Central Bucks Edition-Pages D1 and D2
Doylestown, PA             
Thursday, October 17, 2002

Dyan’s Law: Enjoy your art
by Naila Francis, Staff Writer

The Doylestown artist and breast cancer survivor believes talent is unimportant.  It’s the feelings, sensitivity and creativity that each of her students brings to their work that count.

Dyan Law has a saying she uses to encourage her students:  “If you enjoy yourself, you will enjoy your art.  If you improve your art, you will enjoy yourself.”

The Doylestown artist realizes she may be a bit unconventional in her approach, but her gentle prodding, the creative license she allows and her belief in having an intuitive feel for what’s right are some of the reasons her classes at the Highland Manor Art Studio in New Britain Township have become so popular.

“I like to have music during my classes,” she says.  People are free to choose their own medium and they’re encouraged to paint what really delights them.  I do teach technique, but more importantly, I want to bring out what their feelings are about what they’re painting.

Law, a painter and designer, spent several years designing a product line of gifts, dinnerware, toys and textiles for Lillian Vernon catalogs and also worked as a custom designer for Michael Roger Press Inc., creating promotional products for the entertainment, designer clothing, advertising and book industries.

Her designs have appeared on silk scarves, wallpaper, garment bags, rugs and Christmas stockings. Also, Steven Spielberg, Reba McIntyre and Tim McGraw and others have used her prormotional designs.

With Dyan Law Design Inc. the stationery and invitation design and manufacturing company she ran for five years while living in New York, she sold her products to retail stores throughout the United States and Mexico and had them featured in several bridal publications.

Her invitations even made her a Louie Award finalist—the equivalent to the Academy Awards held by the American Greeting Cards Association.

Now, however, Law is devoted primarily to painting and in particular sharing her knowledge of art with her students.  Although she still does some custom design work occasionally, she spends most of her time with her oils, and watercolors, her acrylics and pastels, painting in the studio she has also made a school.

In these parts, some people refer to her as the “holistic art teacher in Bucks County.”  Law, who recently moved from New York, does not mind the distinction.

Diagnosed with breast cancer three years ago, she appreciated the value of art as a tool for personal stress reduction.  Her cancer is in remission now, but it was her painting, she says, that helped her cope with the disease. “By reading my art books”, she says, “and going back to the galleries and starting to paint slowly that in a way helped save my life.”

Art did for her what it did for many of her students when she served as an art instructor for cancer patients at the Hospital of Joint Diseases in New York City.  “Just to watch the excitement on their faces,” she says of the children she taught, “ brought a lot of meaning to my life.  After my experience with cancer, the feeling for my own work intensified.  Now I just want my work to reflect my passion more than anything else.”

She also wants her studio, where she teaches teenagers and adults, to be a place where people feel relaxed and comfortable—no matter the mental, emotional or physical problems they may be facing.

“What I really like about this classroom, says Lynne Schreck, an emerging Doylestown artist, who studies with Law, “is that Dyan is a really gentle person and she challenges you in a gentle way so that you really reach to express yourself.  There’s a nonjudgmental sort of attitude that is very welcome for people who are a little bit tentative about picking up art later in life or even younger people who may not have the confidence.”

Royal Unzicker of Sellersville has been painting with watercolors for seven years.  He, too, appreciates the nurturing atmosphere in Law’s classes.  “One of the things that makes her classes fun,” he says, is that she is able to get the students to interact.  All of them feel comfortable and challenged working together and working with each other.  It’s a nice feeling.”

Law has been painting and drawing since was a child growing up in Queens, New York.  Her father was a music publisher and her mother played the piano, so she came from a creative family.

She earned her Bachelor’s degree in primary and secondary art education, as well as an associate’s degree in fine art from the University of Bridgeport; in Connecticut and in addition to her design work has taught at various schools and camps throughout New York.

Her work tends toward landscapes and figurative paintings; a covered bridge awash in the pinkish glow of early morning, the Cuttalossa Mill basking in the golden tones of a warm afternoon, a Brazilian woman with leathered face and wary eyes peering from beneath her head wrap, a mother and her children embracing in a blend of pastel shapes.

Always, her emphasis is on bringing the experiences of the body, mind and spirit to her paintings, an aspect cultivated through 20 years of studying and teaching karate and tai chi.  “The attitude I was taught in martial arts,” she says, “was the same attitude I had about my art.  It’s not the aggressive, overt type of behavior that’s effective in martial arts.  It’s learning how to be gentle that will give you strength.  Someone who teaches gently through art is more powerful than someone who’s aggressive.”

“I would love people to really appreciate the time and effort they give to art.  You don’t have to be born with talent.  Trusting your own instincts is important.  It’s what it means to you and the sensitivity and creativity that you bring that count.