Photo Credit: Linda Edge-Dunlap
I was recently given the honor of presenting an artist award for the online exhibition HerStory 2017 Art Exhibition, curated by Renee Phillips, Director of Manhattan Arts International.
The show promotes outstanding women artists, and was on view from April 27, 2017 through June 27, 2017, and featured 63 selected artists.
For my award, the main criteria for me was to select a painting that showed innovative painting techniques and playful experimentation. In addition to this I was seeking work that I felt was visually engaging, using contemporary design, and offered a uniquely personal story, situation or viewpoint. I found all of these in abundance in Donna Gilllispie’s painting Lake View No. 1 shown in full at the top of this article.
I was impressed by the painting’s eye catching and riveting appeal and its epic mural size of four feet by twelve feet. Lake View No. 1 is a satellite view of Table Rock Lake, at the intersection of three rivers, located close to where the artist lives, and a place she frequents. The idea of the lake is imaginatively abstracted, and Donna succeeded in capturing the wide variety of colors she sees at the lake. From the sunsets through the four seasons, the work’s color palette reflects its shifting moods. On the far left are the colors for winter, then moving to the right is spring, summer then fall.
This detail gives us a hint of Donna’s passion and expertise with her use of mediums. Using an incredible range of materials Donna pulls them altogether in a cohesive and rich display. Materials include metal leaf (gold, copper, silver and variegated), watercolor, acrylic paints, gold leaf flakes, wood panels, acrylic gels and mediums, glass beads, paper. Watercolor paper is stretched first then woven to form the visible grid design in this giant painting collage. The two bands of color on the top and bottom are made with rice paper. Elsewhere in the work Donna uses tissue paper with gesso to texturize underneath the leaf. Smooth areas contrast texture, warm contrasts cool, and the woven paper grid expertly mimics the grid of the square leaf pieces, and mosaic use of multiple wood panels. Donna uses Fibonacci number proportions to create the swirl shape of the rivers. This painting is a rich mix of creativity, thought, technique and playful experimentation.
About artist Donna Gillispie
Inspired by a childhood love of painting, Donna obtained a Fine Arts degree from Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri. Since, she has consistently studied the arts through a lifetime of books, museums, and working alongside several nationally known artists. She particularly enjoys studying the Old Masters, with them finding a very effective way to learn about historic procedures, techniques and expressive content. While her paintings are often representational, Donna starts each one with an abstract design pattern. The compositions then evolve instinctively and are essentially arranged by putting together those shapes and designs which are related and connected to each other. She is often drawn to unusual perspectives and imagery. She also feels a painting can be a powerful tool of communication, invoking a plea to the viewer to join her in caring deeply about a subject. The area lakes near her home, have profoundly influenced her recent works, as she celebrates them with the joy of painting through color, form, and texture.
More of Donna’s work
complete guide to acrylic painting