Monday, December 17, 2018

"Solstice Twilight" Original Pastel 8 x 10
Available @

The longest day of the year approaches as the last days of 2018 wind down. As is so inevitable, often we take this time of year in the calm winter days to review our lives over the past year.
Did you set any goals? Did your dreams come true? Was life good to you this past year?
For me, 2018 proved a fruitful and creative year. I wish to thank all of you my friends and art enthusiasts for your support as I continue on my artful journey. Art is meant to be shared. It gives me humble pleasure to share my artistic creations with all of you. If I can shine a little joy and beauty your way every now and then, my efforts are rewarded.
From my heart to yours, thank you and may your season of gratitude be fulfilled…
Happy Solstice and Cheers in the coming of the new year.


Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Stepping Up My Game!

A Riverview Morning Walk  Pastel 10 x 17
Capitola Palms Pastel 14 x 10
 This past weekend I participated in The Capitola Plein Air Painting competition! For three days I awoke at dawn and headed out for a day of painting putting as much pastel onto paper as I could get done! I produced 8 paintings in 3 days! Phew, I am tired and taking a much needed breather!

Jetty At High Tide  Pastel 8 x 10
Morning Cliff Walk  Pastel 6 x 8

Rail or Trail  Pastel 10 x 11
The other participating artist were the best in this area and beyond, some having flown in to compete in this event! Intimidated? You bet! However, there is something I learned a long time ago in my dance training....if you want to improve, train with better dancers! So too, it is with art...I was honored to be juried into this competition and excited to paint alongside some seasoned professionals. 

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Success vs. Satisfaction

"At Peace"  Pastel 12 x 15 © Donna Theresa Fine Art
Available @
About a year ago I started my online blog documenting my daily artistic journey. It was a way for me to stay accountable to a practice of daily painting and to see my growth. I did not take on this endeavor with the hopes of people even finding me on the world wide web let alone follow me. As time passed and I shared my images and musings of daily life as an artist and mother, woman, dancer, etc., I was pleasantly surprised to receive positive comments and words of appreciation for the art I was sharing. Sharing is what I wanted to do. Isn’t that what we teach our young children? The native peoples of this land measured success not by what they had but by how much they gave away…
So what is success? Is it sales of artwork or any creative expression ? Or is success giving away our joy and beautiful creations? Are we satisfied with our success? That is, how we define our success determines our satisfaction.
This past weekend I fulfilled one of my yearlong goals I set out when I began this journey of artistic expression. I was juried into our county wide annual Open Studios Tour. I opened my studio and my home to the public and I put my creations on display….And to my surprise I was successful and received many visitors who were buzzing about admiring my work and, yes, buying it! And, yes, that was satisfying. As artists, validation comes with the sales of your creations…for someone to want to display your work in their personal space is a great compliment. However, the satisfaction came with the time and energy I gave away to each and every patron who engaged with me and my work. In the studio, I demonstrated technique as I painted on a work in progress. People were amazed that one could created with sticks of bulky chalk. They wanted to do it too! I spread the good news of the medium of pastel as an accessible medium to create one’s own beauty … one’s own satisfaction.
The weekend of October 20th and 21st is encore weekend…All the artists in the county open their doors again to welcome art enthusiasts to their studios and homes. Again, I will be among them..and that brings me great satisfaction….and perhaps success! Follow along on my artistic journey. Please comment below and get updates when I post.
Donna Theresa

Monday, September 24, 2018

First Few Days of Fall

Picking Time  Pastel 12 x 9 © Donna Theresa Fine Art
Available @

First Day of Fall  Pastel 9 x 12 © Donna Theresa Fine Art
Available @

Season is defined by change....especially on the cusp in between seasons...I feel that transition most when autumn arrives...It's as if I go to bed one evening and the air is warm and thick with summer only to wake up the next morning with a chill in the air that is thin and crisp and full of the sounds of the waking hours ...The light is more luminous as the sun begins to travel lower in the sky which lends to compelling shapes and shadows to stare at and wonder how to render that....
Change is good. I love change..Travel to new places...rearrange the furniture or if that's impossible at least arrange a new tabletop display...or in my case rotate the many paintings I have in my inventory...the side benefit of being an artist...a never ending supply of wall decor...
Autumn is my favorite season....My birthday is in the fall and my mental calendar starts in the fall. The year starts at the end of September for me...I have to believe that is a leftover memory /feeling from childhood as I anxiously awaited the start of the new school year.  Yes, I was one of those kids who loved school...
So tell me...what's your favorite season and why?
Would love to hear from you.....

