D. H. Ramsey Library Special Collections and University Archives

Dianne Cable Sketchbooks and Journals


cabl_1978-79_054.jpg (177411 bytes)   cabl_1978-79_055.jpg (174516 bytes)   cabl_1978-79_053.jpg (174596 bytes)   cabl_1978-79_056.jpg (185893 bytes)
Self-portraits from 1978 - 79 sketchbook

Title Dianne Cable Sketchbooks and Journals
Creator Dianne Cable
Identifier http://toto.lib.unca.edu/findingaids/mss/cable_dianne_sketchbooks/default_cable_dianne.html
Subject Dianne Cable ; fine art ; drawings ; paintings ; journals ; sketchbooks ; Cortona, Italy ; Asheville, NC ; Canton, NC ; London, England ; Shakespeare ; Othello ; opera ; art education ; portraits ; trees ; life-drawing ; gesture drawing ; contour drawing ;
Subject Cable, Dianne 
Asheville (N.C.) -- Artist
Artists -- North Carolina -- Asheville
Painting, American -- North Carolina -- Asheville -- Exhibitions
Painters -- North Carolina -- Asheville -- Sketchbooks
Artists -- North Carolina -- Asheville -- Exhibitions
Description The Dianne Cable Sketchbook and Journal collection contains the life-work of artist and historian Cable.  The some 30 discreet books provide a unique personal and  visual history of one artist's creative journey and give an immediacy to the creative process that is often not found in singular works from individual artists. The many interests, friends, teachers,  and learning experiences that informed her art education are graphically recorded and may be studied for style change, theme, influence, context and more.

Dianne Cable, a former student at UNCA, studied with Tucker Cooke (UNCA Professor) and attended University of Georgia for graduate work in studio arts.  Dianne returned to UNCA to teach and was a part-time instructor in the department of Art at UNCA for seven years.  She has exhibited widely and her work is held in both private and public collections throughout the country. 

Publisher D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville
Contributor n/a
Date original 1963 - 2010
Date digital 2010-03-09
Type collection ; drawings ; paintings ; text ;
Format 30 + sketchbooks and journals in assorted formats
Source M2010.04.01-05
Language English
Relation UNCA Department of Art ; 
Coverage temporal 1960 - 2010
Coverage spatial Canton, NC ; Asheville, NC ; Atlanta. GA ; Cortona, Italy ; London, England ;
Rights Restricted.
The work of Dianne Cable is copyrighted. 
All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited
.  Any display, publication, or public use must seek permission from the artist and  the D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville.

Copyright retained by the creators of certain items in the collection, or their descendents, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
Donor Dianne Cable  [#374]
Acquisition 2010-03-09
Citation Dianne Cable Sketchbooks and Journals, D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville 28804.
Processed by Special Collections staff -  eb ; hw
Biography Dianne Cable was born in Canton, NC in western North Carolina.  A graduate of UNC Asheville Art Department, Dianne continued her studies at the University of Georgia and returned to UNC Asheville to teach for seven years following her graduation from the University of Georgia.   She worked for a time as a courtroom artist.  Her work is found in galleries and museums within North Carolina and throughout the United States.


"It is often assumed that those people born in the Western North Carolina Mountains be described as remote, backwards, deprived and impoverished "hillbillies."  However, around the turn of the twentieth century, there were paper and textile industries looking for clean water, abundant forests and cheap labor as an ideal place to build mills.  Pigeon Ford (later named Canton) of Haywood Country was just such a place for Ruben B. Robertson, the founder of Champion Paper and Fiber.  In Canton, he discovered an abundance of timber on the surrounding mountains, clean water in the beautiful Pigeon River, and plenty of men who were desperate for work.

The town of Canton was where I lived from infancy until the age of thirteen.  My family then moved to a community close by called Bethel; the people of this area were mill workers, as well.  In summation, I think it could be honestly said that I grew up in a "mill town," very much like any found in the northeast - and not so very remote, backwards, deprived, or impoverished as those who truly lived off the Appalachians.  The lives of the farmers and mountain people were hard and required all members of a family to work.  The mill child had certain advantages in that the father became the main bread winner which thus allowed the children a childhood, of sorts - school, friends, and time to study, time to play.

