First Friday Santa Cruz



Donna Rumwell

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People often ask Donna why she paints octopus. Her passion for the ocean is about tranquility, healing, origin of life and new beginnings. The ocean is a reflection of the health of our planet. Her work opens up conversations that lead to better understanding of the creatures that live in the ocean.

As more people begin to appreciate its beauty and understand its mystery, hopefully they will also gain a desire to help preserve the beauty of the sea and the planet.

After her cancer diagnosis in 2001, she realized it was time to fulfill a lifelong dream of living close to the ocean. She celebrates every day here as special and is blessed to be part of this community.

Where do your ideas come from?

(interview with the artist):

My current subjects are mainly those of underwater scenes, especially octopus and sea turtles. These paintings have lots of detail, some include mixed-media using gold rice papers and Japanese origami papers. They take many hours to complete.

I am fascinated with the octopus, its shape is constantly changing, the graceful flowing lines of their legs, their changing colors and their amazing intelligence. My contact with the octopus in the lab at Monterey Bay Aquarium as well as the time I rescued a baby octopus stranded in a tide pool in Fitzgerald Marine Preserve tickled my need to know more."

What influences your work?

I constantly view the world around me as my next opportunity for creative expression. A photo I took of my daughter walking with her dog on the beach became a subject, as well as Cattleya blooming in my garden. I take thousands of photos."

"I have experienced the underwater world through my snorkeling experiences in places like Cozumel, Mexico, Hawaii, and most recently a bare boat trip to the British Virgin Islands. While I have not taken underwater photographs, those experiences are imprinted in my memory and become blurred with dreamlike images. I combine many different images of flora, fauna and creatures I find online, in books and magazines as well as ones provided by scuba diving friends (with great lighting and equipment) to help me create the compositions I paint. Paint with passion and your work will reflect that passion!"

"I paint to relieve the constant chatter of energy that builds in me to be expressive, to create new realities through artistic expression. I feel relaxed and energized after painting. I watch the paint as I apply it to the paper, it has a path and energy all its own that I guide but I am not always in full control of it (much like life). I want to create pieces that play with color, (I love bright intense color) and have a unique perspective of reality, creating new worlds that are based on reality."

"Those surprises continue to amaze and entertain me. I try to push the boundaries between my control of the paint and its quality to flow freely in order to create a balance."

Education: AA Foothill College, Los Altos, CA

BFA California College of the Arts/Oakland, CA

Elementary and Secondary Teaching Credentials (CCAC)

View Donna's work:

FB page, Donnarumwellartist.

Creating a web site is on the current to do list

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