Donna was born in Queens, New York and got a degree in history. She later studied metal arts at the Oregon School of Arts and Crafts which led from making custom jewelry to a business rebuilding and restoring Pontiac GTOs. She still loves working with metal and currently works on welding steel sculpture when she isn’t painting. She divides her time between her homes in Hilo and Portland, Oregon.
Donna began by painting horses in 1996, another passion of hers. She started doing landscapes to provide backgrounds for the horses and found that she liked painting landscapes as much as she liked painting horses.
While she is not strictly a plein air painter, she finds out-door work essential to capturing the nuances of color and light that a camera just can’t reproduce. Sometimes she does a quick study in oil on location, and when time is limited she does a small pencil sketch with detailed notes and diagrams indicating colors and values, always keeping in mind what struck her about the scene. She supplements the notes with photographs and works out her final composition in the studio.
Donna first visited the Big Island in 1978, and that experience began a lifelong fascination with the volcano region. She finds “a unique rhythmic beauty” in the lava fields that “are a constant reminder that the earth is a living entity.” She says, “I love painting because of the constant challenge it offers: To translate something that was originally experienced with all five senses to a purely visual context and still make it feel real. I hope that people will have a sense of recognition, maybe of a place or an emotion, when they see my work. That through my eyes, they can share my vision.”