American Abstract Artist
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.
“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.”
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 to India.
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.