Artist Feature - Donna Housel
This week, First Frontier Forward had the chance to interview Bedford County local artist and teacher, Donna Housel for our, "Artist Feature!"
Growing up in Bedford County, Housel learned to appreciate art, and the activity is brought for her during her childhood. "In my day of growing up, there wasn't a lot to do and there wasn't a lot I was allowed to do." She spent most of her free time drawing and painting and this continued into high school. After marrying her husband and having her son, she found herself not as heavily involved with art.
When her son was 16, she finally decided to pursue her passion again. She was taking classes in Everett and her name became increasingly more familiar to others. A local woman asked Housel if she would help her son with some art, him being homeschooled at the time. "At first I said no, and then she called me two or three more times so I finally figured I ought to say yes. That’s where teaching came into play and it only got stronger.”
She then began teaching at the Allegheny College of Maryland, Cumberland campus, in the continued education department as a colored pencil, pastel, and drawing teacher. She also works out of her home studio.
When asked about her work, Housel described herself as being a realist for a long time. She took classes that focused on animals in the pieces and also experimented with other mediums while developing her style. She more recently took a class in State College that had to do with landscape art and it opened her up to a direction she never felt she would go in. “I never really enjoyed doing landscape art that much and since I took those classes, I was done. That’s what I wanted to do. I was so surprised. The class was called “Loosening Up,” and allowed us to work with new colors, lights, and shadows.”
We asked her about the inspiration that she looks for when she's stuck. "Sometimes, if I’m stuck, there are several places on the internet where you can use photos without worrying about copyrights. That’s where I would paint from that reference." She goes on talking about jury shows that she's been involved in. "When you're involved in a jury show, you have to use to use references that are original to you." She became interested in being a part of the Pastel Society of America. Only having a few thousand members in the United States, the artist applying must submit five pieces for the jury that are of original, not referenced from someone or somewhere else. "I became invested in finding my own references to use and continued from there. There's something about having a piece that is yours and only yours, that makes it special."
Her work has been shown at multiple venues, festivals, and shows, including the Bedford County Art Council, Community Arts Center in Johnstown, Bedford Fall Foliage Festival and she has also be scheduled to do some shows in Cumberland, Maryland, but, due to COVID-19, has since been canceled. She still very busy though, currently taking classes with a Ukraine instructor on pastel techniques with hundreds of other people around the world. She has her sights set on next year, for the Cumberland, Maryland show during the summer. "This gives me lots of time on my hands, preparing for this show, and hopefully, I’ll have a lot of new paintings ready for it.”
We asked her for some advice she would like to give to other artists. This is what she had to say: "Don’t give up. If you’re married, don’t listen to your spouse. It may be rude sounding, but it’s the truth. They don’t understand what you’re trying to do. They’re not inside your brain. Don’t listen to critics. Do your thing. Keep studying. You don’t have to study with one instructor, you can study with many. And if you think you know it all, you probably don’t and you’ll learn new things all the time. PAINT PAINT PAINT!”
We want to thank Donna Housel for her time and want to continue to encourage you to support local artists in your communities during this pandemic. If you'd like to check out more of Donna's work, visit her website donnahouselart.com or her Facebook page: DonnaHouselArt.