Off to its forever home goes “To the Rescue”.  


Purchased by a client for her son and grandson who are restoring a vintage Jeep just like it.  Always glad to see happy homes for my artwork.

Coming Home

Still wet on my easel. 

This was definitely a tough one, primarily because I did not start with a story, but rather, a beautiful piece of handmade tie-dyed paper from Nepal.

I was mesmerized by the repeating deep blue pattern on a parchment background. I knew it had to be a piece of furniture.  But what then?

I started with a pale yellow and ochre underlay and then added many layers of transparent colors.  In one of these layers, the dog appeared and I just could not cover him/her up.  I added some stencils for rugs and another chair outline which I decided should be dark blue suede but with narrow stripes of collage cut from an old painting.

But I still needed a “story” so I added a person ... really liking the abstract-ness of her/him and how the colors worked and were reflected in the painting on the wall, yet another abstract!

Collaged chairs and corrugated frame on wall painting done last.

And the story?  I added my suitcase and titled it “Coming Home”, reflecting my immense relief returning to the USA after breaking my hip in Paris last month.  After all, isn’t everyone happy to return home?  Especially if they have a wonderful pet to welcome them back! 

Acrylic collage, 30” x 24”.  $675.  Handmade paper, acrylic, pastel, crayons, chalk, graphite.

"To the Rescue"

I am especially proud of my newest piece, an 11” x 14” acrylic collage which still needs framing.

When we first arrived in Maine this past June, I saw this World War II/Korean War vintage ambulance Jeep out alongside the road at a vintage car restoration business called Twisted Metal.  I asked Frank to take a photo next time he passed by because I knew I wanted to paint it.  Here is the photo he took.  The sign in its window says 19?? and $600. The star is what captured my attention.

So this is what I first drew, then painted then collaged.  I decided to use my favorite recycled collage material:  paper towels that I’ve used to clean my brushes with.  I have so many sheets, nicely stretched out, that I have them color sorted.  Of course I had to use camouflage color for the Jeep,  but the variety of serendipitous color combinations available allowed me to play with the project as if it were a puzzle.  Thus little bits of color, yellow, lime green, pop up and darker grays, to me, indicated people inside.  Two very vintage buttons are the headlights and a corrugated coffee container is the front grill.  Of course, the star is the focal point.

My last decision making was what to paint the sky and ground.  I had started out with a grey blue sky and ochre and grey earth but I knew those were just starting points to allow me to place the vehicle.  I experimented and painted a watered down burnt orange and my most favorite paint color of them all: Quinacridone Nickel Azo Gold.  I wanted a war torn sky and I love the effect of those two washes over the grey blue underlay.  They really complement the colors in the Jeep.  

For the road, I thought MUD!  It should be muddy and very textured, where only the intrepid can go “To the Rescue!”



Tuscan Village is on the way to its forever home in Wiscasset, Maine.

Thanks to all the people who visited my pop-up gallery during the Wiscasset Art Walk. It was a wonderful night to walk about in our charming little village.


My Pop-Up - a limited engagement

 Thursday, from 5pm to 8pm, I'll be showing the fruit of my summer as part of the August Wiscasset Art Walk.  

Almost a dozen pieces, including what you might call two themes

Chairs and Towns and Villages

Please stop by 64 Main Street.  Have glass of wine and have a look! 


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New art

Greetings from somewhat cooler Maine

I am so excited about my latest abstract pieces completed after three workshops in Hilton Head on landscapes, figures and large compositions. I also worked with uber teacher/artist William Skip Lawrence for two weeks. and he featured my work on his Web site, too .

I absorbed so much from these classes and it is reflected in my new works and certainly my energy. I have completed ten (!!) large paintings in six weeks and couldn’t be more pleased.

Maine Village

Here are three “Maine Village” pieces. They are all a generous 24”x30” in acrylic, ink, chalk and crayon. (Click on the images to see larger versions.)

I start by applying an underlay of tissue paper to give dimension, texture and interest. Each is composed of many layers of translucent and opaque paints and mediums. Their incredible detail cannot be conveyed in a photo. 

