“When I begin a painting, my attitude is not one of control, but a kind of surrender to the invitations of the painting process. I trust my feelings and experience to guide me, and in doing so, I am able to access the creative source within me, and connect more deeply to universal colors, patterns, shapes and rhythms. I search for, and try to bring forth, new arrange
ments of these elements that have not existed before. I am exploring unchartered territory without the security of knowing where this journey will take me. My hope is to find what has been lost, forgotten, or neglected in the human psyche, and give it form. I try to shape images like words, shape poems, like notes shape music, like movements shape the dance. I try to remain vulnerable and humble before the “Mystery”, which shapes everything.”
Donna uses a sketchbook for ideas and reference. She often makes sketches to establish a basic design pattern for a painting. She keeps a bucket of brushes of various sizes, kinds and shapes that she has collected over the years. Many are very worn and are useful to her only because she is used to their unique qualities. She also uses rags, crumpled paper, rollers, knives, sticks and sponges. Anything she can grab to apply paint is used when she is feeling the excitement of creating.
Everything she sees contains design possibilities and she often stops and looks closely at something that stirs her visually. Donna’s approach to a painting is one of looseness and freedom. When she begins a painting, she often uses lots of pigment and water and splashes, scrubs and strokes paint in a free-form fashion.
At times she works to build up texture and at other times she scrapes through paint to reveal under color. Sometimes she sprays water or drops lacquer thinner to create drip effects. When her energy is spent, she stops and looks at what is there.
Many times, she is filled with fear that the painting will never be done. However, she keeps working and by focusing she finds order in the disarray and begins to create a mood or develop an object of focus.
When she feels she is nearly done, she puts the painting away for a few weeks before deciding it is finished. Once time has passed, she looks at the work with fresh eyes to see if there are any defects that need attention. Finally, she signs the work and enjoys the feeling of happiness that comes from seeing the painting through to the end.
When she was three or four years old, Donna Hanna Chase discovered a love for drawing. Materials for drawing were practically non-existent when Donna was a child during the Great Depression. This didn’t stop her, however. She found blank spaces in her mother’s books and drew on them. Unfortunately, this made her mother less than sympathetic about Donna’s newfound art passion.
Donna’s passion for art could not be crushed, however. Even the depression era scarcity of art materials did not deter her. She begged for empty cereal boxes which she would then cut up and use the insides for drawing paper. That is, unless the cardboard was being used to line shoes; then she was out of luck.
Her love for drawing led her to major in fine arts at the University of Michigan, where she mastered the discipline of representational painting technique. After graduation, she became a professional artist/painter. Her daughter, Lynn, shares memories of coming home from school to find her mother at the kitchen table engrossed in her painting. Lynn was allowed to watch but never to touch.
Donna returned to college when her children were grown. Here her eyes opened to the world of non-representational art. She became involved with placing line, shape, color and texture into a pleasing original arrangement. Her goal was to move beyond her technical skill into a spirit of uniqueness and she became aware of design possibilities in everything she saw.
During this time, Donna taught privately out of her studio and found that many of her students expressed their deepest emotions during the painting process. She became fascinated by the power art had to bring emotional release and healing. Art therapy was a fledgling profession at this time and Donna wanted to study this exciting new concept. She went back to college and received her Master’s Degree in Art Therapy and Counseling Psychology from Goddard College at Norwich University.
Branching Out - Art Therapy
Donna is a licensed psychotherapist, and a board certified art therapist. She has worked as an art therapist in child guidance centers, hospitals, clinics and private practice. In addition, she has taught in graduate programs in art therapy at the University of New Mexico and Webster University at UC Irvine in California. At Webster she was honored as teacher of the year. Donna’s classes focus on learning technical skills for self-expression while giving free rein to untouched areas of creativity. Many of her students have become award-winning artists.
Now at age 87, Donna is still teaching in the Emeritus Institute at Saddleback College. She states that she can now relate to issues seniors bring to the classroom. She feels that the lives of seniors can be productive and meaningful no matter their physical limitations. Everyone has the ability to continue growth until their journey ends.
Donna is still painting regularly. Her small studio is filled with both completed canvases and work in progress. The bucket of brushes collected over the years has a prominent place near her easel. Beautiful paintings with the vivid colors she loves surround her.
Art, for Heaven’s Sake is honored and thrilled to have Donna Hanna-Chase as a featured artist this year.
Artists are important to interpret the world. I believe there is an important place for art in society, but I want my art to be functional as well. I grew up watching my mother, Donna paint. Though I loved her work, I knew I couldn’t do what she does. I couldn’t even attempt to do it. I always wanted a creative outlet so I turned to yarn and fabric as a way to channel my creativity. From watching my mother paint, I intuitively learned about color and artistic balance which I am able to channel into my fabric creations.
Lynn grew up in Tarzana, California. She reminisces about coming home from school to find her mother feverishly painting at the kitchen table. She remembers being admonished to look all she wanted but not to touch!
After graduating from the University of California at Santa Barbara Lynn went on to get a teaching credential from San Jose State College. Being a somewhat adventurous person, she took a year and a half long teaching job in Yeppoon, a coastal town and locality in the Shire of Livingstone, Central Queensland, Australia. When the year was up, Lynn was joined by a friend from the United States and they took a year to go home, traveling though Asia and on around the world. During this adventure, Lynn decided she didn't want to be a teacher.
When she arrived back in the United States, Lynn had two ideas about what she wanted to do with her life. One was to work a boring nine to five job just to make money to go on adventures. The other was to get involved with outdoor science schools. After spending some time working at Sears marking clothes, outdoor science school won out.
Lynn headed over to the Orange County Office of education and soon found herself working in the Orange County Outdoor Science Program in the San Bernardino Mountains in Forest Home and Barton Flats. Here she met her wife Tricia. Later Lynn and Tricia bought a house in Loma Linda and Lynn went to work as an elementary teacher for the Redlands School District, but she never lost her interest in science and the outdoors. In fact, when their first son was on the way, Lynn decided to combine her passion for science with her passion for creating by designing and sewing a baby quilt that featured scientifically correct animal babies from the various classes of animals. Thus her love for quilting and fabric art began.
Becoming a Fabric Artist
After retiring from teaching in 2013, Lynn was able to devote more time to seriously studying the art of quilting. She loves the idea of making something that is a work of art but is functional as well. She took classes in art design and then studied with Katie Pasquini Masopust a highly regarded contemporary quilt artist based in Santa Fe, New Mexico. From Katie, Lynn has learned the art of using organic curves and shapes to create beautiful and functional works of art from fabric.