Featured Artist Diane Rudnick Mann

Artist Diane Rudnick Mann presents a collection of pastel paintings so real they appear to leap off the paper. Visit her website to see more work.


pastel of nested glass bowls on a counter by Diane Rudnick Mann

“8 or 9 Glass Bowls” pastel, 25″ x 23″


I am self-taught and only began to paint later in life, and find that starting a new painting has always been an adventure filled with dread and ecstasy. Seeing the work appear on the paper, however, has undeniably become the biggest thrill in my life. It’s still a surprise.


pastel of a wall of fabric bolts by Diane Rudnick Mann

“Bolts of Fabric” pastel, 33″ x 44.5″


I was inspired to take a drawing class years ago when my (now grown) daughter took one in seventh grade. Her art class was called Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. The students’ work was exceptional and unexpected. The energy in the room on Parent’s night was different than any other Parent’s night I’ve ever attended.


pastel of a Ball jar on a windowsill by Diane Rudnick Mann

“Ball Jar” pastel, 20″ x 28″


When I moved to Los Angeles, I found the same class was being taught at the UCLA extension. Up to that time, I had been a writer, a businesswoman and a creative services manager at a large corporation. However, taking that drawing class completely changed my life.


pastel of cherries in a Chinese bowl by Diane Rudnick Mann

“Cherries in Chinese Bowl” pastel, 23″ x 21″


Photorealism is my focus. I work only in pastel. No easy feat for that medium.


pastel of pastel pencils in glass jars by Diane Rudnick Mann

“Pencils in Glass Jars” pastel, 50″ x 37″


I chose pastel because every other medium scared me. Mixing? Mediums? And I also find that the colors of pastels are unmatched. I use several brands of pastels as well as pastel pencils.


pastel of lots of glass containers against a black background by Diane Rudnick Mann

“A Lotta’ Glass” pastel, 47″ x 29″


When I first started painting, I chose fairly mundane objects like fruits and vegetables. I always worked on white pastel paper (sanded) and painted completely black backgrounds. Doing that can even make a carrot look fairly dramatic.


pastel of overhead view of red pencils in a jar by Diane Rudnick Mann

“Red Pencils” pastel, 17″ x 15″


When I began expanding my subject matter—looking for more complex and difficult objects to paint—I usually found what I was looking for by walking around my house. A lot of the things I was inspired to paint were older objects that had been long forgotten. I liked the character of these objects that had gone unnoticed for so long, and felt like I was rescuing them and giving them new life.


pastel of silverware in a glass by Diane Rudnick Mann

“Silverware in Glass” pastel, 21″ x 28″


Slowly, I started to look at painting glass objects, which was another leap of faith. Painting glass to look like actual glass seemed like an unreachable, mysterious goal to me. Since my studio is at my house, I knew no one would see my first attempts, so I began with a small pastel. I was shocked when it started to look like real glass!


pastel of bottles against a striped background by Diane Rudnick Mann

“Reflected Stripes” pastel, 47″ x 35″


My most recent paintings, “Reflected Stripes,” “A lotta’ Glass” and “Polka Dots” represent a major breakthrough for me. I created my compositions by taking large, thick foam core boards and wrapping them in interesting patterned papers. I leaned one wrapped board against a wall and placed the other flat in front of it to create a sort of wall and floor for the subject of my painting. Then I placed the glass objects in the scene I had created. Aiming a very bright light at the glass brought out the distorted reflections in the glass objects. It was magical.


pastel of glass containers against a polka-dot background by Diane Rudnick Mann

“Polka Dots” pastel, 47″ x 27″


I find I am able to understand my paintings more by watching someone else look at them. Sometimes I will ask my audience to explain what drew them to the work. Many times the comments I hear about my work puts it all together for me.


Artist Diane Rudnick Mann invites you to follow her on Instagram.


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  1. Your is wonderful. I f I didn’t know, I would have thought some of your were photographs. The detail is very realistic.

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