oils on paper
Oils on paper provided Dietrich with a means of experimentation and an exploration of new techniques. By the 1960s he had already worked in a wide range of mediums that included pencil, charcoal and ink, while also creating the engravings for etchings on copperplate and the composite layers for serigraphs on silk panels. These activities were fundamental to his growth as a fine artist, enabling him to start with a simple line drawing that could then be enhanced by either a monochromatic palette or a fanciful kaleidoscope of colors rendered in oil. In his later years, Dietrich’s oils on paper in particular became the focus of his work, perhaps owing to their more manageable scale (as compared to his large-scale canvases of past years). However, even as he was revisiting this familiar medium, he envisioned a new concept that would be all encompassing. Starting in the mid-1980s, he began experimenting with a new kind of treatment for his oils on paper, that entailed painting a base layer, or background, in acrylics on archival paper, on which he would render his paintings in oil and finish with a glaze. In addition, he conceived of a framing system that would feature these works loosely mounted on a white backing within a plexiglass shadowbox frame. Created during the last decade of his career, Dietrich’s special line of oils on paper embody the apotheosis of his career, as talent, technique and presentation all came together to create a “Gesamtkunstwerk” (total work of art).