“Creativity is a magnificent gift from God. I was created to create! Painting takes me down a marvelous path of adventure and discovery. Beauty inspires me. From the simple to the complex I do my best to reveal what I see and share that with my world.”
Donna Robinson is a professional artist living in northern Virginia. Donna’s love for the arts became evident at the age of four with a passion for theater, dance, singing and fine art. Pursuing a career in liturgical fabric design and fine art she successfully created and displayed her work in over 15 states in the USA. She has traveled five consecutive years, at the invitation of the Israeli government to participate in Jerusalem at the Feast of Tabernacles. Her creations have been on exhibition in the coliseum in Italy, in Washington, DC at the Capitol, the Russell Senate Office Building Rotunda and the Patriot Center at George Mason University. More recently Donna has turned her creative energy back to her love for fine art in the area of oil painting. She has studied under many celebrated and renowned artists. Donna’s art varies from crisp realism to a soft impressionistic style. Donna has been exploring abstracted works. Her inspirational and award-winning paintings reveal the beauty in both the simple and the complex.
LSC (Loudoun Sketch Club): How would you describe your fine art printing?
DR (Donna Robinson): My primary medium is oil and believe it or not I ventured into it as a result of prayer. I had pursued singing and dance for many years and as we all discover time has a way of redirecting us, often whether we like it or not. From the very start I made a decision that is very controversial in the fine art world. I am a conqueror by nature and did not want to saddle myself in one style or genre. You will find realism, abstraction, expressionism, impressionism and even cubism in my portfolio.
LSC: What are your artistic influences, both past & present?
DR: My personal draw is to impressionism and many of the contemporary artists on today’s art scene. Too many to choose from. I love the colorists and the tonalists. Go figure. But color seems to be my greatest joy. Beautiful clean color. And I find that people are especially drawn to blues and red. Love that RED! I was determined not to have only one “niche” in which to fit and create. Presently I have been pursuing the combo of oil and ‘cold’ wax which is not toxic like encaustic. Experimentation and pushing my envelope is actually fun! I have a little voice in my head that says “I can do that”!
LSC: What special studies did you take towards that goal?
DR: Therefore, I self-directed my career by studying under and choosing those artists who could help me to get where I wanted to go, in the specific areas I wanted to learn, as fast as I could go forward. This process began in 2003. I have not regretted not having a formal art education. I can’t seem to get enough of this wonderful thing we call art.
LSC: Can you tell us about some exhibitions you have been in?
DR: I try to get my art out there into as many shows as I can handle and have recently closed my 3rd solo show. In February of this year Great Falls Living Magazine gave me a beautiful 3-page spread with a wonderfully written article by one of our own LSC members Pat Neuman. Happiness is seeing your art in print!
LSC: As a teacher, can you tell how you bring art to your students?
DR: I tell my students that I can teach you how to paint, you only need eyes, hands and the want to. What I can’t give you is PASSION. I have that in spades! I especially enjoy teaching adult students and am afforded that opportunity through the Arts of Great Falls School currently in my Basics of Oils classes. Private and semi-private students study with me in my home.
LSC: Can you tell us about the business of art?
DR: I find the ‘business of art’ tedious and frustrating which is why I’m so thankful for a patient and smart husband who keeps it all straight for me! I have no problem speaking with anyone about my work and from my experience people want to hear the story behind the result. That’s the place you connect with them and this is one of the best keys to acquiring new clients. Of course quality work is a given.
LSC: Describe your studio set up and how you work with clients.
DR: I painted faithfully and with determination in my kitchen for 13 years all the while dreaming of a studio space with walk-in traffic. The dream actualized 2 years ago and I out grew my space 5 minutes after moving in! I hang as much art in my space as possible so that my visitors can get a good feel for what I can do and peak their interest in what they may find on my website. Space is at a premium but I still manage to set up still life projects or work flatly on a table if necessary. My framing is done there and I use similar frame and color types which creates visual harmony. First impressions are very important for your potential clients. A doctor wandered into the studio last summer and in a 2-day period had purchased 13 paintings from both my studio and my website! Your website needs to be beautiful and user friendly. It pays off!
LSC: Do you have any advice to offer for those who want to start taking commissions?
DR: Last year I was approached by a patron requesting a commission and unless you are my personality type I do not recommend taking a commission the way I did. For me it was a fun challenge. They already loved my work in general and sent me off to create something that they would love! NO PRESSURE, RIGHT? Admittedly we did meet in their home for sizing, colors and styles that appealed to them. But then I was left to my own devices. The story had a very happy ending for them and a prosperous ending for me. I went so far as to paint 2 pieces that were interchangeable. They loved both and purchased both with no sales pressure from me. However, I recommend you clarify every aspect with your potential clients before you begin. Have a plan and make it clear and in writing. Assumptions inevitably happen and that can go south fast.
I will close with this quote by Makoto Fujimura…” Art is an inherently hopeful act, an act that echoes the creativity of the Creator. Every time an architect imagines a new building, an artist envisions that first stroke of a brush on a white canvas, a poet seeks a resonant sound in words, or a choreographer weaves a pause in layers of movements, that act is done in hope; the creator reaches out in hope to call the world into that creation.”
You can view a sampling of Donna’s artwork in The Artist’s Loft on the Green at 766 Walker Rd. in Great Falls, VA 22066 or visit www.donnarobinsonstudio.com