In Full Bloom: Botanical Artist Dyana Hesson
Writer Lynette Carrington
Photography by Veronika Countryman
Bringing the natural beauty of the desert to discriminating clients through her art, Dyana Hesson gathers inspiration from a variety of sources. Each painting is a work of love and, like the desert, the unique elegance of each piece reveals itself during the weeks and months during which it is created.
For botanical artist Dyana Hesson, the process of creating her exquisite paintings is as much about how the subject makes her feel emotionally as it is the physical beauty of blooms or cactus. Her works include a variety of succulents, cacti, lilies, tulips and other visual superstars of the desert and garden world, and her subjects exude a compelling visual personality as interpreted by Hesson. Her oil paintings can convey unity, solitude, happiness, love and friendship through the expert orchestration of subject arrangement, angles and interpreted lighting.
While the subjects of her paintings are something that most Arizonans see in their everyday life, seen through the artistic interpretation of Hesson, plants, cacti and flowers take on a new meaning. Utilizing layers of oil, Hesson is able to create a unique version of light within the painting itself that creates a heavenly aura for the botanicals and blossoms. A distinctive play of light and shadow gives an ethereal quality to her paintings.
As a child, Hesson would go out on her family property and work on landscaping, eventually taking up photography to capture the magic moments that she experienced with nature.
She attended ASU and earned her degree in art, graduating magna cum laude. Now into her 27th year as a professional artist, her work is not about cranking out a certain number of paintings; it’s about personal connection and emotion —feeling each painting and even interpreting a painting to align with a client’s home or lifestyle.
“I’m so blessed because I would say the art market as a whole has not been that gracious to most of my artist friends,” says Dyana Hesson. “I really feel like it’s not enough to have talent. You also have to have passion, work ethic and a mind for business.”
She often finds her inspiration in the very muse that brings forth colorful and unique blossoms: the desert. Hesson is an avid hiker, especially in the foothills around her northeast Mesa home, and she will often visit other gardens and other states to take photos or observe blossoms and succulents as potential subjects. Her paintings hang in homes all over the world, including many here in Arizona.
Carefree architect Mark Tate is among her fans. “He had a client who bought one of his homes in Estancia… a beautiful modern home,” explains Hesson. “When he bought the home, he wanted art. He asked Mark and their design team about supporting a local artist. Their designer asked the new homeowner, ‘What about Dyana Hesson?’”
Seven of her large pieces that had been residing at Bonner David Galleries in Old Town Scottsdale were hung in the new home so the owner could fly in and see how the paintings clicked in the house. The homeowner purchased every piece.
Hesson met Tate through a friend when the architect had been building a home in Scottsdale. Tate was seeking a massive botanical mural for the home and went online to see the artist’s work.
“We’re both equally passionate about our fields,” says Hesson. “We get each other. He has an artist’s mind. He fell in love with my work, contacted me and asked if I could do this mural.”
The mural was ultimately cost prohibitive because of the amount of time Hesson would have to spend on site, and the client made another choice. However, Tate’s admiration of Hesson’s work remained strong and the friendship between the two has grown.
“We are admirers of each other’s work,” she explains. In fact, she hopes that one day when she and her husband decide to move, Tate will be the architect of their new home.
In December 2015, Hesson’s book “Radiance: The Paintings of Dyana Hesson” hit the market. During the first half of 2016, “Return to the Desert: Celebrating the First 25 years of Paintings by Dyana Hesson” at Desert Botanical Gardens put a couple dozen of her paintings in the spotlight in what was perhaps the most apropos place in the Valley for that kind of exhibition. Then, in March 2017, design professionals nominated and awarded Hesson with the prestigious Master of the Southwest award from Phoenix Home and Garden. The combination of these three landmark events has put Hesson in high demand.
Even so, she does not compromise quality for the time that it takes to create additional inventory. Each painting is a labor of an artist’s love for her craft and can’t be rushed.
Each year for the past 15 years, Hesson has held a spring show at Bonner David Galleries to benefit Show Hope, a nonprofit that assists adoptive parents with the financial side of their adoption endeavors. It is a cause close to Hesson’s heart as she herself was adopted into a loving home as a baby.
Because of the current demand for her paintings, she is skipping her 2017 show to work on replenishing her inventory. “I’m happily painting, creating and focusing on complex compositions that I want to paint,” says Hesson. “Bonner David still has pieces, but every time I send them a new piece, it sells. Before, I might wait months and sometimes years for those big pieces to sell.”
Hesson’s public art can be viewed in various places in the Valley, including Barrows Neurological Center and at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix, with her original art featured at patient check-in and limited edition prints hanging in patients’ rooms. Additionally, her artwork is in the permanent collection at Phoenix Sky Harbor Museum and is featured in ongoing rotation at Rusconi’s American Kitchen in North Phoenix.
“In our society, especially right now, we are so saturated with eye candy. We have Pinterest and Instagram, and we have these highly polished, filtered, orchestrated and staged photos of everything,” Hesson says. “We have access to and are inundated with really beautiful imagery all day long. My challenge as an artist is working in a medium that is old, messy, stinky, and rudimentary. These paintings don’t come out of printers. They are labored over day after day, sometimes for months.”
Hesson always wants to inspire her viewers to see the world in a new and compelling way. “My challenge is to get your attention with something that is created from my hands that was inspired maybe by a beautiful or staged picture, but that will capture your attention and also make you think about the natural world and how beautiful the natural world is.”
Dyana Hesson Artwork
Bonner David Galleries
7040 E. Main St., Scottsdale;
2837 N. Power Rd., Suite 104, Mesa