Welcome to MissouriBendStudio!

This is an online journal of my artistic investigations and a way to communicate about my work, ideas, quandries and queries! I welcome comments and conversation and do hope you enjoy these musings. My artwork is available in my shop MissouriBendStudio on Etsy.com or on my website.


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Inspirations: Diana Behl

Hello! It's the first of the month and I'm here to introduce you to a new artist, Diana Behl, whose work I very much admire, which serves as a never ending source of inspiration for me. This is the first time I've done an Inspirations post on an artist that I actually know in real life and it's a treat to bring her work to you. Diana is an artist here in South Dakota who teaches printmaking at South Dakota State University in Brookings, which is about two hours from here. She's a delightful person and makes beautifully sensitive work. You'll get to know her through her work and the responses to my questions below. She has also included an insightful statement on process at the end. Hope you enjoy this work as much as I do!

Can you tell us a little of your background and what brought you to making art?

For as long as I can remember I’ve been interested in making and creating. Imagination and play in childhood naturally unfolded into the choice to seriously pursue art.

As an artist or as a student, did you start out as a printmaker or did you migrate to that discipline from somewhere else?

As an undergraduate at Bowling Green State University I started out in graphic design, and gradually shifted over to printmaking. I discovered intaglio with copper plates while studying with Janet Ballweg, and the process just clicked. I haven’t been able to shake it off yet!

Where you find inspiration?

My ideas are gathered from everyday life, memory and simply the idea that form is content (an idea inspired by Ben Shahn). I’ve recently been very interested in Corita Kent–a former screenprinter who taught at the Immaculate Heart College in California. I found a list of “general rules for a student” that she wrote that has really helped me find solace in my recent studio work. And of course, offer to my students. My favorite rule is:

It’s very true! Steadfast commitment in the studio often creates ideas with which to build an entire body of work.

Who are the artists who have inspired you along the way?

Squeak Carnwath, Cy Twombly, David Carson, Crown Point Press

Any special books, films, music that have special meaning for you?

The Shape of Content – Ben Shahn
Letters to a Young Poet – Rainer Maria Rilke
The End of Print – David Carson

Can you talk a little about your process? Do you work intuitively or do the printmaking processes require you to have a more careful plan for each work?

I work on many different bodies of work at once–various works on paper including drawings and collages, mixed media works on panel and intaglio prints. Working in this way informs each process (and process informs the images, and their construction) and keeps me on my toes. It helps to combat monotony in the studio.
In general I work intuitively, and I have as many as 15 images in the works at any given time. Each mark informs the next. And each piece informs the next image. Each medium has its own language and I think that is evident in each body of work.
Because the intaglio medium can be costly and arduous, a bit more planning is required than a collage or drawing. Therefore, I try to have a loose plan when I begin a new print and aim to embrace the unexpected as the image evolves.

What's the best part of being and artist?

Boundless possibilities.

If you could have a small gathering for lively and interesting conversation around the dinner table and you could invite anyone from history....who might be on your guest list?

I think I would be more interested in observing a lively conversation around a dinner table! Guests could include: Ben Shahn, Cy Twombly, Noam Chomsky, Squeak Carnwath, Carson McCullers and Chan Marshall.

On Process

My work explores an assortment of paper-based media in the forms of prints, drawings, collages and cut-paper installations. Paper has a presence that captivates me. The expressive and aesthetic qualities it embodies when coupled with favored materials articulates a poignant language. Its texture, color, and weight captures a variety of markings: the tactile sense of a graphite line moving across its surface; observing the liquid of a marker gracefully being absorbed into its fibers presents contentment. Similarly, delight and challenge are discovered when pairing items to work with, engineering small details on copper plates or carefully crafting objects.

Memory plays a role as an impetus to record. Stimuli are derived from snippets of the seemingly ordinary, to an ineffableness that challenges clarity. These visual moments of inspiration are boundless. This begins as fodder; the outcomes have arrived through a process of investigation, reinvention and trial and error.

Each mark, addition or deletion aids a fraction that defines a comprehensive whole; slices are pieced together to form a nonlinear narrative. The physical journey within the space of a composition creates a backdrop for metaphor or story-telling. Each chosen medium characterizes this space. Printed information from a copper plate becomes imbedded within the surface of paper, while thoughtfully selected ephemera treads in a more shallow navigation. Moody atmospheres and intimate or heavy mark-making lead to paths that are unanticipated, and may create an earnest whimsy. Ideas uncover, solutions unfold. Working intuitively with paper-based media pilots a profound, selfless moment. Artist unites with spectator. Invited to make connections, they meander or reflect, and observe findings of a shared nature.

Find out more by visiting directly with Diana through the following links:


  1. beautiful work and artist! thank you for the introduction!

  2. Thank you for this -- her words were magical and yet very sensible.

  3. Thanks everyone for the comments on Diana's work and words....hope she is a source of inspiration for you as she is for me!


I'm happy to hear from you...comments and questions are welcome!