However, my heritage, that of my father, specifically, hailed from further back in the mountains than Canton.  I am a descendant of the Cable family that is listed among the original settler of Cades Cove, part of the Great Smokey Mountain National Park.  From Cades Cove, my great-great-great grandfather, Samuel Cable and his family, made their way over the high Appalachian ridge from Cades Cove into Hazel Creek, known as Proctor, NC.  Samuel Cable was the second settler in that area, the first being Moses Procter for whom the area was named.

My father was born in Proctor in 1922; his elder and younger brothers were born there, as well.1

In the late 1800's, the Ritter Lumber Company opened in Proctor and became the main source of employment.  In the following three decades, all of the virgin forest had been cut and shipped out by Ritter; the pristine environment of Proctor was stripped of all trees of value.  In 1924, when Ritter Lumber Company closed its doors, unemployment for those who had relied on the company was a sudden reality.2  News that Champion Paper and Fiber Company in Canton was hiring bought out of one of the most beautiful places in the South Eastern America to the mill town of Canton in Eastern Haywood County; indeed, whole communities had to migrate to whatever hiring opportunity was to be had, regardless of the distance.

Champion Papers was completed in 1904.  It has been the major employer for the area from that time until the present, even though the company has changed hands in ownership.  Too, the factory itself has faced closure due to pollution regulations and/or flooding.

The original Champion Paper and Fiber Company provided a company store for the employees.  There was also employee housing, called Fiberville, adjacent to the mill (over the years Fiberville had been flooded by the Pigeon River the small community was completely destroyed in the floods of 1008 and was no longer inhabitable).  In 1928, my grandfather was "hired on" at Champion.  He moved his growing family into one of the employee houses in Fiberville and used the company store to clothe and feed his children.  My father remembered often how his father came home on paydays with less than a nickel as his wages for the week.  This meager show of pay was due to my grandfather's dependence on the company store.  Rent, too, was taken for the housing provided by the company.

My father, as did seven of his brothers and one sister, worked at the Champion mill.  Their employment began, for the most of them, just after they graduated from Canton High School.  My grandparents, impoverished as they were as they were, agreed and promised each other that all of their eleven children would graduate from high school.  This goal was proudly achieved in 1961 as the youngest of the family, Ben, received his diploma; afterwards he went directly to work for "the company" as Champion came to be known by all who worked there.

My mother was an only child; her mother and father were from farming families of the area generally known as Leicester, near family, while my grandfather sent money home to provide for them.  They were never in one house for any great length of time but moved from one small rental house to another throughout the area as they would find a less expensive place to rent.

My parents met  in church; Charles began "courting" Javena within weeks of first being introduced to her.  She was thirteen; my father was seventeen.

As World War II began, my father and two of his brothers were drafted out of the mill work into the Army Air Corp.  Later a younger Cable brother joined the Navy as soon as he was of age.  My parents were married in the summer of 1943, while Dad was on leave from the service.  Mother was seventeen; she had just graduated from  high school.  Dad was 21.

In 1945 my Dad ended his service in the Army Air Corp where he had served as a mechanic for planes (always stateside; he did not have to serve overseas).  He returned to Canton, to a small house built for him by my father, he returned to his new wife and two small children, he returned to work for the company.

Both my parents were from very religious families.  They remained religious all their lives.  My father became a Missionary Baptist minister when I was ten years old.  However, he continued his full time employment at Champion, as well.

My old siblings, Sandra and Ray, were born in 1944 and 1945 respectively.  I was born in 1949.  Ray fell victim to rheumatic fever and died in 1950.  Two other brothers followed; Grover in 1952 and Ed in 1954.  Our family continued to live in the small house built by my grandfather, on top of a hill just west of Canton; Mingus Hill.  The measurement of the original house was   24' x 24' - this was eventually expanded as was needed by the growing family.

The house faced east, toward Canton, toward the expanding paper mill.  Our "picture" window was filled with the view of the paper plant, from left to right and almost all the way to the top edge.  There was a beautiful view of the distant mountains by that view was just at the top edge of the window.

