Conway artist inspired by friend and stranger

Carol Rolf Originally Published August 11, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated August 9, 2013 at 11:53 a.m.
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Carol Rolf

Conway artist Dianne Dillingham-Noggle had a chance meeting with a stranger, who commissioned her to paint a portrait of him as a youngster. Shown with the finished pastel painting, the artist will soon send the portrait to him at his home in Canada.

CONWAY — Call it serendipity. Call it coincidence. Call it fate. But for Conway artist Dianne Dillingham-Noggle, “it” was a wake-up call to get back to doing something she has done since her teenage years — paint.

The artist has struggled for the past few years, dealing with personal challenges. It’s been almost two years since her son, Brandon Turner Dillingham, then 39, died, and even longer since she lost her mother.

“I’ve dealt with it,” she said. “I’ve grieved, but now I believe I’ll keep going on.”

The “it” in question is really a series of two events that have happened to her in the past several months.

“My best friend from college called me up last year and invited me to spend a week at the beach,” Dillingham-Noggle said. “I went over the Thanksgiving holiday, and I plan to do it every year. She lives at Fairhope, Ala., right on the [Mobile] bay.

“And then recently, I met a stranger [in a coffee shop] from Canada who was traveling across America and struck up a conversation with him. He asked me what I did, and I told him I was a portrait artist,” she said.

Dillingham-Noggle said she handed the stranger her business card, which has a photograph on the front of it of her son, Hunter, as a 1-year-old.

The man — John Williams of Toronto, Ontario — told her, “‘I would like for you to paint my portrait,’” she said.

“He went on his way, and I thought I’d never hear from him again, but I did. After he got back home, he mailed me a baby picture of himself, and I did a portrait for him.”

Dillingham-Noggle said these two events “kind of startled me back into what I used to do. They reminded me of my passion for painting. I love art. Now I paint every night. I go to the gym in the afternoon and come home and start painting after dinner. I cannot believe I am painting until 9 or 10 every night.

“I’m back doing what my mother, what everyone, wanted me to do — paint. My mother sent me to college to do this. She worked hard all her life. She is my example.”

Dillingham-Noggle is working from her home studio, creating portraits, which have been her mainstay for many years.

“I thank God for these two people,” she said. “Wow. Last year, I thought I might never paint again. But I am painting, and I am ready to take on new commission work.

“Maybe other people have experienced challenges like I have. Maybe others have said, ‘Poor me. I’m not good.’ Maybe my story will inspire them to go on, to continue their passions.”

Dillingham-Noggle said son Hunter, now 37, has been, and continues to be, a big help.

“He has really been supportive,” she said.

A native of Jackson, Miss., Dillingham-Noggle has a Bachelor of Science degree in art with a minor in psychology from Troy State

University in Troy, Ala. She completed

private art studies in the studio of Marjorie Edwards, a portrait artist in London, England. She also studied at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway and has completed an independent study with fellow Conway artist Gene Hatfield.

She taught school for 17 years throughout Alabama, Louisiana and Arkansas, including positions in Conway, Enola and Morrilton.

Dillingham-Noggle is a member of the American Society of Portrait Artists, the Portrait Society of America, the New York Society of Portrait Artists, the Arkansas Artists’ Registry and the Conway League of Artists.

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