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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

New work #1

Drb_stormwarningStorm Warning!

Dark greys, blues and a hint of lavender on this 12” x 36” seascape of a turbulent ocean.  As I painted this in many layers of overlapping translucent  colors, I kept thinking of the very old TV program “Victory at Sea”.  The three foot length of this piece lends itself nicely as a focal point above a sofa.

New work #2


Room With a View 

A major stumbling block that many artists face, or at least gets talked about a lot, is “getting stuck”.  For me that usually happens when I am halfway done with a painting and I’ve become particularly enamored of a certain area and don’t know how to move ahead.  

I recently finished a three-day mentoring workshop with a wonderful artist named Bruce Holler.  ROOM WITH A VIEW is a product of that workshop. It is my new fave.

What do I like about this one?  It has mystery, it changes each time I look at it.  It has many layers of color and is subject to the interpretation of the viewer.  As I painted it, I kept switching the orientation of the canvas until it spoke to me.  I hope it speaks to you, too! 24” x 36”.

New work #3

Drb_adriftMy new seascape painting is “Inspiration”, courtesy of Hurricane Irma.  The hurricane's storm surge flooded the ground floor of our new Hilton Head home.  
An empty boat ADRIFT in a stormy white capped sea.  24” x 24” in lovely tones of greys and buff with blue accents.


These two collages have flown to their forever homes.

They were purchased at The Artisans of McLean. I thank them for not only devoting a whole showcase up front to display my jewelry, but also venturing to take on my art.  

Still waiting "adoption":  a goat, a pig, a rooster and a kingfisher.  All at The Artisans, 1368 Chain Bridge Road (Langley Shopping Center in McLean, Virginia).  They are each $350.00. To see a larger image of better quality, click on the picture of each animal.

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MFalls.  Much more to come later.

Fish Gotta Swim

My second commission!  

It was at this month's reception for my Great Falls Library show, Pigments of My Imagination.  Sheri, one of my biggest jewelry fans said she would love if I'd make a collage of a fish or other aquatic creature for her new baby grandson.  So :) ... I did!!!!  

What fun! Fish Gotta Swim floats in brilliant primaries: red, blue and yellow mounted on a bright blue base. I knew my bright collages would appeal to little ones. This was my chance.


Grandmom Sheri is very happy. I am, too. I have created something that will live well into the future.

By the way, only one more week for my Pigments show at the Library.  Details here.

Stuck in the Polar Vortex

When it's seven degrees at 7:00am. And snow is on the way ... my thoughts turn to ... SPRING!!!

Here are four harbingers of Spring which I hope will brighten any gloomy day. 

Click for a bigger version of the image:

Each is painted with acrylics and collaged with feathers and hand-made papers (some 500 YEARS old!).

Please, please don't forget to stop by my show, Pigments of My Imagination at the Great Falls Library, 9830 Georgetown Pike. It runs thru March. 

I've somehow managed to hang 16 pieces in a very small room.  The subjects range from cowboy boots, to Maine, sneakers and dogs and all should brighten your day.  

If you're interested in purchasing  one (or all!!) of my new birds, drop me a line.

Stay warm!


My Latest, Almost Done!

How to art

15-09_04 - Donna

1.  Find very old window frame:  Check.

    Drive to Elmer's Barn in Whitefield, Maine, an hour away.  Traipse thru so much broken glass, thankful I'm not wearing sandals.  Hundreds of old window frames stored in creepy old shacks, some leaning precariously against each other.

2.  Break remaining glass out of frame (carefully!); pull out a gazillion tiny metal bits holding the glass in place:  Check.

3.  Sand frame so that paint won't flake off on nice client's Persian rug:  Check.

4.  Varnish frame:  Check.  Inside out and both sides.  Get the nooks and crannies!

5.  Paint and collage six pieces, different but similar:  Check.  (This is the hardest part!  But oh how I love putting interesting, unusual, surprising, funky, textured collage elements in each one!  It took me more than a month to get each one just right.)

6.  Varnish each piece so that it will not fade:  Check.

7.  Drill and insert hanging screws on back of frame:  Check.

8.  Using silicone cement on frame and each painting, mount into frame:  Check.

9.  Add hanging wire:  Check.

10.  Sign each piece:  Check.  Barnako!

Et voila!  "Building Bridges, Mending Fences"

Upcoming Show and New Works

I am excited and pleased to tell you that I will be participating in the Great Falls Studios Spring Show on the Green on May 30-31.  That's the last weekend in May.

We will be setting up in tents on the Great Falls Village Green and there will be a Plein Air Painting Competition going on, too. It should be quite a festive atmosphere.

I am very excited to be exhibiting some of my acrylic mixed media paintings for the very first time.  Please stop by and tell me what you think.  I am having great fun with this new medium and its possibilities.

At the same time, I have not neglected my other medium in which I feel so much more comfortable.  Below are my two newest pieces, each special in their own way.

I decided to make these pieces because I have another that I made for me and every time I wear it I receive compliments whether from checkout clerks, waitresses, friends or the aide giving me a flu shot.  

The pieces start with a base of "Faux Bone", developed by Robert Dancik, a well-known jeweler and teacher from whom I took my first faux bone class.  When textured and colored, it looks like old ivory or bone.  You need special saw blades to cut it and after extreme texturing with special files and sanders, you apply shoe polish or acrylic paint to fill in the cracks and crannies.  

That's just the beginning, however. I've added some collectible elements. 

The first, 17 Jewels features a wonderful watch interior which I obtained from Springers Jewelers in Bath, Maine.  It's a lovely old shop and looks much like it did 100 years ago (there are pictures).  

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When I went in and told them what I was doing, they gave me a treasure trove of abandoned pocket watches and parts.  To this piece's watch part, I added an extra flywheel, a carved ivory, ebony and gold cameo, a bronze coin and a lovely handmade cobalt glass bead I found at the Cumberland, Maine Craft Fair some years ago (I only bought the one bead!).

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The second piece, Cinderella, has as its centerpiece a fabulous antique Cinderella watch (Swiss made) which I've suspended using resin in an old pocket watch casing.  I cut out the faux bone so that you can see the inscription on the back of the pocket watch.

Both these pieces and many more will be available at our May 30-31 Great Falls Village Green Show.

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Finally, here is one of my new mixed-media collages that I am especially proud of:  Deux Chevaux.  My inspiration was a photo I took last year in Cucuron, France.  The title means Two Horses which, in this antique car that is no longer made, signifies that it has only two horsepower.

I don't think that running a car on two horsepower is really possible, but who's to say?  At any rate, my piece was lovingly and painstakingly collaged using acrylic skins, coffee filters, handmade paper. I even included mica so the windows look shiny and real.

Stop by and see me.  There will be at least thirty other artists participating in what should be a fun occasion.