Susquehanna Heritage presents “Current Color – A Year on the River” by Diana Thomas

Susquehanna Heritage will host works from Columbia artist, Diana Thomas. The collection showcases her journey to paint fifty-five paintings of the Lower Susquehanna, one painting a week for over a year. Though the paintings are the most visible part of her unique project, ‘Current Color – A Year on the River’, there is more to this presentation.  Thomas decided to keep a weekly journal entry that portrays a strong current of life lessons flowing through her body of work.  She writes of the River’s beauty and peaceful healing presence when her life was touched by tragedy. The ‘Current Color’ paintings are acrylic on 12″ x 4″ or 4″ x 12″ canvas.  A few are mixed media.  The journal entries will be presented alongside each week’s piece.

These amazing works will be on display at Columbia Crossing River Trails Center between April and June. Entrance to the gallery is free but donations are appreciated. Columbia Crossing owned by the Borough of Columbia and is managed by Susquehanna Heritage. Susquehanna Heritage works to showcase the river’s natural, recreation, and history stories to make this region a national destination for outdoor fun and cultural discovery. Visitor hours of the center are Tuesday – Saturday 10 AM – 4 PM, Sundays 12 PM to 4 PM through Memorial Day. After Memorial Day the center is open Tuesday – Friday 9 AM – 5 PM, Saturday & Sundays 9 AM – 6 PM.

Creative River – Expand your creativity with Diana

Interested in expanding your creative skills at the riverfront? Get in touch with your inner artist by participating in Creative River, a riverfront art series for ages 15 and older. Artist, Diana Thomas, will lead small groups through journaling, sketching, and painting between April and June. April 13: 1 PM – 4 PM. Session 1 gives instruction and suggestions for writing about the river and nature. Includes  a writing journal to keep. May 18: 11 AM – 2 PM. Session 2 gives instruction for sketching and creatively noting your river surroundings. Includes a nature journal to keep. June 22: 10 AM – 2 PM. Session 3 gives instruction on use of acrylic medium, color basics, composition, and painting techniques so you can create a small river painting of your own. Includes 4″ x 12″ mounted canvas to paint and keep. Each session includes an introduction, tutorial and Q+A with artist, educator, and nature-enthusiast Diana Thomas as well as a sharing time at the end of each session. Supplies and materials including watercolor pencils, pens, paint and brushes will be supplied for group use. Group and individual instruction during each session. Classes will take place rain or shine. Participants may register for just one class ($25) or all three ($60). Register online or call 717-449-5607 ext 0.

Current Color – Exhibit Story

Thomas initially began the project in December 2015, to practice allowing herself the time to create art on a more regular basis than she had been doing.   “I wanted to create a challenge that would stretch me but one that was also realistic enough to complete,” she explained.  “I set up an album for each quarter of the year for all the photos I would take several times a week.  It seemed fitting to keep a written record of the progress, the process of making the art, and any particulars about the river itself.”  She started to work just before Christmas, 2015.

Three quarters of the way through the project, on September 14th, 2016, Diana’s 41-year-old daughter died tragically, losing her long battle with substance overuse.  Less than a month later the same tragedy befell her daughter’s mate of ten years, leaving behind their then 8-year-old son.  “I don’t really have any words to express what our family went through in the first weeks and months after that, but I felt compelled to try to ‘say’ something to my daughter or for her through painting.  Our daughter was an artist and singer, and I knew she would have wanted me to keep going with the project.  I created a piece called ‘River of Tears’.  I also created a painting in honor of our son-in-law called “Even the Moon Cried.”  Though both pieces are included in the ‘Current Color’ presentation, Thomas at first did not think she would show these two paintings.  “But by then ‘Current Color’ had taken on a life of its own and this sad time needed to be part of the whole”, she said.

Upon completion of Current Color, Thomas reflected “Of course, I had no way to know what was in store when the year began but I can truly say painting through it was a blessing in disguise.  I pray it will also have a healing effect on others.”

In December 2017 some of the Current Color collection was on loan to an organization that promotes the natural use of the Northern Susquehanna watershed and was displayed at a large medical center in Williamsport, PA.  To everyone’s dismay the original painting, week #13, titled “Mr. and Mrs.”, a scene featuring a pair of Canada geese wading into the water was stolen from the wall of the exhibit.  For the show at the Columbia Crossing it will be replaced by a canvas print, an exact replica of the original and a new but larger original of that scene.  “I would really like to know why someone was so attracted to that piece that they just took it,” Diana mused.  “Now this situation just becomes a new part of the Current Color story.  This precious one of a kind piece is irreplaceable and I would gladly give a print of that piece if the original was returned.”

“Current Color will probably never have an ending for me,” Diana said.  “I have painted three new pieces for the series since it was first shown in 2017 and there are several more waiting to be finished.  It will flow on for a long time.”