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Velvet Dreams

"Velvet Dreams"  Original Pastel 15.5 x 12 © Donna Gross
Available @
Dreams are like velvet sometimes....fuzzy, unclear, nebulous, a distant memory that fades more and more with each passing moment.
About a year ago this time... or maybe less than a year I decided to pursue my fuzzy, unclear, nebulous, "how can I do that?" dream.... I set realistic goals and a timeline.... I let go of expectations and just put my best foot forward only listening to the voice of joy....the voice that asks..."Does this make me happy?"
For me , that dream started with three goals resulting from my commitment to try and paint everyday...put in the time ... be consistent... set my priorities so that I am pursuing joy, which for me is to paint in the luscious medium that is "paint" with a stick of chalk is a visceral fingers so close but not touching my paper...the feel of the various textures each stick offers because each stick is a handmade piece of art itself....
I digress...
So with that commitment in mind (painting everyday) I set my goals...
Submit my work to juried local and national and even international exhibition competitions....
Develop a website...
check... you can check it out here!
Apply and get juried into Open Studios 2018 Santa Cruz County...
check... you can come by my studio!
Slowly those velvet dreams became clearer with every stroke of my pastel stick....
Tell me your velvet dreams
Leave a comment...follow me and subscribe for more musings on life and the artistic journey that gives such joy that I must share it with all of you!

Friday, August 31, 2018

Sunset to Moonrise

"Moonlit Sonata"  Pastel 9 x 12 © Donna Gross
Available @
This composition I have tackled before....It used to be a sunset entitled 
"Settling Down"

I recently treated myself to a new set of Terry Ludwig's pastel set of 14 luscious violets.  So I thought I would rework a piece using a different palette. Now the moon rises....and I have named it Moonlit Sonata....Ironically, right now I am plugging away learning Beethoven"s Moonlit Sonata on the piano.  For me, living artistically is the key to my happiness.  Whether playing classical piano or rendering beauty in the landscape with pastels, or dancing ballet....I am in my creative element and that brings me joy.  What brings you joy?  I would love to hear about it....

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

My Favorite Place

"An Autumn Walk At Wilder Ranch"
Pastel 12 x 12 © Donna Gross
Available at
Do you have a favorite place?  Perhaps there are more than one.  How lucky one is to find a spot that inspires and rejuvenates.  A place that brings renewal and peace.
We all know the state of affairs in the world.  Well, the very young are spared the drama.  
Oh to be that young again..... As my young adult son claims, "Growing up is hard."
I agree.  I've done my time in the trenches of life. Now I am so lucky to be on the other side of that growth and struggle.  Now, I find myself in growth without the struggle. 
Sure aging has it's challenges, and I am lucky to have good health, but I am talking about feeling like one has a place in the world....a sense of belonging.
It took me well into my fourth decade of life to have that sense of belonging...and it began when I started a family of my own.  So to my young adult son I say..."Thank you for anchoring my life and giving it purpose...don't worry , it will all be have a place my heart."

Monday, August 6, 2018

New Brighton Beach

"New Brighton Beach"  Pastel 9 x 12 © Donna Gross
Available @
 Investing in art materials is just that , an investment Living in beautiful Santa Cruz California calls for painting outdoors. So I invested in the product most plein air pastelists buy ....a fancy Heilman pastel box The fun part is loading the box with my personal selection of favorite sticks. I then created my “art bag”...hat, paper, gloves, towels, apron , support to put paper on , etc.  For days now, I have been driving by this spot on a cliff overlooking the beach nearest my home and imagining setting up there and painting. This painting is the result of that dream. My first outing with my plein air set up.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Fields of Lavendar

Lavendar Lane Pastel 8 x 10 © Donna Gross
Today's piece brings Provence home...

Good News!

Hello friends!!
I have a new website! Please come and take a look ! 
Maybe you'll fine as much joy as I find in creating this artwork!

Monday, July 30, 2018

Autumnal Chill

" Colorful Promenade"   Pastel  5x7  © Donna Gross
Available contact artist

The weather is beginning to "turn" ....I mentioned to my husband  this morning....As our Earth turns , so does our weather and the daily experience of living .  We are sleeping with the windows closed now for the first time in maybe 5 months.....I awake with 3 of our 4 felines molded to my sleeping body seeking warmth...For me, autumn has always been an exciting time....Time for a new school year...Time for another birthday....Halloween and the perfusion of the color orange in everything ...pumpkins, leaves, leaves and more leaves that seem to accumulate only in my front yard!!
I feel giddy at night when it is time to hop into my p.j.'s and curl up with a book feeling an overwhelming almost breathtaking  realization that I have a home...a roof over my head....warm blankets and food...
It is with this immense gratitude that I sit at my easel everyday to paint.  How lucky am I to have discovered this passion at this time in my life....for it is simply never to late to find your creative self...don't wait until whatever you think you have to wait for....just do it....create in any way that pleases you....and be grateful....

