Any artist who has ever received the advice to "get a real job" might identify with Patricia Dibona, a mixed-media and graphic artist in Cumming.
"When I was growing up, it wasn’t a popular thing with my family to consider (art) any kind of a real career choice," said Dibona.
"I started out with an accounting degree, and I went to (the University of) Massachusetts-Boston, and I was always pressing my nose up against the gallery window," she said. "You know, I tried to go the business route, but it really didn’t fit with me."
But Dibona did eventually put herself back through college, enrolling in an illustration program but later switching to graphic design.
Now Dibona has been a graphic designer for more than 20 years, while also creating her paintings and mixed-media works.
Some of Dibona’s work is in digital format, but it’s hard to tell at first glance. She uses scanning techniques to make decorative elements like ribbon or buttons appear three-dimensional.
Others, like her shadowboxes or mixed-media works, include things like recycled wood, metal charms and feathers, retrieved from the wall of drawers in her studio filled with these doo-dads.
She teaches classes with another artist at her Cumming studio, where students can learn something new about jewelry making, painting or the art of collage — or "pollage," as Dibona calls it.
"Pollage is a class that I teach which is painting and collage together, and it’s really designed for someone that hasn’t had any painting experience," said Dibona. "They can come in and take a class from me, and when they’re finished they can have a complete piece that they’re happy with. I show them how to build up the canvas in the background with the paint and then how to collage on top of it. It’s a lot of fun."
She also teaches Adobe Photoshop and design classes at the studio, and has used her graphic design skills to develop a line of scrapbook papers, which she sells on her Web site.
Dibona uses a vivid color palette in her work similar to the bright, dreamy palette of painter Marc Chagall, whom she names as one of her inspirations.
Another inspiration to Dibona is abstract painter Wassily Kandinsky.
"My favorite abstract artist of all time was Kandinsky, because he was really the father and the master of nonrepresentational art or abstract art," Dibona said.
Dibona added that she believes art makes life more enjoyable.
"I really believe that we, especially women — and we have men, too, in our classes — but especially women, we are creative beings and it really is a wonderful thing to dig deep down, to use your creative energy and make something," said Dibona. "It really provides happiness and well-being."
Dibona is scheduled to teach pollage classes April 8 and 15 at the Quinlan Visual Arts Center in Gainesville.