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Artist draws on her faith to lift her works


ART DISPLAY: Catholic artist Diane Lehman shows one of the Last Supper paintings that she has made through her business, Murals by Diane. (Credit: Courtesy Diane Lehman)

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SAN DIEGO — If you’ve been out and about in San Diego, you might already be familiar with Catholic artist Diane Lehman’s work.

Her murals can be found at Father Joe’s Villages, various Catholic schools, local businesses, and even private homes.

Many happy customers have purchased her renditions of the Last Supper, or have commissioned her to reproduce a favorite family photo as a one-of-a-kind painting.

On Thursday, June 6, Lehman will lead an art workshop for fellow young adults. It will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. at St. Gregory the Great Parish in Scripps Ranch. The 34-year-old muralist will guide participants in painting a patron saint of their choosing on a small canvas — similar to the kind that she sells through her custom painting business, Murals by Diane.

“Everyone can take it home and have a little reminder (of their Catholic faith) to put on their mantel or on their bedside table,” said Lehman, who attends St. Mary Magdalene Parish with her husband, Billy, and their three children: Rosie, William and Marie.

The upcoming event is the latest installment of “The Guild,” a workshop series sponsored by the diocesan Office for Youth and Young Adult Ministry.

Evelyn Beale, one of the office’s associate directors, explained that The Guild “explores the intersection of art and faith.”

“These interactive events include community-building with young adults from all over the Diocese of San Diego, a presentation or witness from the featured artist, and a hands-on apprenticeship workshop where young adults can personally explore the artform,” she said.

Past installments have included presentations by Clare McCallan on spoken-word poetry and Kaylee Toole on photography.

Previously demonstrated artistic talent is not a prerequisite to participate in the workshop.

Beale said, “These evenings are designed to connect all young adults to art and their faith, whether they’re pros or have never picked up a paint brush in their lives.”

“Anyone can be an artist,” she said. “Our hope is that these low-barrier events give young adults the chance to try something new and explore a new aspect of their spirituality in community.”

A native San Diegan, Lehman attended the School of the Madeleine and the Academy of Our Lady of Peace (OLP). It was during her high school years, when she was among a small number of students admitted into a selective AP Studio Art class, that she realized her artistic talent.

Lehman earned her bachelor’s degree at the Catholic University of America, where she majored in Architecture and minored in Art, in 2012. Three years later, she received a master’s degree in Project Management for Architecture at La Salle Campus Barcelona.

She taught AP Art History and Intro to Architecture at OLP from 2015 to 2019, the year that she had her first child and founded Murals by Diane.

Lehman has painted murals at various locations around San Diego, including Holy Trinity School, Sacred Heart School (Ocean Beach), St. Charles School, St. Didacus School, and the School of the Madeleine.

At St. Didacus School, she painted a floral-themed mural at the entrance to the preschool building, as well as another in the alley that bisects the campus. The latter includes the words of the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Her mural at St. Charles School includes images of five purported Marian apparitions, identified by dates and locations and connected by a strand of white roses. She also painted colorful maps of the U.S. on the playgrounds of Holy Trinity School and the School of the Madeleine.

Other murals can be seen at Pediatric Dentistry of San Diego and Humble Farmer Brewing Co.

Lehman also creates custom paintings on canvas. A popular one has been her depiction of the Last Supper, sketched from Leonardo Da Vinci’s famous painting but presented in what she describes as “a modern minimalist style” of her own, adorned with gold leaf accents and often with a color scheme uniquely matched to each client’s home.

She said that clients have told her that the artwork has provided “a good opportunity for evangelization,” as visitors to their homes often remark upon what they recognize as a reimagined version of Leonardo Da Vinci’s classic painting.

It was one of her Last Supper paintings that first brought Lehman to the attention of the Office for Youth and Young Adult Ministry.

“One of the local young adults in our community won one of these beautiful paintings in a fundraising event at their parish and sent me (Lehman’s) Instagram account,” said Beale. “Our office was so impressed with her talent and creativity, but also with her strong Catholic identity, and we knew she would be a great fit for this event.”

In addition to the Last Supper paintings, Lehman also creates “mini-saints” paintings, like those that she will be teaching the workshop participants to make. She estimates that, since last Christmas, she made about 200 of them as stocking-stuffers and, recently, has been making more as confirmation gifts.

Painted on 4-inch by 4-inch canvases, she said, they represent a Western adaptation of iconography. She said the small paintings, adorned with gold leaf, have “more of a modern style than traditional Eastern icons.”

Reflecting on why art is important, Lehman said, “I think that’s our job as Catholics, to try to bring beauty to the world. So that’s what I’m trying to do, just to make things look better than how we found them, and just to improve the space, because it will improve the experience of everyone that enters the space.”

‘Patron Saints: Art + Faith’ Workshop
An art workshop led by Diane Lehman will be held from 7 to 9 p.m., Thursday, June 6, at St. Gregory the Great Parish in Scripps Ranch. The cost is $25 per person and includes art supplies, as well as charcuterie and drinks. Register at Follow Lehman on Instagram @muralsbydiane or email her at

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