Featured Artist: Pat Dicas


Inspiration from ‘Somewhere Else’

By Pat Dicas, Birmingham Branch


On the studio floor is a painted rug. At the center is an ancient Celtic figure holding the Tree of Life. “I have the gift of Life,” she seems to say. “Now, what shall I do with this gift?” Each one of us must answer the question.


“St. Francis D’Assisi” by Pat Dicas. “I love storytelling, and the story of St. Francis is one that is familiar to everyone,” she says. Rather than sweetness, however, I was inspired to paint this holy man by seeing a facial expression of great intensity. I wanted to portray the radiant power of sainthood. It is a field of intense love of God and of all His creation that is keeping the falcon from the barn swallows and the fox from the geese.”

I begin each painting day with this clearly in mind. The spirit of “Life as Gift” underlies all of my work. I work in oil on linen canvas, and my high-key paintings have a light all of their own.                                                          

My inspiration comes from “somewhere else.” It falls from the sky. It is sudden and surprising, connecting human beings from cave paintings to what is yet to come. 

Painters study the ones we call “the masters” to learn how to translate this, but in the end, each artist must step forward, alone, to try. The artist begins the work, but somewhere in the process, there comes a magical moment when the painting takes on a life of its own. It tells the artist what to do, and the artist simply follows as the painting becomes itself.





The Story Behind “Brenna — The Selkie,” Oil on Canvas 



The “real” Brenna is the granddaughter of an artist friend, and she often came to the studio to visit. She was an extraordinarily lovely child with fairy-tale looks and a family tree deeply rooted in Scotland.   

In Scottish folklore, a Selkie is a mythical creature, appearing as a seal in the water, but taking on human attributes on dry land. Any ordinary human who sees one falls helplessly in love. When I looked into Brenna’s large and soft eyes (not unlike those of a harbor seal), inspiration began to fall. When painting a portrait, I always paint the eyes first. This makes the subject immediately come alive for me, and then the “two” of us go forward together.

I changed the buttons on her dress to pearls and gave her a seashell necklace. The rose that she carries is changing from seaweed as she steps out of the frame.   

About the Artist

Patricia “Pat” Dicas with “Brenna”

Pat Dicas is primarily a portrait artist and has work in many private and public collections. Among her most meaningful recognitions is the honor of two NLAPW Vinnie Ream awards for her paintings “Brenna – the Selkie” (featured on The Pen Woman cover in Winter 2017) and “St. Francis d’ Assisi.”

Dicas has been a member of the Birmingham Branch for more than 20 years. She is a traditional painter, but coming from a scientific family, she has a secret love for science fiction. She and her husband have three adult daughters and live in Hoover. Her work can be seen at Artists Incorporated Gallery in Vestavia Hills, Alabama, where she serves as chair of the board of directors.