“Keeping the Tradition,” oil paintings by Haines artist Donna Catotti, is available for viewing from Friday, September 2, 2016 to Sunday, October 2, 2016 during normal Gallery hours. Please not that occasionally the Gallery is rented for private conferences and may be unavailable temporarily.
As a young child, I admired William Adolphe Bouguereau’s classical painting, “Nymphs and Satyr”, at the Sterling Clark Museum in my father’s hometown. This large intoxicating painting mesmerized and inspired me, and I, a paint-by-number kid, wished I could paint like that. I have never lost my fascination with this particular artist, his classical skills, or with the portrait/figure genre.
I think the need to create is something inherent in an artist’s personality. We are not born with talent, but must develop it. In my college years, it was not possible to learn traditional classical skills within the university system. I was told if I wanted to learn to draw, I should study in architecture school, which I did, graduating with a Bachelor of Design in 1973. Soon after college I realized that learning classical skills was a lifetime proposition and that I must make my living painting, if I wanted enough time to develop my skills accordingly.
Some ask why keep with tradition, saying that representational, classical art is old-fashioned, not innovative or creative. The artistic skills heralded in the Renaissance, were pooh-poohed in the twentieth century, and almost lost to humankind. The art critics convinced the public that abstract and avant-garde were the only worthwhile forms of expression for the new era. Yet Picasso was classically trained before he went on to create the works he is better known for. How can an artist choose innovation if he doesn’t have the basic skills necessary to explore ALL the choices? Fortunately, in the twenty-first century we are seeing an explosion of atelier-type art schools. Luckily for me, it is never too late to learn more, through workshops, museums, and conferences, activities I am currently engaging in.
Standing at my easel, I work to satisfy only myself, not an easy task. In each of my figurative works, I hope to portray some depth of human character and emotion that transcends the individual portrayed. In my landscapes I hope to capture and share the beauty of nature, in hopes that we can preserve these landscapes for future generations. When others viewing my work find meaning, pleasure, or inspiration to take away with them, then I have succeeded in my efforts.