I have many wonderful paint brushes but find that I can get the results that I want using paper towels and palette knives. Translucency and interest are achieved by the liberal use of water and mediums with my paints, and by wiping and scraping away to layers of color below. The nuances of color, I believe, make the paintings so much more interesting and never boring!

Each of my village paintings has a distinct personality. You can almost imagine the lives of the hardworking people living there.


Following on the idea of telling a story, I created a series of chair paintings. (Click on the images to see larger versions.)

 The first was the largest piece I’ve undertaken: 24” x 48”. It is a wonderful focal point for any room.  Not only was the size a departure for me, it is largely a monochromatic muted shade of sea foam grey.  As yet untitled, the piece features a barely-seen seated figure on a very visible chair created by collaging painted paper made using hot melted beeswax. A lot of work but I feel the effort was worth it. The figure appears to me as a grandmother bent over her knitting. What you cannot see is is the lacy texture of the knitting in her lap.

My instructor likened my second chair piece to American painter David Hockney. (I should be so lucky.) It is a very inviting easy chair with a fringy rug in front (the paper was handmade in Nepal) and a framed abstract painting on the wall. That painting was actually made from the paint splatters on my palette paper. Finally, my idea with the third piece was to make a blown up version of that abstract painting. It is another biggy,  24”x48”. Both should hang in the same room, becoming a focus of imagination and imagination.

The next four chairs are smaller paintings and invite their own stories to be told. (Click on the images to see larger versions.)

Well, this was way too much fun to paint!  

And the Skies Wept
24”x 36”
Acrylic on canvas.  Ready to hang.

I started with molding paste, crackle paste and tissue paper to provide a textured background.  Then I added bits of cheesecloth and handmade paper and a very watered-down background of paint.  

My newest find:  water soluble chalks came next.  I love them!  Wet them before and they make striking colors; wet them after and they weep wonderful striations.  

Then came Acrylic inks, crayons, graphite pencils, markers.  

Finally it was time to PAINT!  

There are layers upon layers and with each, the name changed:  first, Mineral Deposits. Then Fissures. Then Lava Flow (Frank suggested that one).

But after I put the last bits of my Sennelier oil pastels on, I decided on And the Skies Wept.

Save the Date! Painted Furniture Auction and Gala

Painted Furniture Auction and Gala

Friday, June 1, 6-9pm

At the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina

To Benefit The Literacy Center and the Hilton Head Art League


Twenty pieces of fine hardwood furniture hand painted by Hilton Head artists will be silent auctioned.  Exhibition and bidding during the week (May 28-June 1, 10am-4pm) at the Arts Center and at the Gala.  

Tickets to the Gala are $10.  Enjoy refreshments, hors d’oeuvres, live music and hear the winning bids. 

Pictured above is “And They Called Her Wild Flower”, the bench painting I contributed to the auction.  I was inspired by the fields of wild flowers at the Sea Pines Forest Preserve. 

Please come!

But, if you can’t make it, please stop by the Art Center (14 Shelter Cove Lane) during the last week of May and place a bid on any of the pieces that catch your fancy.  Or call in your bid to 843-681-5060.

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I do love painting abstract landscapes and I’LL TAKE MANHATTAN  is the largest (16” X 40”) I’ve done.  

Working with such a large canvas, I was able to make many layers of transparent colors, using paper towels and palette knives. I don’t think I even touched a paint brush for this one.  It would look great over a sofa or bed

I started and finished it during a four-week class, Abstract Focal Points, at the Hilton Head Art League. Art Cornell was the instructor. He is a terrific teacher and very active on the Hilton Head art scene.  He currently has a show at the Karis Gallery, a lovely boutique gallery featuring a half dozen artists.

Magazine profiles Donna Barnako


 Pines, the luscious new magazine on island, has tapped Donna Barnako as its Artist in Residence.

Working from her studio in the Club Course area, Donna creates in two media - collage and acrylic. The magazine article explains, “The appeal of abstract is that Donna can experiment with not only paint pigments but also with a plethora of tools and techniques.” In her collage creations, she’s able to mix collectibles with papers, paints, and even feathers.

The magazine’s writer, Justin Smith, said Donna “knew beauty when she saw (Sea Pines) and relocated to get away from real winters and real traffic.”

Click to read the article