About the Project

A People Palette is a series of portrait paintings which enables me to express my personal aesthetic vision while incorporating my interest in people and my desire to involve others in the creative process. Each painting shows the unique beauty of the individual; however, there is a power from the cumulative effect of viewing the paintings as a group, thus reflecting the beauty of differences. It is my desire to promote tolerance, acceptance and individuality through the paintings and other elements of the project.

I have always been fascinated by people from different backgrounds, that interest actually taking me around the globe to travel and live. When I moved to Venice Beach, California a couple years ago, I was inspired to paint the tremendous variety of people co-existing and flourishing within its community. A People Palette is a way to utilize my art as a forum for interacting with people. I discover people through the painting process and that discovery is shared with others in the finished paintings.

The interactive components are an integral part of the project as I feel it is important to bring people into the creative process. The portrait paintings are the fruits of a series of sessions with each sitter, in which participants enjoy active roles in the creation of the paintings. Each person brings an object of their choice to be included in the painting. The object adds a symbolic element relevant to the personís life or character, as well as a unique artistic element influencing the composition and the chromatic focus, which each person and I develop together. Each person also fills out a questionnaire about who they are, giving them another opportunity for expression, as well as having the potential to break down peopleís preconceptions or stereotypes.

This website was also created bearing in mind the inherent interactive capabilities of web pages. There are many approaches to navigating around the site. Some viewers may focus on the artistic elements, others on who these people are, while others may focus on the issues of diversity. The games are being developed to add even more fun to the process of exploration.

In the near future, there will also be a corporate program to celebrate the arts and diversity, encouraging involvement with the local community and adding new faces from each community to the People Palette website.

As well as the interactive qualities of the project, A People Palette is a celebration of color, whether that be the colors of our skin or the color wheel. As I have set 100 paintings as my goal for this project, it is a challenge to come up with a variety of palettes that are new and fresh. The abstract pieces, created by cleaning my brushes on paper towels, reflect the pure love of the colors that are essential to this project. The color bar at the bottom of each painting shows the palette of colors used to create the skin tones of the respective person, demonstrating that a person is not just one color. Many of the colors used in the skin tones are the same whether I am painting someone who is classified as Black, White, Asian or Hispanic. Many people, Americans in particular, are a mixture of different ethnic backgrounds, and between the color bars on the paintings and the part of the questionnaire relating to ethnicity, I hope to show that people arenít just simple classifications. The beauty of our communities is the richness of our cultural fabric. As in the tradition of quilting bees, each person is given a square of equal proportion. Each square is unique, but together they are spectacular.

At heart, this project is about people. We learn to read faces from the time we are children and we never stop wanting to know what others think, feel and believe. It is a challenge and joy for me to paint and interact with people to help facilitate individual expression and hopefully a broader understanding of who we are.

A People Palette

Artist Diana Hobstetter
Web Design Diana Hobstetter
Web Design Instructor Bonnie Wolfe (aka The Computer Lady)
Database Programmer Richard Grossman
Web Design Facility Break Away Technologies
"Open Studio" Program Coordination and Co-Funding The Benton Foundation
"Open Studio" Program Co-Funding The National Endowment for the Arts
"A People Palette" Participants

My parents, Don and Nina Woolston, for always supporting and encouraging me as an artist.
My husband, Richard Grossman, for all the support and encouragement in my career, which has been a big part of its increased development; for being my publicist when I'm feeling shy; for the color bar idea; for computer/design assistance. 
Karin at the Bean Queen, for renting the upstairs studio to me, and for the inspiration of 'A People Palette', which came from the great atmosphere of this little coffee shop. 
The NEA and the Benton Foundation, for offering the Artists Online program. 
All at Break Away Technologies, for training and hosting this site, particularly Bonnie Wolfe, for being an excellent and encouraging web design trainer. 
Shana Nys Dambrot, for her kind review in Art Commotion. 
My 3rd grade math teacher, for calling my mother to suggest art classes for me rather than reprimanding me for drawing in class instead of doing my math. 
All the people in my life who've encouraged me along the way. 
And, of course, all the people who sat for 'A People Palette', who gave me their time freely, and made this project possible.