Artist Jeff Donato: “Life in general is an inspiration to me.”
“Bright, colorful, whimsical and often – but not always – cartoony” are the words local artist, Jeffrey Donato, used to describe his exhibit “Bright Creatures” now on display Headkeepers Tapas Bar in Greensburg.
Due to Donato’s prolific body of work, the exhibit will be displayed in two parts. Part one, which includes the first eight paintings , will be display through December 15. Part two of the exhibit will be on display from December 16- January 16. A reception will be held on Sunday, January 4 from 7- 9 p.m. Jazz piano artist, Joshua Ben, is scheduled to appear.
“Come see the work, have some great food and some import beer,” Donato said. “Headkeepers is a nice, cozy place to hang out with friends.”
Donato is very humble about his talent and says he draws his inspiration from life. Encouraged by his parents “since [the age] he could hold a crayon,” he said he hails from a family strong with the “creative force.”
“Talent is just a matter of time and focus,” Donato said. “Anything can ignite the creative spark on any given day. Friends, family, students, books, movies, music, nature … life in general is an inspiration to me. It tells me what to create and when it’s time to create it. I just have to remain aware and look for the signs.”
Donato completed the works on display in the “Bright Creatures” exhibit in approximately 170 days. He estimates each painting took approximately 40-50 hours of labor, a surprisingly short time considering the size of each oil painting.
“I could have easily spent a month on each one to make them better,” Donato said. “Instead I finished each one in 11 days or so. I had a deadline, so sacrifices in quality had to be made. Honestly, though, if I’d had a year to work, I probably would have just done twice as many paintings instead of taking twice as long on each. I have a tendency towards proliferation.”
The inspiration behind “Bright Creatures” began with part of a quote about dreams from Charles Dickens’ Nicholas Nickleby.
“Expanding upon the quote, the words “Bright Creatures” are referring to not only the brightly colored animals that act as a secondary light source and are compliments to the subjects of each image, but also the subjects themselves. Each person I’ve painted is a bright, brilliant, special human being,” Donato said.
Donato says he doesn’t have a favorite piece and tries not to dwell on his own work.
“I’m probably most proud of whatever I just finished,” said Donato. “I exhibit because it’s an important part of the artistic practice, to share oneself as an offering back to the universe for the gift of art. But, [because] I always see everything that is wrong with my work… it’s difficult to enjoy it without being critical. I don’t make art to keep it. I have no physical or emotional attachment to the work itself. I create because I must. It is who I am.”
Donato hails from Ligonier where he says, as a child and emerging artist, the magic of nature inspired him, fueling his imagination. He holds an Associate’s Degree in Commercial Art and Graphic Design at Westmoreland County Community College, a bachelor’s degree in illustration from Savannah College of Art and Design and a Master’s in Interdisciplinary Art from Goddard College of Vermont. He returned to his roots and his alma mater and teaches art at WCCC.
For more information: facebook.com/JeffDonatoIllustration.
Story by Hayley Martin for Pennsylvania Bridges