Donna Coleman

This month, we've spoken to Donna Coleman about her emotion-inspired work and her life as an artist. Donna's work is connected by the fragility of the human condition and she draws inspiration from Alberto Giacometti and Francis Bacon. 


When and how did your interest in art develop?


From a young age I have always enjoyed drawing and painting and so with encouragement from my art teacher I applied and got into Jacoub Kramer Art college where I got a 1st Diploma in Art and Design. I then went on to do a B-Tech National in Art and Design at Harrogate College of Art and Technology. As a very shy and quiet child and then teenager, I found art was a great to express myself.


What influences your art?


My art is influenced by my interest in psychology and my own life experiences.


What process do you go through when you are creating a piece (starting with the initial idea)?


I start by doing very simple sketches on paper to work out my idea. Then I think about how I'm going to produce the piece, i.e. will it be a painting or a biro drawing etc. This part of the process is very quick, I don't like to think about it too much and sometimes I don't even do sketches. Films are more complicated and need planning beforehand.


You create drawings, paintings and films – what is the difference between the work you do in these three media? Is there a connecting thread?


The fragility of the human condition is the connecting thread between all of my work. I like to use different mediums because you can show things with some mediums you can't with others. For example: I want to take the viewer on a journey with a film, but with a painting or drawing I'm trying to capture a moment in time.


Your works often portray strong emotions – distress, anxiety, peaceful calm. Are these emotions you have personally experienced?


Yes I have experienced all these emotions and I find it cathartic to portray this through my work. 


Which artists, if any, have you drawn inspiration from?


I draw inspiration from figurative artists like Alberto Giacometti and Francis Bacon. Frida Khalo is also an artist I admire as she painted from her own life experiences.


Do you have a favourite piece? If so, which one and why?


My preferences change as my work develops. I would say at the moment that my favourite peice is my painting titled "Anxious." I like the mediums I used: biro and acrylic paint, and feel all the elements came together really well.


What do you hope the viewer gets from your work?


I want the viewer to have an understanding or an affinity with the emotions in my work. I do understand that not everyone will but any reaction is better than no reaction at all.


What has been the highlight of your artistic career?


Being part of a mentored project called The Place & Memory Project has been the highlight of my artistic career so far.  This has enabled me to gain enough confidence to work alongside professional artists in my own studio space.


Has being a part of Outside In been beneficial for you? If so, how?


Being Outside In's Artist of the Month is a boost to my confidence.


What is next for you as an artist?


I would like to have my first solo exhibition and am currently working towards this in my new studio space.


Click here to visit Donna Coleman's Outside In gallery


Image credit: Donna Coleman, Glimmer of Hope

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