The mill dominated our lives in various ways; a soaring whistle sounded at 7 AM, marking the time for the day shift; it sounded at twelve noon, for the midday meal; it sounded at 5 PM, quitting time for the day shift.  The roaring noise could be heard for miles.  People set their watches and clocks by it.  All the local schools could hear the mill whistle.  Aside from church, the mill was the center of our lives.

Growing up within sight of the Champion Paper mill, the smell of the industry was inescapable.  I deeply permeated all the environs of Canton.  As we lived on a hill just to the west of Champion, we were especially vulnerable to the soot and aerial pollution.  When mother washed our clothes and hung them outside on a line to dry, she brought them in as soon as she could to minimize the mill's odor.

The smell of the paper mill was not quite so noticeable unless we were out of town for a few days and then returned.  My sister and I had the great fun in summer of spending a week or two with our grandparents in Brevard.  When we would return to Canton and rounded the hill to re-enter the town, we were shocked at the hideous odor.  If there were people who complained of the smell, the golden reply from local workers would be "it smells like bread and butter to me."

As a child, looking at the Champion mill from the view we had on Mingus Hill, only two miles distance, I would watch in fascination the stream, vapors, and smoke that came from its inner workings.  The mill had a tall chimney with the word :Champion" painted vertically down its length.  I could not understand what this vast structure was or what it did.  I knew that my father worked there; that's how he made money.  At night, from out picture window, to my child's eyes the behemoth of a factory seemed like a magic, puffing beast brightly lit; vapors smoke and steam being akin to a dragon, watching it was like watching something unreal and fantastic.  At a very early age, I taught myself to blur my eyes when I saw this view.  This made it even more fantastical, especially at night it became softened and like a dream.

I knew that this factory produced paper; Champion was a paper mill that made reams of paper - stacks and stacks of it.  In our house, as was true of most of the community around "the company," no family who had a mill worker ever lacked for an abundance of white 8 1/2" x 11" pieces of paper.  Out household was blessed with lots of paper for which I saw only one purpose: a piece of paper was a surface upon which to draw a picture.

I began drawing with my older sister's pencils and crayons when I was four.  My first drawings were of the usual child-type: a house with windows and chimney with smoke and coming up from it, a walkway, a yard, trees, flowers, people and dogs in the yard, a blue sky that skirted the uppermost area of the drawing and a sun to the left, shining with linear rays.  But there was no particular drawing I did over and over, even though I was only five.  Somewhere, perhaps in a magazine (we did not have a television until I was five; it was black and white with a selection of only two channels) I saw a picture of a desert island in the South Pacific.  The water was a blue green with small waves washing against a white beach.  Palm trees or coconut trees lined the shore.  I was a scene of perfect serenity.  And, there were no people there.

I drew this scene many different times for my own satisfaction; to pretend that I was there in that place of pristine beauty and solitude.  These drawings of a far away isle were a favorite of my mother's, as well.  A homemaker with four children, ages one to eleven, I think she saw in the drawings the quietness and beauty I wanted to see for myself.

The Haywood school system had no art education as a part of its curriculum.  There were no museums of any type near where I lived.  My father was the driver of the family we had only one car.  He had two weeks of vacation per year that he spent on fishing trips to Lake Fontanna.  Thus there were no family trips planned to visit Washington D.C., where we children longed to go.  I do not believe I saw a real painting until an art education program was introduced in my last year of high school.

However, via television and some few movies that I was privileged to see in the small theatre in Canton, I did know about animation.  Via the television, the morning cartoons were a special part of our day.  We would watch as many as could before we had to go to school.  These cartoons were of the old school: Fritz Lang, Warner Brothers, Max Fleischer, Walter Lantz, Leon Schlesinger, Dave Fleisher, Paul Terry.  These were the artists who brought magic and humor into our daily lives.  First and foremost of my favorites, however, was Walt Disney.  I was blessed to have had his early and (then) contemporary work as a part of my  childhood.

