Dione Venables SLm, Hons

I was introduced to the ‘young’ Society of Limners in 1997, after my husband died, by a fellow RN colleague, Geoff Hunt who was at that time the Chairman of The Hilliard Society, which I originally joined.  He introduced me to Judith Young who was then Chair, of The Society of Limners and I joined because I very much liked the idea of beginners being encouraged, since that is what I was – never having picked up a -4 sable paint brush before.  The other two societies were rather more formal and encouraged already known commercial artists which I found intimidating!  
My first tutor in November 1996 was Pauline Denyer, as she was then called, and she was teaching miniature painting for beginners at West Dean.  I learned how to paint an egg with all its shades and highlights looking almost 3-dimensional – and became obsessed with this very different way of painting.

In 2001 Judith asked me to fill an unexpected vacancy and I became the Society’s Secretary until 2004, when Richard East took over.  Judith retired, Linda Orams was elected, and we took on a new lease of life and energy. The Society grew, dropping its two exhibitions per year (one in London) and opting for a larger longer annual exhibition in Chichester. When Janet Howard became Linda’s deputy chairman and brilliant caligraphist George Simpson joined the committee, we became even more innovative. We all got on so well together and, recovering from the loss of my husband in such imaginative and laughter-filled company obviously was good for my output.

The World Federation of Miniaturists has an International exhibition every four years and in 2003 I was one of seven members of the Society to submit work to be exhibited at The Smithsonian in Washington, USA.  I was very fortunate to sell my painting of the beautiful Court painter to Queen Marie Antoinette, Elizabeth Vigee Le Brun.  Seen here.

Although I have never had the time to paint full time, I was always interested in trying out different subjects and surfaces, which is why I have selected the particular six examples of my work. Pauline Denyer-Baker as she is now, was my inspiration where portraiture was concerned, and artists like Joy Stanley-Ricketts (and later her daughter Anna), Robert Hughes, Peter Shaw-Fraser and many others taught me more every time their work was exhibited.  That is why I am including pictures like Elemental Earth. In it I explored the very different textures of sea, sand and sky and it was fascinating to discover three very different methods of hatchwork and stippling.

I love the work of Gustav Klimt and so it was a delight to paint my own different version of “The Kiss.” Mine was an older ‘Adam’ with a younger Eve, complete with tempting apples etc.

I loved Venice and visited it twice. The most interesting picture, ‘The Mask Shop’  came about when I was looking into one of their lovely mask shops and realised that the shop glass front was reflecting the trees and sky behind me. 

Of course one has to try everything in order to know what you do best, so I tried flowers, landscapes, people and animals, learning a little more with every painting.  Gradually my age and arthritic problems in the spine began to show that I was not producing such fine work as I should – so I put away my paint brushes in 2006 with great regret and have reverted to my original occupation of writing.  Now I look at the exquisite work of the best of our members, many of which I have on my walls, and feel so privileged to have been in company, even for a brief time with the Faberg`es of the Miniatures World.

THE KISS: after Gustav Klimt, 2004. Certain colours were gilded in order to catch just a gleam of Klimt’s love of richness – but not too much!
ISLA: Black Labrador 2000, Isla was so patient and her eyes were saying “how much longer do I have to sit here?”
ELEMENTAL EARTH: Sea, Sand and Sky 2000
THE MASK SHOP, VENICE. 2001. The window was reflecting the building, trees and sky behind, giving the masks a strange appearance of floating.


EARLY MORNING WALK: Sparce, golden mistiness of just after sun-up 2001

Representing and Promoting Miniaturists and Calligraphers