Bio and Artist Statement
DONNA CATOTTI b. 1950, Bennington, VT
I have been intrigued with the artistic value of the human form since I was a young child, regularly admiring William Adolphe Bouguereau’s classical painting, “Nymphs and Satyr”, at the Sterling Clark Museum in my father’s hometown in Massachusetts. This large intoxicating painting mesmerized me, and I, a paint-by-number kid, wished I could paint like that. I have never lost my fascination with this particular artist, nor with the portrait/figure genre.
As a young adult I went from fashion design to architecture school where I earned a Bachelor of Design from the University of Florida in 1973, to freelance commercial art, to my first fine art gallery show the year I turned thirty. The architecture course included lots of perspective, drawing, painting, abstract and compositional design. In college I took my first life drawing class as an elective. I took it again with painting classes as a post graduate. Seeking skeletons to sketch, friends and strangers to pose for me, anatomy books, classes and workshops for over forty years, I have been honing my skills with the figure. I am still working on it, organizing weekly life drawing groups with models in my community.
Winter of 1983 was spent studying with Theodore Lukits at his studio in Los Angeles. Classes at Scottsdale Artists’ School have included teachers Tom Buechner, Terrence Coyle, Ron Riddick, and most recently Max Ginsburg with figurative work; Lincoln Fox and Rosalind Cook with sculpture, and Michael Lynch with plein air landscapes. I have been attending Portrait Society of America conferences, and am currently Alaskan ambassador for that non-profit organization. I will be curating a Portrait Society Alaskan Members-only show at the Sheldon Museum in Haines, AK in 2017. I was chosen to receive a mentor for their 9 month mentoring program in 2016. I have a lot yet to learn and am pleased to have discovered Nelson Shanks and Studio Incamminati, his 4-year school for contemporary realism in Philadelphia. Their cadre of teachers is quite impressive and too numerous to list here. For several years I have taken their summertime advanced portrait/figure workshops. In 2015, Catotti and Goldberg Art Studio hosted a Studio Incamminati “In Your Town” portrait workshop in Haines, Alaska. The third Studio Incamminati portrait workshop in Haines with Natalie Italiano will be held July 10-14, 2017.
Haines is one of the prettiest places on the planet and is where my artist and luthier husband, Rob Goldberg and I have chosen to handcraft our home, studios, and gardens from the forest, surrounded by mountains, ocean, and inspiration. We both love wilderness trips and travel. Our two boys were adopted from Bulgaria; we have studied the language and traveled there many times.
Working in oils, pastels, watercolor, sculpture, and serigraphy (hand-printed silkscreens), as well as architectural sandblasted glass, many subjects interest me. I love to start landscapes out of doors and much of my professional work has expressed my love of wilderness. The human form, however, is so endlessly challenging and intriguing that I feel compelled to focus on it now. My most recent solo show, titled “Keeping the Tradition” was shown at the Juneau Arts and Humanities Gallery opening Sept. 2, 2016. I am also getting back to sculpture and hope to deliver a piece or two to the foundry this year.
These days I am actively and successfully entering competitions. My complete resume is on this website. So far in 2017, I am showing in the Southeastern Pastel Society Juried Exhibition, the Scottsdale Artist’s School “Best and Brightest” show, and the Shaghaf International Printmaking Exhibition in Dubai. In 2016, I was juried into the 10th Biennial National Art Exhibition at the Visual Arts Center in Punta Gorda, Florida, and the Best and Brightest show at Scottsdale Artists’ School, the Richeson 75 Portrait/Figure, and the 120th Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Art Club (CLWAC) Open Exhibition at the National Arts Club, where I received the Ridgewood Art Institute Award for excellence in painting. In 2015, my work was juried into the 119th CLWAC Show at the National Arts Club in Manhattan, the Pastel Society of America’s “Enduring Brilliance” show at the National Arts Club, the Richeson 75 Portrait/Figure 2015, and the Boston Printmakers North American Biennial. I also received a first merit award in the Portrait Society of America’s members-only show in the still life category. In 2014, I attended the 118th CLWAC Open Juried Exhibition. In March 2013, as one of ten winners in their “Over 60” competition, my work was featured in the Artists’ Magazine. In April 2013 my work was featured in the Pastel Journal as a finalist in their “Pastel 100” competition, and in May, Southwest Art’s article on that competition also featured my work. Also in 2013, I was a finalist in the Richeson 75 Portrait/Figure show in Wisconsin and the Salon International in San Antonio.
I think the need to create is something inherent in an artist’s personality. Standing at the easel, I work to please only myself, not an easy task. In each of my figurative works, my hope as an artist is to portray some depth of human character and emotion that transcends the individual portrayed. When others viewing my work find meaning, pleasure, or inspiration to take away with them, then I have succeeded in my efforts.