There was a weekly show called "Disneyland;" five days a week, just after getting home from school, we would watch "The Mickey Mouse Club,"  This children's program would feature a Disney cartoon in its "Mouse Cartoon Time."  All of Walt Disney's features were beautiful and enchanting, filled with humor, hope, promise, and always a happy ending.  I was held in awe at the beauty of his feature length animation films - "Snow White", "Bambi," :Cinderella."  On the Sunday evening weekly show, Disney would present educational films - about wildlife, about industry.  But one of the most fascinating for me was the episode when Disney explained his process of animation - its history and how it was done.  As an introduction to some of to some of his animated features, he presented the image of a brush, animating it so that it moved freely across a canvas; it gave the impression that from the tip of the brush there flowed freely the visions imagined by the artist.  It seem ed that the brush had an imagination of its own - and there was no requirement of it by to move and, then, life, itself, came into being.  How I envied that brush.

And then there were comic books and the Sunday morning funny papers.  When I would go to town with my mother while she spent time looking for sundries in Davis's Five and Ten Cent Store, I would find the rack of comic books.  Upon finding one of Walt Disney's characters, such as Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse, or Uncle Scrooge, I would take it from the rack and tuck myself away, out of sight, so that I could read it.  The chances were that mother would not purchase it for me because we couldn't afford such "extras."  So I would read as much as I could of the comic book.  I would try to stay hidden away in a little nook, so as not to be seen by the store's clerk.  When mother finished her shopping there and appeared at the check-out, I reluctantly returned to the comic book to the rack.

The Sunday morning comics went first to Dad; no questions asked.  After he finished them, it was open warfare among four children at the breakfast table.  But, since we were frequent church goers, we would sometimes have to wait until Sunday afternoon to get to read "Terry and the Pirates," "lil' Abner," "Peanuts," "Gasoline Alley," "Rex Morgan," "Mark Trail," "Beetle Bailey," "Snuffy Smith," and "Mary Worth."  Some of these would disappear, other, new ones would take their place.  

Although I was thoroughly seduced by animation, be it comic strip or feature length film, I did not try to copy or draw any of them.  The subject matter of my drawings tended to be simple landscapes, household objects, and imaginary people.  In school I was the one always chosen to make posters, bulletin boards, or do any art work that was required for projects.  Often teachers allowed me to compensate my grades by doing art work for them.

Thus, from the age of four and all through my primary and secondary education, I was the artist.  I knew that I would apply to a college and become an art major.  All of this I simply took as "my calling."  I never questioned that I should follow this path and I never thought of following any other profession than that of being an artist.  My humble naivety must be excused.  As I said, I was following the path of my heart - planning on making a career of that which I loved to do.  Little did I know anything of the contemporary world of art.  I now marvel that I continued on with my passion not having visited a museum - the images with which I was most familiar were those from a very few books about art history - those, of course were pictures on a page."


Bibliography Padgett, Bill. Paper Mansions. Bright Mountain Books, 1985

Moore, Bill.  Two on the Square. Illustrated by Diane Cable, Asheville, NC:  Bright Mountain Books.

Series 1 Sketchbooks and Journals
M2010.04.01 1 Sketchbook  1965 (in process)  
M2010.04.05 2 Sketchbook -1972  (in process)  
M2010.04.01 3 Sketchbook - 1973 (selected images)
The drawings in this journal still hold the heavy influence of Tucker Cooke's work, but, at the same time, I find that I was experimenting with images, looking deeper into my own identity and making an effort at trying to be honest with what I found there. I think that some of the images cry to become pieces of sculpture. But, as a post graduate, I could only afford the sketch journal and the pencil. Sculpture requires so much more that is physical and material.

M2010.04.05 4 Sketchbook - 1975 (in process)  
M2010.04.01 5 Sketchbook - 1976 (all images)

In the summer of [1976] I made my first trip abroad - to Europe, to Italy; the first of many trips I would make in the future.

