Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Inspired to Scrap with Donna Downey

Lizzy Hill for Scrap Friends
One of the most motivating art journalists I’ve come across is Donna Downey…..now, this girl is SERIOUSLY busy, so we’re feeling VERY privileged to be able to share with you her inspiring words today….enjoy!

Art is your life – how did this happen?

Art is definitely my life - & for that I could blame my kids! You see, the urge to create struck when I had them…I began scrapbooking so that I could illustrate my memories of all 3 of them in a unique way. From there, much of my journey was chance – truly! I was lucky enough being in the right place at the right time. Firstly, I started submitting my work to mags & I got published.
Then becoming a columnist for Simple Scrapbooks magazine [now Creating Keepsakes mag] allowed me to start traveling the world teaching my art. Of course, my skills & how I liked to create was changing as time went by. At this time, I started developing my first mixed-media scrapbooking line with Prima, & soon after I launched my online website starring all my fave products.
Somehow, it seemed a natural progression from that to hosting a yearly art event …& now we’ve opened my very own ‘bricks & mortar’ store, Donna Downey Studios, where I have my art gallery & also offer workshops thru the year….when we’re not on the road, which is quite a LOT!

How do you ‘see’ mixed media?
Mixed Media for me is just a creative and freeing way to incorporate all different mediums into my art. I love using a mix of mediums such as acrylic paints, watercolour paints, Pan Pastels etc. I started out using paper like most of us – cards & scrap pages, for example. Mixed media, such as using fabric, canvases & creating art journals, has been - for me - a natural progression on that creative journey.  I really enjoy my art at the stage I am right now, & I think that’s important for everyone. Equally, it’s important to be open to where the different mediums that you discover along the way take you!

What products/lines have you been involved with developing?
I designed my first product line with Prima in 2009 & it’s has been an amazing journey that has kept on growing, so now I’ve gotten things like stencils, fabric albums, journals & foam stamps under the Prima brand name.
Also, I’ve have developing a range of rubber stamps with Unity Stamp Company, & I’m really enjoying that partnership.
As well, I do some art licensing in the gift industry where I have a line of home decor, journals, aprons, pillows etc.
You know, most of my product lines start because it’s been stuff I wanted to use myself, in my own creative process. And I think that’s really important. These things ARE Donna Downey. They’re things I feel passionate about & I think that’s why they work! A good example of that is Pan Pastels – a fabulous mixed media material - which I’ve also been collaborating on atm.

I'm making you take a holiday on a desert island...you can only take FIVE scrapping products. What would you take?
My favourite products seem to constantly change as my art changes. However I always need my:
  • Paint brushes
  • Golden acrylic paints
  • Pan Pastels
  • Canvases
  • Gelatos

How do you find inspiration? Where do you look?
I find inspiration in simple moments throughout the day. That's why I think scrapbooks and art journals are perfect ways of expressing yourself artistically. 
I always say "All things material can be creatively transformed into a personal piece of artistic interpretation.” I really believe that creativity is not a measure of skill, but of passion…you’ve got to LOVE what you do. I do!

If the 'mojo' has gone walkabout [without you!] what would you suggest? 
When I'm not feeling creative, I just start playing in my inspiration journal. I seem to find the "mojo" when I'm just playing and when I’m open to it; you can’t always force inspiration, but you can always be open to it.

I'm gonna be really, really mean now. I want you to choose ONE fave art piece you've completed this year:
I really love my first January Canvas Create 2013 piece that I recently did. I used the amazing texturizing capabilities of Rigid Wrap. In this project I showed how to layer, shape and more importantly colorize this super cool product and blur the lines between art and sculpture.


Any other work you’re particularly pleased with atm?
I'm very excited about my new Poises collection I recently made. I love the bold colours that found their way into each one. I actually have them displayed on the wall of my living room!!! But that’s the thing – art is nothing if you can’t enjoy it!


If you had to choose between teaching and creating, which would it be?
I actually view them one & the same. The reason is that when I'm teaching, I'm actually involved in the creative process with my students. One of the best things about teaching workshops is being able to learn from others in class. I have learned some amazing creative techniques and tips throughout the year in my workshops. I love that art can be such a collaborative journey.

Can you explain a little about your Workshop Video Series?
I have been fortunate to have travelled extensively in the past 10 years, & to have met some amazingly talented people, who often, either out of necessity, or because of the different place & time, have become inventive & stretched their creativity in using products & in developing different techniques.
I wanted to bring these artists and a bit of their culture to a more global venue and I couldn’t think of anything more global than the internet.
So, I asked 4 very talented artists to accompany me in this first workshop in the series.
I shipped each artist a big box of my products and asked them to video record their creative process. For some this was their first time in front of the camera; for others it was old hat…their only instruction was that they had to use some part of every product in the box.

How did this go?
With no limitations on their creative styles, additional products or finished result, the results were authentically beautifully representing each artist and showcasing their stylistic niches. I watched each artist create, absolutely in awe of their creative process and how they transformed my products.
This was truly inspiring & I am very proud of the results. Each artist’s video is around 1.5 – 2 hours in length & it’s a great jump start for your own creativity.

And finally, any words of wisdom about this Creative Journey we're all on, that you'd like to leave us with?
I love the global nature of art. We can all communicate through our passion for it - & to me, that’s the key. I truly believe everyone is an artist & that we can all embrace the creative process. There is no right or wrong.  I think it’s really important that you try to be free when creating, & not focus on the end result. Be passionate, love what you do. Explore, have fun, play. These are the keys to developing your own style & creativity.

So, my friends – go forth & create! I hope you have found some fresh inspiration - I'm a big fan of Donna's COLLAGE MONDAY & INSPIRATION WEDNESDAY posts which you'll find at her blog SIMPLY ME…& remember - there are no mistakes in scrapping – just new discoveries!!!!!
Can I take this moment to thank Donna’s hubby Bill, who is the silent, but oh-so-present partner, for his behind-the-scenes-work in getting this interview organised. You’re a GEM!
Happy scrapping, folks
Lizzy H

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  1. I always feel inspired when I have been over to Donna's blog. Thanks Lizzy for the interview with her

  2. So so awesome Lizzy. She is certainly an inspiration to me and love reading about her. Well done.

  3. She is one AH-MAZING woman!! LOVE her stuff, what an interview!! THANK YOU Donna :) XO

  4. Thank you Lizzy for a great interview with the very inspirational Donna, I love her work so it was fabulous to read her answers to your well thought out questions.

  5. Nice intervieuw,I think it is such a lovely woman!

  6. I love her way with colour!!! A great artist!! Thanks Donna & Lizzy!

  7. Great interview. Love Donna's color choices and that every piece of her art has a life of it's own. You can't look at Donna's art and not need to pick up a paintbrush.

  8. Wonderful interview! I am a fan of Donna's and her blog, so I am so glad you have her here. She is so inspiring and her words always make me feel good about being an artist and being brave enough to to express myself in my own way!!! xo Evie

  9. I was fortunate enough to get to take a seminar from Donna when she was in So. California for winter CHA. Her energy is motivating and her talents are beautiful. She's funny, personable, and so encouraging to do your own thing and let your own art shine through. My only regret is that she lives on the other coast of the USA making it impossible to be a regular in her studio classes. Bill, her hubby, is a wonderful guy. So supportive of Donna and helpful to all the students in the class. Just wonderful people to meet and create with. xoxo

  10. I totally loved taking seminar classes with Donna in Oregon a couple of years ago!!! Love her!



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