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Artist on my Radar: Donna Walker — A “Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”

 

If you looked at my Instagram feed, you would find I follow almost as many artists as I do designers. Much as with decorating, where I bemoan the fact that I only have so many rooms in my home to design, with art I cry because I only have so much wall space to fill!

Whenever possible, I try to promote original art by living artists, both in my own home and in my clients.’ While it’s not always possible to fill a home with originals for budget reasons, a few choice pieces become family treasures — truly Forever Home heirlooms!

It’s been a while since I did an artist profile, and there are so many I’d like to share with you! Some of these artists may yet be “under the radar” or whose following is growing, but still have affordable options for most homeowners who want to venture into investing in original art. So, for the next few months I’ll be bringing you one artist per month. Enjoy!

 

Donna Walker: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

 

All images courtesy of Donna Walker unless noted.

 

Amy: How did you start painting?

Donna: I have loved art since elementary school and was encouraged by both of my talented grandfathers, one who drew in colored pencil as a hobby for decades, and the other who was a draftsman and engineer. My formal art education is in printmaking (Illinois Wesleyan University & University of Michigan), studying woodblock printing, and copper plate etching.

 

Amy: How did you find your signature style?

 

Donna: After getting my master’s degree, I really started playing around with paint. I painted very realistically; scenes from my travels and people, then gradually moved to simplify my compositions.

Moving to Texas from the midwest in 2000 really affected my color palette. It is sunny and bright here on most days, with vivid blue skies, and I just kept brightening my colors. Years ago, I did a plein air painting of a lake and boat dock, using only palette knives and loved the texture I could get with them, and haven’t looked back. I never use brushes anymore, and love the solid, flat colors I get.

 

"Fields of Dreams" art by Donna Walker
“Fields of Dreams”

 

My strength has been my color mixing. I could not explain what I do, but my mind swirls with choosing colors that play off each other, and I mix several colors together to achieve unique blends.

Early in my career, I worked as an assistant art conservators on huge mural projects, and part of that process is called “in-painting.” Once a painting is cleaned, the small losses have to be carefully touched up. This in-painting takes a lot of color mixing to match color to the old paint, and with a mural, it can be months and months of daily color mixing and matching, and I think I honed that skill which has enabled me to think about color in a unique way.

 

via Instagram

 

I am not the fastest painter, as I work hard on the best composition. And I use A LOT of paint to get a thick texture. A painting takes two weeks to dry!

 

Details via Instagram

 

Amy: Who are your biggest influences?
Donna: Artists I love are Édouard Vuillard,Louisa MattiasdottirNicolas De Staël, Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Cézanne, Georgia O’Keefe, Helen Frankenthaler, etc…

 

 

Amy: What does art mean to you?

 

Donna: Art can really touch someone’s heart. It is almost indefinable. You see a painting, and it inspires or reminds you of something and there is magic there. That is why some work may be perfect in every way but doesn’t move you, but the next one does.

 

I am always surprised by what people react to, which painting does the best, and why it matters to someone. I love to hear feedback from clients, it still means a lot to me. I have paintings I have bought from other artists, and these are ones I can look at day after day and year after year and still love, still feel something. You never get tired of original art. People tire of a wall color, furniture, accessories, etc, but art lasts.

 

“Home Stretch”

 

Amy: What inspires your art?

 

Donna: All kinds of landscape! I grew up in Indiana, lived throughout the Midwest, and now I’m in Texas.

 

I love to travel, and I take bits and pieces from places I have been. I used to work from photos from these trips, but now I feel I have a lot of imagery in my head, and use these memories of places to create my own landscapes.

 

A recent trip to the coast of Nova Scotia was very inspiring and I felt I was almost walking through one of my own paintings! The colors and light are just beautiful there. I think I have the farmhouses and barns embedded in my conscience and love the feeling of nostalgia they give.

 

Donna’s trip to Nova Scotia, via Instagram

 

Donna’s trip to Nova Scotia, via Instagram

 

The writer Carson McCullers has a saying:  

“We are torn between nostalgia for the familiar and an urge for the foreign & strange. As often as not, we are homesick most for the places we have never known.”

 

Though I don’t name any specific place in my paintings, people have told me my work reminds them exactly of their homes in California, Iowa, Minnesota, New England… so I think my paintings can be imagined as any place that is personal to you. 

 

Amy: Is there a particular piece of which you are particularly proud? Why? 

 

Donna: “In This Together.”  I painted it last January shortly before Covid-19 hit the US, and I think the title comes from wanting to keep a sense of community, and be neighborly. Also, I hope it conveys an undefined optimism.

 

"In This Together" by Donna Walker Art
“In This Together”
Amy: How do your collectors find you?

 

Donna: Although I have sold through galleries in that time, I have gotten a lot of clients through Etsy, where I sell my smallest paintings. I try to keep these reasonably priced for people starting to collect art, and have had many clients come back again to buy something larger. It creates my own audience, which has built gradually over the years. These small paintings sell out quickly now but I will have a new selection coming in June.

 

via Instagram

 

My Instagram account has also been a wonderful way to instantly connect with new people, other artists, and have my portfolio shown to the world.

 

Amy: Do you accept commissions? What is that process like?

 

Donna: I do accept commissions. I love doing them and creating something unique and special for a client. This year has been exceptionally busy for me with commissions. I have twelve scheduled, and also need to leave time for getting new work to my galleries, so the next opening I have is the week of July 1st.

 

Commissioned work, via Instagram

 

Most clients have a few paintings of mine that they love but which have already sold. So they let me know their preferences and I come up with something similar but unique. I recently finished a commission for a client who has a large farm in Minnesota, I did the painting in my semi abstract style but used her farmhouse and several barns as subject.

 

Amy: Where can people buy your art?

 

Donna: My works can currently be found on my website & the galleries that represent me. I sell some of my smaller works on Etsy. Clients can email me directly for commissions.

 

At the Bee Street Gallery, via Instagram

 

Currently, I do not have much inventory at the galleries, as it has been the busiest six months I have ever had! It’s wonderful to be doing something I love, that connects with people across the country, from all different backgrounds.
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And there you have it! If you’ve enjoyed this artist profile, check out these art related posts from the past:

A Simple Trick to Master Your Gallery Wall (Without Using A Single Nail)

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I’ll be  opening enrollment again for my 8-week online course “The Home Glow Method, my Step-by-Step System to Decorating Your Forever Home For Keeps” again in April.

 

See what Fall 2020 students are saying:

 

“You will more than cover the cost of the course by minimizing mistakes. Also, the access to customization options is invaluable.”

“The value I’ve gained out of the course is more than worth the cost of enrollment for sure!”

“I feel a lot more confident. Rather than doubt and frustration I know I just have to keep going and complete the plan before I buy anything. I also love thinking about decor in terms of how our home can be a support my family’s well being.”

“I have a plan!!! And I now have an understanding of what goes into a plan so I can apply the same approach to other rooms!”

 

Head to the info page for an overview and a few more testimonials from the Fall 2020 Class of The Home Glow Method. Be sure to get on the waitlist so that you don’t miss the short enrollment period!

The Home Glow Method Online Design Course for Homeowners

 

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8 thoughts on “Artist on my Radar: Donna Walker — A “Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood””

  1. Very much enjoyed this introduction to Donna Walker and her beautiful paintings! Such feelings of peace & calm as I viewed her simple, but magical style . . . a brief interlude in these complex times.

  2. I love the harmony of the colors and the balance of the compositions, especially challenging in the elongated landscapes. Such a unique style, impossible not to be attracted to these landscapes once you discover them. Thank you for sharing!

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