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
  • Some of Diana Fearis' slate art (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Diana Fearis was annoyed to get home and find a pile of old roof slate.

Her partner, Chris Dakin, had collected it while diving off Dockyard and delivered it as a present.

He thought it might come in handy with her painting. In her eyes it was “junk”.

“I thought, what the heck am I going to do with this?” she said.

Eventually, curiosity got the best of her. The hobbyist painter picked up a brush and dabbed some acrylic on the stone.

She was surprised by how the colour popped.

“I loved it,” she said. “The slate gave my work a special depth and texture.”

That was last March. The 63-year-old has found it impossible to go back to painting on canvas since. Her slate is selling in a way her paintings never did before.

“I find it boring,” she said. “People like the fact that it’s a piece of Bermuda history. I call them unique and antique.”

Mr Dakin believes the slate was shipped over from Wales in the 1800s as roofing material for military buildings in Dockyard; some of it has the square nailholes that were in fashion at that time.

In the late 19th century, the buildings were demolished and pushed into the sea. The slate has been there ever since.

Ms Fearis hadn’t painted much since high school. She started again in January 2016 to kill time after she was made redundant, joining the Plein Air Painters of Bermuda.

“I’d worked as a personal assistant for 20 years,” she said of the lost job. “It was very hard. I didn’t know what to do with myself. They really got me back into it.”

She has now painted hundreds of Bermuda fish, birds, cottages and beach scenes on slate.

Some of her pieces are fridge magnet size, and others are big enough to hang on the wall. Prices range from $30 to $300.

“People are coming to me saying they want a unique gift for someone,” she said. “I’m doing a painting of someone’s dog, right now.

“I’ll try anything.”

She paints in a tiny corner of her apartment in Paget, mostly first thing in the morning or midafternoon.

“But not every day is an art day, as any artist will tell you,” she said.

“You have to be inspired and you have to be in the mood.”

Getting into the right frame of mind is the most challenging thing.

“Sometimes when you don’t feel like doing it, it’s better not to push it,” she said. “If you do, the work won’t come out right.

“But I’m excited because I can now take it to this level.”

As much as she’d like to devote herself to her new-found passion, she’s still looking for a full-time job.

“Unfortunately, I can’t make a living off of this,” she said.

Look for Ms Fearis’ work at Masterworks’ annual arts and crafts sale on November 4 and the annual Home-Grown Alternatives sale on December 2.

• Contact her on: 236-4542 or dianafearis@gmail.com