The Interview Series: Diana Trout

An interview with Diana Trout

Our next lucky contestant is Diana Trout! I've long admired Diana, a mixed media artist and author of the groovy book Journal Spilling. I read the book years after I started art journaling, and was just gobsmacked at Diana's perspective. A book I highly recommend for beginning art journalists. 

I've always been inspired by the lives of artists, and interviews of artists. What is the link between sources of inspiration and finished work?  How do they make time for art? What mediums speak to the artist at that moment?


Yellow smashbook page, Diana Trout

First, a little background! Diana Trout trained as a painter at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and exhibits her mixed media artwork at galleries and shows. She has been teaching journaling, bookarts and mixed media art since 1993 at local and national venues. Her artwork and articles have appeared in national magazines and art zines. 

So here we go!  

Tammy: Tell me a bit about the mediums you most adore.


I started out as an oil painter in art school and then minored in printmaking. The art supplies I love most are squishy & gooshy and can be manipulated: paper, cloth, stitch, watercolors and anything water-soluble.

Cloth and stitch is the best right now. It is absolutely miraculous what the hand, needle, thread and cloth can do together. The involvement of the hands completely changes the look of the artwork. You can see slight dimpling and there is a softer feel. I like to think that I can see the soul of the maker in a hand stitched item. Machine stitching is mesmerizing because you are drawing with stitch in a more gestural way than with hand stitch. Just as exciting in an active way.


I am Enough, smashbook page, Diana Trout

Tammy: Doing art and having an environment conducive to doing art is great for kids. As a mom, how did you nurture creativity as your kid(s) were growing up? 


I am laughing right now because aside from the usual exposure to arts and crafts materials and looking at and talking about art, there were so many things we did together. My family is teeming with creative thinkers and storytellers on both sides. A walk around the block could take an hour. Along the way, there were caves (a big bush), fairy rings (three trees together), a yard full of weeds hiding either monsters or small magical creatures. My son (21) loves looking at art and is very thoughtful about it. My daughter's wedding plans are in full steam now and we are having so much fun making it uniquely "THEM." There WILL be fairies and limitless spring-like colors.

Tammy: What habits do you use to spark your creativity?


Probably the same as everyone: keep it moving, keep your eyes open, make, make, make. But also, solitude and quiet (sometimes difficult to achieve but there are always pockets of time). And laughing and dancing. These things shake my head up so I try to do them everyday. Luckily, I'm surrounded by funny people.

Diane created a new video to share how she works in her journal.

Tammy: Your book Journal Spilling is one of my favorite books to introduce people to the art of art journaling. How do you differentiate art journaling from mixed media artwork or artful journaling? 


While I don't like to define any of these things, it does help people who are new to it to have some parameters. So I offer these loose definitions.

Art Journaling, at the end, is a book filled with thoughts expressed in words and artwork. Any kind of artwork. I use the phrase "at the end" because you may not know what it is at the beginning. You may start with a word, a stencil, a magazine clipping or some other prompt but you don't know where it's going. One thing leads to another as you become lost in the process. And then - there you have it. Something may be revealed. Or maybe not. It doesn't matter.


Rain, mixed media, Diana Trout

I strongly encourage my students to keep an open mind when starting in an art journal. That's the way to let the cat out of the bag.

Scrapbooking, Lifebooking, Artful Journal seems to have more intent from the beginning. I like to keep a SMASH-like book where I put stuff like "Hats I Love" or "A Garden." That is a ton of fun and a completely different process.

Tammy: Have your smash books inspired other creative endeavors? 


SMASH books are just fun. I think they are a great bridge for folks who are trying to move from scrapbooking to art journaling. They take me back to my middle school days when my friends and I would cut out magazine pictures and tape them in a composition book. We'd write quotes or funny things people had said. My teen journaling class works in composition books. So in some ways the SMASH style inspires me to work with the teenagers in a much simpler way and gives me an insight into very beginning journalers minds. I forget how hard it is to face that blank page!

Here's where you can find Diana! 




Book: Journal Spilling

Explore The Interview Series! 

① Marit Barentsen, mixed media artist.

②: Mixed media artist Natasha White.

③ Podcaster and fiber artist Amy Cowen.

④ Mixed media artist Diana Trout.

All artwork and photography in this post are copyright Diana Trout and utilized with permission from the artist.