When I made this first trip, I had absolutely no money.  My first year of graduate study at the University of Georgia was just finished.  But, through the encouragement of fellow students who had made the trip the previous summer, I was convinced I had to try to make the "journey."  I asked my parents for the money.  Having sent both of my brothers on a European excursion when they were in high school, my parents felt it only fair that they should send me, a graduate student in art, to Europe as well.

 cabl_1976_0001.jpg (374681 bytes)

M2010.04.01 6 Sketchbook - 1976 (in process)  
M2010.04.05 7 Sketchbook - 1976 (in process)  
M2010.04.01 8 Sketchbook -  1976-1977 (in process)  
M2010.04.05 9 Sketchbook - 1977 (in process)  
M2010.04.01 10 Sketchbook - 1978 (in process)  
M2010.04.02 11 Sketchbook - 1978 -79 (all images)
     -- Athens, Georgia
     -- Rides on buses to Salisbury, NC
     -- Patients in rest home
     -- Self portraits

cabl_1978-79_front_cover.jpg (335417 bytes)

M2010.04.05 12 Sketchbook - 1979 (in process)  
M2010.04.02 13 Sketchbook - 1979 (in process)  
M2010.04.02 14 Sketchbook - 1980 (in process)


M2010.04.02 15 Sketchbook - 1980 (in process)  
M2010.04.02 16 Sketchbook - 1980 - 1981 (selected images)

This sketch book represents images from two very important years.  In 1980, I returned to graduate school at the University of Georgia to complete my MA in Art History.  In July of 1980, I met Eric Head.  Eric was my brother's apartment mate in Asheville.  He had just been newly hired at Champion Papers where my dad and uncles had worked and some still worked there.  Eric was from New Hartford, NY and a recent graduate of Syracuse...

M2010.04.02 17 Sketchbook - 1981 (selected images)

Most of the entries in this journal are ideas for commercial work: menus, signs, t-shirts.  There are only a few "life observations" and, what I will call "visions."

mod_cabl_1981_0001.jpg (279803 bytes)

M2010.04.02 18 Sketchbook - 1981 (in process)  
M2010.04.05 19 Sketchbook - 1984 (selected images)

This sketch book is from the summer of 1984. It was purchased at the beginning of the summer in Florence; at the small art supply store about two blocks from the North crossing of the cathedral. I waited until I got to Florence to purchase the sketch book because I knew I would get a book of the top quality with the best quality of paper  ...

cabl_1984_0001.jpg (606044 bytes)

M2010.04.03 20 Sketchbook -1984 (in process)  
M2010.04.03 21 Sketchbook -1984 (in process)  
M2010.04.03 22 Sketchbook - 1985 (in process)  
M2010.04.03 23 Sketchbook  1985 (all images)

 This sketch book dates to the summer and fall of 1985. I was again hired as a program assistant to the University of Georgia Arts Study Abroad Program. This year I planned to stay for the summer session and to remain for the first fall session the program featured.  This sketch book covers the time of the summer and fall sessions.

cabl_1985_0001.jpg (541649 bytes)

M2010.04.03 24 Sketchbook  1985  (in process)  
M2010.04.03 25 Sketchbook - 1986  (in process)  
M2010.04.03 26 Sketchbook - 1987  (in process)  
M2010.04.05 27 Sketchbook - 1988 - 1989 (selected images)

In this sketchbook are ideas for paintings, figure studies writing entries, done backwards (I don't know what I've written; I've not tried to read it) and, uniquely, several pornographic entries.  These drawings were an emotional experience; the direct result of loneliness and frustration.  Again, I've never had a barrier of "what should or should not be drawn" when it comes to my sketchbooks.  When I did these specific sexual images, they were reflective of sexual fantasy.  I did them, wondering if they would be a kind of fulfillment to the frustrating loneliness that was my daily lifestyle.  And, no; they weren't.  They ended up being a kind of "flash in the pan," as it were and, overall, a kind of cheap, shallow feeling stole over me as I looked back on them some few days later.  I have done nothing like them since.

M2010.04.04 28 Sketchbook - 1992 (selected images)

Herein are ideas for paintings; the presentation of two complete paintings on the same surface: a duality.  This was an idea with which I experimented off and on for many years.

cabl_1992_0001.jpg (1871458 bytes)

M2010.04.04 29 Sketchbook - 1992 (in process)  
M2010.04.04 30 Sketchbook - 1993 [large] (selected images)

This sketchbook, in particular, concentrates on the designs and development of a painting, a singular painting.  I had been invited to be a participant in an exhibition that would have in the small gallery on the lower level of the Metropolitan Opera in the city. 

