RAAC Artists’ Tour: Two tal­ented yet cre­atively di­verse Don­nas

Rappahannock News - - COUNTRYSIDE - By VeRonika Ben­son Spe­cial to the Rap­pa­han­nock News

This year, the RAAC Artists’ Tour will fea­ture two new artists, and al­though both are named Donna, they will of­fer very dif­fer­ent ex­am­ples of lo­cal tal­ent.

Donna Brune is a painter who trained in hor­ti­cul­ture, and lives on Per­sim­mon Farm with her hus­band. As a girl, Donna adored sun­sets, and be­gan sketch­ing them at a young age. The only other known artis­tic tal­ent in her fam­ily was that of her ma­ter­nal grand­fa­ther, who was a glass ar­ti­san. This is of par­tic­u­lar in­ter­est be­cause she never met the man, yet much of her work has a stained glass like­ness.

Her stu­dio re­sem­bles a small base­ment apart­ment, its sur­round­ings in­clud­ing many sam­plings of her col­or­ful art­work set amongst nat­u­ral wood. This ap­peal­ing back­drop quickly makes one forget they’re in a base­ment. A wall of win­dows al­lows sun­light to en­ter her ate­lier, en­hanc­ing al­ready abun­dant in-house light­ing which serves to il­lu­mi­nate her work area.

Donna uses dif­fer­ent sur­faces for her art, and adds tex­ture via lay­er­ing and a mix­ing of medi­ums. Her fa­vorite work is a paint­ing she cre­ated after vis­it­ing Seneca Rocks in West Vir­ginia; for this she used acrylic inks and wa­ter­color on a sur­face called Yupo, a Ja­panese pa­per made of plas­tics. To cap­ture ideas, she takes a great deal of pho­tos; she does not how­ever re­fer back to a photo while paint­ing, as she wants her emo­tions (or per­haps her muse) to guide her work.

Donna gives credit for her tal­ent to two of her fa­vorite artists, Ger­ald Brom­mer and Bar­bara Nechis, un­der whom she stud­ied. You’ll find the col­ors and tex­tures in this artist’s works ex­tra­or­di­nary, and her ex­pla­na­tions on tech­nique fas­ci­nat­ing. On Saturday, Novem­ber 4th, she will demon­strate how to cre­ate prints with­out a press, us­ing gel plates. And on Sun­day, the 5th, she will of­fer a sec­ond demon­stra­tion on work­ing with wa­ter­col­ors.

The other new artist, Donna La Pre, works in an open, airy stu­dio where scarves of var­i­ous muted col­ors flow over a sim­ple screen. These hand­dyed beau­ties com­bine with hang­ing wo­ven vine sculp­tures, nat­u­ral wood shelves, and ex­posed beams to pro­vide visitors with the sense of stand­ing at a clear­ing in the forest while en­robed in lux­u­ri­ous silk.

Donna uses all-nat­u­ral dyes to cre­ate the scarfs, as well as her del­i­cately crafted pan­els (45” x 72”). The man­ner in which her di­aphanous, hand-sewn pan­els in­ter­act with light and move­ment is ex­quis­ite. One of these or­ganza pan­els flut­ters aside a sim­ply-clothed bed, beck­on­ing guests to lie down and read po­etry. It’s im­por­tant to Donna that her art of­fer more than just an ephe­meral en­counter; she hopes her work will pro­vide a fully sen­sual ex­pe­ri­ence that is both last­ing

and re­new­able.

Donna uses el­e­ments of the Earth in most of her work, and truly en­joys in­cor­po­rat­ing the myr­iad of of­fer­ings Mother Na­ture pro­vides. She takes pride in us­ing all­nat­u­ral and or­ganic con­tent, and is un­com­pro­mis­ing when it comes to qual­ity. The ethos of her for­mer life in the fash­ion and re­tail in­dus­try per­sists in Donna’s con­tem­po­rary work, which is at once la­bor-in­ten­sive and di­vinely imag­i­na­tive. Donna learned to sew at the age of five, and plans to dis­play her metic­u­lously hand-sewn and em­broi­dered ‘Fairy­tale To­kens’ dur­ing the tour. There are Pocket Princesses, Mag­i­cal Abodes, Ja­panese Good Witches (Onna-Mak­ouT­sukai), and Fairies.

“I just wanted to em­broi­der tiny me­men­tos of mag­i­cal worlds,” Donna ex­plains. “Be­cause they're so small, they're pri­vate and make you slow down to take in the de­tail.” It takes her two full days to craft one these Lil­liputian ren­der­ings, which can be held in the palm of your hand. One of the Mag­i­cal Abodes, a tiny thatched house, was en­dear­ingly named “The Love Shack.”

Donna also man­ages to sus­tain a bio­dy­namic gar­den on her prop­erty, and mar­kets her var­i­ous works on­line, and at the Village Market in Lit­tle Washington and at the Christ­mas in Lit­tle Washington event.

DONNA LA PRE “I just wanted to em­broi­der tiny me­men­tos of mag­i­cal worlds.”

DONNA BRUNE “Fire and Ice,” a mono-print us­ing acrylic paints on a gel plate.

Donna La Pre in her stu­dio, where she uses all-nat­u­ral dyes to cre­ate scarfs and del­i­cately-crafted hand-sewn pan­els.

PHO­TOS BY VERONIKA BEN­SON

Donna Brune uses dif­fer­ent sur­faces for her art, and adds tex­ture via lay­er­ing and a mix­ing of medi­ums. Her fa­vorite work, inset, is a paint­ing she cre­ated after vis­it­ing Seneca Rocks in West Vir­ginia.

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