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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Local artist donates proceeds to Shriner’s

Diane Culley is a local watercolorist and art teacher who donates all of the proceeds from her work to Shriners.  (Jordan Tolley-Turner/The Spokesman-Review)
Diane Culley is a local watercolorist and art teacher who donates all of the proceeds from her work to Shriners. (Jordan Tolley-Turner/The Spokesman-Review)

When local artist Diane Culley’s adult son was diagnosed with brain cancer, the doctors gave him six months.

“It’s been six years and he’s doing great,” Culley said.

But looking back on their time in hospital, Culley said she never forgot the children she saw there.

“We lived with him in the hospital … and I just saw firsthand all this stuff … there were so many children,” she said. “It was amazing to me how many little kids were there with cancer … it was just so sad.”

She wanted to do something. So, two years ago, she started donating the proceeds from her art sales to Shriners Children’s Hospital.

Between watercolor and interior design, Culley has always been creative. Arts, crafts, quilts, “you name it,” she said.

She remembers sitting down one day, 40 years ago, ready to add watercolor to the list.

“I’m very artistic, so I thought, ‘I can do this,’ ” she said. Self-taught, “it took a fair amount of years to get competent … to where I felt like it looked professional.”

But she was determined.

“I didn’t have a lot of money or anything and so I had to learn how to matte and frame myself,” she said.

Teaching, she said, came naturally.

“People were asking … so I started,” she said.

Living in Twin Lakes at the time, she started teaching at a senior center in Coeur d’Alene. She took a break for a year when she and her husband moved to Spokane. But when the center asked her to come back, she decided the weekly drive was worth it.

“Every Wednesday, I teach a class to anywhere from like seven to 10 students in each class … so that’s really fun for me,” she said. “It’s great to see people learning – getting better and better. I enjoy that.”

Constantly progressing from one project to the next and adding teaching to the mix, her paintings started to pile up.

“I was like, ‘What am I going to do with all these?’ ” she said. And two years ago, the idea finally occurred to her. “Why not Shriners?”

“And that’s what I did,” she said.

To aspiring artists, Culley offered the following advice: You don’t need to spend a fortune on brushes, but you can’t afford to skimp on paint or paper.

And beyond materials: “Start – it’s just a piece of paper.”

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