Little Rock’s Pleasant Ridge Shopping Center is home to a unique local treasure: Art Group Gallery. Founded and operated by area artists, it is a true working gallery where area artists have a studio to paint and can display their works to sell in the front of the shop. Follow along as we feature different artists who share the inspiration and stories behind a few of their pieces. | Sponsored Content
“I began painting in watercolor nine years ago fulfilling a lifelong desire to follow in my artist grandmother’s footsteps. Although I have no formal art training, I have taken short workshops with some of the nation’s foremost watercolorists and with few exceptions have incorporated what I’ve learned into my own pieces. In my opinion—and I’m sure there may be some argument here—watercolor is an incredibly flexible medium, and I have enjoyed stretching the boundaries with poured watercolor where no brush is used to manipulate the pigments and with a technique incorporating an atomizer, a small tube through which paint is manually blown to create texture and depth. Because I’m such a newcomer to the art scene I feel that I’m still in the exploration phase and my work is constantly evolving.”
My husband and I visited a local diner where I became more intrigued with their antiques collection than the food! I took several photos and couldn’t wait to begin this one. Both of my grandmothers had beautiful collections of dishes, and this became a very sentimental piece for me.
During COVID when Oaklawn was closed to the public, I stood near the fence with my telephoto lens and shot pictures for hours. I cropped, then manipulated the photos into four levels of value and painted them in monochromatic schemes with a single spot of color. The series of six paintings has been especially popular with race fans.
After dinner at Taco Mama, a local Hot Springs Mexican restaurant, I spotted this old jukebox in the corner. The fading summer sunlight streaming through the window created fascinating light and shadow; I knew it would make for a great painting. Being a Razorback fan and enjoying the renewed excitement we have for our team, I thought coach Sam Pittman’s famous phrase was a great title for this one. Viewers with a keen eye will notice a special selection on the jukebox’s upper left-hand corner.
My husband and I have been blessed to travel to beautiful places around the world, and I’m always drawn to the stained glass of the great cathedrals, especially those that tell stories. Inspiration for this painting came from my photos from Cologne Cathedral in Cologne, Germany—the tallest twin-spired church in the world, attracting nearly 20,000 visitors a day. I had just learned the technique of atomizing and was inspired to try it on this piece. Granted, it was an ambitious project and I nearly threw in the towel several times. Persistence certainly paid off for this one. This painting was the winner of the 2020 Mid-Southern Watercolorists Gold Award.
See more of Donna’s work and learn how you can shop Art Group Gallery at artgrouparkansas.com.