Inside the Workspace of Desert-Inspired Artist Ana DiGiallonardo
For some, the presence of people, of faces full of personality and expression, is what drives their work. For others, it’s the absence. In the case of Morongo Valley painter and photographer Ana DiGiallonardo, inspiration does come in the form of life — albeit not in the human form. The self-taught artist looks to nature when creating her abstracted, earth-toned pieces. Specifically, she looks to the landscape that surrounds her.
While she’s currently in the midst of a creative outpouring, DiGiallonardo’s painting is a relatively new venture. Though she’s enjoyed sinking her teeth into visual projects since childhood, it was only a few years ago that she was encouraged (with a little help from her now husband) to not only commit to a consistent art practice, but to finally feel comfortable sharing and exhibiting her work. And her newfound confidence is paying off: the artist has created a buzz with her dreamy, minimalist work and regularly secures commissioned and even public pieces.
To learn more about her process, we took a peek into her workspace chatted about how she’s consistently inspired by the desert, what would constitute a dream project, and more.
What brought you to the desert?
Honestly, it was a combination of a horrible landlord and the rising rent costs in Los Angeles. My husband and I were tired of it all and decided to look into buying a home. We quickly realized that buying anywhere remotely near LA would be impossible so we decided to look at other options. We both really love the desert and the fact that we could afford to buy a home there was especially appealing. We also wanted to prioritize finding a place that was quiet and had a slower pace of life. Within four months of deciding to buy, we were living in the desert.
And what about being there inspires your work?
I’m incredibly drawn to the color of desert landscapes. A lot of people think that the desert is this dry, hot, brown sweat pit, but it holds some of the most beautiful colors. I love how intensely saturated the colors of creosote and other native plants get when it rains. Sunsets are ever inspiring. I love finding rocks of the softest color of pink around our property. I find myself drawn to the variety of colors of sage. In the city you are distracted by where you have to go, who’s in your way, and how fast you can get it done. The desert forces you to take a breath, slow down, and admire the beauty around you.
How would you describe your style?
I’ve found that my style — in terms of painting and fashion — has simplified since moving here. I love clean simple lines and earthy colors. I try to not overthink my work and do what comes naturally. When starting a painting, I usually don’t have a palette or design in mind. I just pick up a pencil and follow my intuition. Simplicity is key.
What are a few of your must-haves for tapping into creative mode?
It can be hard to for me to get into a creative mode. Honestly, some days I have it and some days I don’t. When I have those “don’t” days, I listen and take a break. I don’t really have a specific thing that helps put me in a creative mood, like music or books. When I have good, productive days, it’s because I’ve thought of an idea that morning or the day before that I’d like to try out. Those are usually the pieces I love the most.
But I’ve found that trips away from home help keep me inspired. My husband and I took a road trip to through the Southwest last year that left a long lasting impression on me. The colors of the dirt and rocks in Arizona and New Mexico blew my mind. It completely opened me up to using more pinks and purples in my work. It helps to take a break from your everyday surroundings and be somewhere new.
What's been your proudest accomplishment as an artist thus far?
Last year I had my first solo show and painted my first mural, both at Midnight Oil Gallery in Yucca Valley. I only had a month to plan, paint, and frame eight pieces. Plus, I had to figure out how to paint a mural. All of that on top of my full-time job! It was an extremely daunting task but I was ready for the challenge. My show ended up selling out and my mural turned out better than I imagined it would. It was the pinnacle of my 2018 and my career so far.
And what would be a dream project?
My dream project would be something that scares me. If it scares me, that means it’s the right challenge and next step in my career. I would love to do a multi-wall mural for a high profile client. I would also love to collaborate with a brand or artist to create a product that utilizes my designs - something like rugs or pillows would be fun. Both of those scenarios would be terrifying yet thrilling.
Name a few artists who serve as inspiration for you — not necessarily for your work, but in general.
Ryan Lopez (my husband), Florence Welch, Mark Rothko, and contemporary painters Stacey Rozich, Heather Day, and Caris Reid.
All photos courtesy of Ryan Lopez.