Diane Weigelt was raised in the suburbs of Kansas City, Missouri. Her typical middle class family consisted of Mom, Dad, and an older sister. She attended church regularly with her family but didn’t fully accept or live for Jesus until her teen years. Diane knew that attending church was a good thing to do but it was just a Sunday thing. She suspected there was more to following Jesus than just believing in God’s existence. Learning to live for Him and letting Him guide her way has been a process.
This faithful artist played volleyball and worked a variety of odd jobs during her teen years. Her first job was babysitting. She rode her bike to a job at a beauty salon and also worked as a phone solicitor, cleaned houses, and worked at TCBY. She owned a car and worked to keep it on the road and for money to have fun with, of course! Her parents taught her the importance of work and how to provide for herself, but she still had a lot to learn about how to execute her faith.
The small church her family attended didn’t have a youth group. When a friend invited her to a youth group at a different church, Diane jumped at the opportunity. Things were different in this new church. Previously, church services were full of routine. Her new experience with church switched to personal and thought provoking. Her parents were happy that she found a church to connect with teens her own age. Attending a new church gave her the opportunity to learn a lot about faith during her high school years. The youth pastor at this new church left a mark on Diane by spontaneously talking to God in a fresh and inviting way. Charlie Martin was an encouraging spiritual mentor for Diane during high school. He enjoyed chatting with the students about scripture and what it meant. He poured into Diane’s life and she saw Jesus in a whole new way. The experience at the new church facilitated a personal relationship with Jesus and encouraged her to make vital decisions about who He was in her life.
As a teenager, Diane asked a lot of questions. “Who am I?” “Why am I here?” “What’s the purpose of life?” “Why do these things happen?” Charlie Martin pointed her back to scripture and God’s love for her and others as she struggled with confidence and worthiness. He made it easy for her to begin to understand her identity in Christ. Charlie helped Diane develop a tangible understanding of God. As she grew closer to God, the importance of loving and serving people became obvious. Charlie was vital in Diane’s growth and integral to her connecting with Christ personally. She’s thankful that Charlie instilled in her the ability to continually ask big and hard questions about life. “What do you want from me? How do you want to use me?” During this ongoing journey, she’s developed a process of asking God a question and then staying quiet enough to hear the response. Diane is constantly asking God questions like, “How do you want me to use the gifts you’ve given me and how do you want me to be a light to the people around me?”
She’s always loved creating art and always known that she wanted to use her talent to serve God and somehow make a living. Her high school art teacher, Mr. Shoe, believed in her and encouraged her to develop her creativity. He told her that she was a diamond in the rough, since she took art seriously and worked hard to excel. He prepared her for the harsh reality that it was hard to make a living in the art field just by creating. When she suggested following in his footsteps as a teacher, He told her that teaching was hard, since most children don’t take art seriously. Nonetheless, Mr. Shoe believed in her and told her that she could do whatever she wanted! He encouraged her to create and put herself and her work out there. He put her pieces in showcases and art displays in downtown Kansas City.
Three years into her faith journey, Diane was excited to start college at a school affiliated with the church she had been attending. She anticipated a true Christian experience. Before long, it became obvious that the institution was associated with Christianity in name only. There was an upper room at the school where students could go for reflection and quiet time. In the middle was a water fountain and around the fountain were representations of all world religions. There was no acknowledgment of Jesus Christ as lord and savior. With many fraternity and sorority parties, the students’ behaviour didn’t necessarily represent Christian values. One art professor encouraged students to look deep within themselves to find the answers to life’s questions. Many of the teachers did not demonstrate Christian standards. The school didn’t support faith with prayer meetings, Bible studies, or chapel services, and didn’t even encourage church attendance. The lack of support for her faith disappointed Diane.
One redeeming aspect of Diane’s investment of time at that institution was experiencing an answered prayer through her roommate, Heidi. New in her walk with Christ, the art student had never been close to someone that prioritized regular Bible study. Heidi’s demonstrations of living out her Christian faith encouraged Diane to dive into scripture and put down roots in her own faith. Together, they would try to understand the Bible. They challenged each other to read passages and then they’d have conversations about what they read. The New Testament came alive for Diane as she grew in her faith.
Dissatisfied with the lack of support for her faith and missing the love of her life, Diane transferred to a state school in Kansas City where she graduated with a Bachelors in Studio Art. Her first official job as an artist was in Kansas City at British Traditions as their hand painter. This company reproduced antique furniture and she would paint ivy and flowers on bureaus, armoires, corner cabinets, etc. She married her husband, Gerhard, after three years of dating. He became a Nazarene Minister and they moved to Mason, Michigan in 1997. Gerhard has been pastoring at the Mason Nazarene Church for twenty-four years. Gerhard and Diane have enjoyed raising their family in mid-Michigan.
Diane worked on a commissioned basis while her daughters were young. It was easy to fit this sort of work in around their needs. She’s been commissioned to paint murals in childcare centers and church nurseries. Her portraits of people, pets, and homes are always popular around gift-giving holidays. As her children grew more independent, she started offering art classes, originally intended for home school students. Home school classes went well and Diane was encouraged by a friend to start offering art classes for adults. She has been loving people through art classes in her basement studio for over five years now.
Ephesians 3:16–20 encourages the faithful artist to rest in His presence and power. It reads, “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge — that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” Diane understands this scripture as instruction in how to practically apply the two great commandments to her life. It reminds her to be rooted and established in His love so she can turn around and love others well in a way that pleases Him.
Teaching people how to paint in her basement studio brings Diane great joy. Managing a crowd of twenty to twenty-five people has stretched her personally, since she is naturally more of a one on one person. Nonetheless Diane enjoys connecting with people and inspiring them to get their creative juices flowing. Facilitating a safe, fun, and creative atmosphere has given the art instructor an opportunity to connect and build relationships with a variety of people. She doesn’t force her faith on anyone, but she ministers and personifies the love of Jesus whenever she gets the chance. God continues to work on her to remain open to what he has next for her life.
Attendance at Diane’s art classes has been great. People sign up on Facebook or through email. The talented teacher usually teaches two to three classes per month. Before class, the paint palettes and canvas are set for each student. Most of her students prefer that she draw a template for the evening’s project on the canvas for them. She sets the mood with music and light snacks. When students get frustrated with their creation, Diane reminds them to remember that they are all created unique and their artwork will reflect that! She encourages her students not to berate themselves or make comparisons. Diane hopes they just enjoy the process! Many people come back time after time.
The global pandemic has disrupted Diane’s normal routine but she’s been able to pivot and continue to offer instruction. Diane taught an outdoor class last summer and is currently holding a few virtual classes. Zoom is complicated with a class of twenty people because there’s no space for one on one conversations and it’s difficult to assist through a screen. She’s grateful for the ability to have virtual classes but looks forward to holding in-person classes again as soon as possible, hopefully this summer. Click here for information on a virtual class happening on March 21, 2021. If you’d like to commission Diane to create an original masterpiece for you or learn more about classes, click here to follow My Masterpiece Painting on Facebook. Click here to email Diane Weigelt.