There were seven artist chosen.  The stipulation was that each painting had to be about a specific opera.  I chose "Othello" by Giuseppe Verde.  Now I confess here and now that then I knew nothing about opera.  I knew of no one particular artist or work.  But with such an opportunity, I set myself about the task immediately.  Giuseppe Verde's "Othello" was my choice.  I had it memorized within a month.  I played it over and over  over in my studio, in my car, at home. I reread the original Shakespeare and did the same with Giuseppe Verde's libreto.

All of this I accompanied with ongoing ideas and designs for the painting.

Aside from the studies, there are other observations, ideas, and sketched.

The basis for another painting is part of this sketch book as well.  The piece was entitled "Staten Island Alterpiece."  The piece is based, roughly, on Giorgione's "Sanso Pulcro Madonna."

cabl_1993la_001.jpg (1860035 bytes)

M2010.04.04 31 Sketchbook - 1993 (selected images)

With my left hand, then, in 1993, I started the first of several starts of [that] childhood story. 

This sketchbook, too, shows entries that reflect visits to galleries in the city.  I always tried to take visual notes of pieces of work that impressed me, or, to say M had a powerful impression on me.  Good or bad.  Paul Trajman had a powerfully good impression on me.

M2010.04.04 32 Sketchbook - 1996 (in process)  
M2010.04.05 33 Sketchbook - 1997 (in process)  
M2010.04.04 34 Sketchbook - 1999 (in process)  
M2010.04.05 35 Sketchbook - 2001 (selected images)

In October of 2001 I bought this small sketch book to take with me on a birding trip to Veracruz, Mexico.  My birding mentor, Sara Ann Joselson, asked some months earlier if I would accompany her on a trip sponsored by Hawk Mountain, PA.  The trip would last ten days altogether, the group would be comprised of expert birders, a dozen, altogether, from various places in the US.  What an opportunity and it was one of the most memorable experiences of my life.  Unfortunately this sketch book is not directly reflective of this fantastic experience.  I took a camera.  And, unfortunately, a camera is quite detrimental to the direct drawing experience.  But how could there be any argument when it comes to the convenience of image making when it can be made so easily, so quickly.  Nontheless, the few drawing notations here suffice.  The bird trip was on the move constantly.  We were up and on our small van/bus at 4am(!) each morning, in order to get a special species of birds (the great Todi, for example) and we were not back in our hotel rooms until quite late and after we were quite exhausted.

cabl_2001_cover.jpg (555858 bytes)

M2010.04.05 36 Sketchbook - 2001, small (in process)  
M2010.04.05 37 Sketchbook - 2002 - 2003 (selected images)

This Sketchbook, along with several others, then, is reflective of transitions which were altogether not without pain..

Note here: some of the wild attack drawings with ball point pen were done by Francis Chang, one of the children for whom I acted as Nanny.  Again, another book with numerous chapters could be written about this experience.

cabl_2002_0015.jpg (484818 bytes)

M2010.04.05 38 Sketchbook - 2003 (in process)  
M2010.04.05 39 Sketchbook -2007 (in process)  
OS2010.04.01-5   Journal Pictorial. Giornale da Cortona Stilografica. Large, 36" x 24" folded rag paper sheet. Pen and ink.  A sequential graphic novel of Cable's travel in Italy in1976.  Includes CD of single images.  
Series 2 Publications

PN6162 .M63 1986  




F264.B57 P33 1986
Spec Coll

1 Moore, Bill.  Two on the Square. Illustrated by Diane Cable, Asheville, NC:  Bright Mountain Books.

Bill Moore, the author wrote a Saturday column for the Asheville Citizen Times newspaper.  Here he writes about Lonzo and The Pundit, two derelicts who share time on the benches of Pack Square where they swap "answers to burning questions."


Padgett, Bob. Paper Mansions. Bright Mountain Books, 1986 [no copy]


Top of document

[Home]  [Ramsey Library]  [UNCA]