Revisiting an Older Piece of Art

"Dust in My Sandals"

Preparing for an upcoming Open Studio , I am building my original art inventory .  Referring to previous original works I have completed, I am reinventing the image .  Using a larger piece of high quality archival sanded paper by Pastelmat
 ( 15.5" x 12"), I am finding this a most rewarding practice. Improving upon already existing work builds skills and most of all confidence. It helps me to see the pastel marks that I made on the previous piece versus working from a photo. It's a more direct instructional experience for me. To reproduce a piece of art relieves me of the interpretation needed to paint from a photo. To practice what one has already accomplished with a measurable bit of success is confidence building.  As an artist , half of the challenge is having such confidence. Confidence to even claim my place in the world as a creative artist ... to me that takes some moxie, some gumption, some confidence!

Monday, July 16, 2018

Off Season

"Soquel Creek"  Pastel  15.5 x 12  © Donna Gross
"Robin Blues"  Pastel  11 x 14  © Donna Gross
Summer greens can get a bit monotonous....Why not paint the colors of autumn in summer? Or the springtime lovelies.... exercising my artistic season.
I prefer off season for most things but mostly for travel.  The magic of winter in Yosemite coupled with the absence of the throngs of people make for a desirable winter getaway.  Venice in the winter, I hear, is also very why not paint off season? How about a paint/ travel adventure in the off season??  I'm packing my bags and my pastels!! 

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Hello Again! Memories from Europe....

"Roses of Slovenia"  Pastel 11 x 14 © Donna Gross
 Four countries, four people, eight locations, walked 130 miles....trains, planes, stinky buses,  gliding gondolas....Europe. Travel is intense living. Three and a half weeks is an ambitious time frame to fit it all in.  My family and I landed in Munich...first impression...the neo-gothic town hall in enormous building dripping with gargoyles and spires...bells ringing...this, our first sight up from the subway into the light of Germany. We were speechless...there are no buildings even remotely close to that first impression here on the west coast of California...Munich, Bavaria, Venezia, Slovenia, Croatia, Istria.....
We hiked the alps in southern Germany...a grueling 4 mile knees are still cranky after nearly 6 weeks...the breathtaking
"A Stand Out in Munich"  Pastel  11 x 14 © Donna Gross
     panorama view from the top of Nebelhorn...
     Lovely honey colored cows each with it's own bell filling the airwaves with old world song.  We brought a miniature bell home for one of our cats...she's a bit of a cow...we love her.
Venice...everyone needs to go to Venice and if art is your's mandatory. The light is turquoise. I tried to stare at the light so as to imbed it into my memory, so as not to forget, so as maybe to capture it in a painting...we'll soon see...
The jewel that is Slovenia...a best kept secret with it's quaint capitol Ljublijana...(lyooblyana)...the birthplace of marionette puppetry, who knew?
Onto Croatia and engrossed with the history of the once war torn Yugoslavia seeing remnants of buildings that were victim to the violence. Imagine the people then. It's a long story that continues.
This story will continue as well..... stay glad to be back at my easel.
~Ciao for now.
"Poppies for the Taking"  Pastel 11 x 14  © Donna Gross

"Romancing Rovinj"  Pastel  8 x 10  © Donna Gross

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Bon Voyage!

"Three's Company"  Pastel 14 x 11 © Donna Gross
Tomorrow I leave for a grand European vacation with my family.  New adventure awaits .... more memories to be made.  Our fabulous family of four has traveled together several times....Hawaii, Belize, Washington D.C., Paris, Australia, name a few.
Travel allows me to put my life on hold... to peak into another dimension of life .... to appreciate the grand glorious world we ultimately return home with a renewed gratitude...I will return with oodles of inspiration for future works of art! I plan to sketch and watercolor during my travels creating a journal of colorful visual entries.... trying a new medium will add to the newness of everything.  Stepping out of my comfort zone is what I love to do. Curiosity is what motivates me to create....what better way to achieve that than to travel!
The above piece is the last pastel for is a larger version of a small tree study I did awhile ago.....Hang onto that vibrant color !  It'll be back! 
~À bientôt~

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Working Bigger than Usual

" Resting Place"  Pastel  14 x 11 © Donna Gross
Working this size takes planning.  It's a practice I am actively practicing!! Planning...
In composition, I plan where I want my viewer's eye to go...from point A to point B and perhaps other places along the way.  In value, I plan where the sun is in my composition and appropriate shadows...execute highlights... it's a win win combination....planning.
In my mind, in my daily life, I am planning...when I get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom I sleepily think about what the next day's plans are.... however, am I present?
When I paint, I am most present than at any other time in my everyday.  
We are born innocent with only our moment to moment experience .... as we grow out of that innocence and join the rest of humanity in this thing we call life, each moment becomes everything but that very moment...then , for some of us, we notice all the planning....all the noise in our heads and if we're willing, we find a way out of that noise and into the present moment.
For me, it is the creation of beauty when I paint.  Tell me what brings you to the present moment and out of planning.?

Inventing the Landscape..A Series of Small Works


This series of small works are all pastels 4 x 8 matted and framed under glass using clip frames.
A handsome addition to any small space.
Available @

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Capturing the Light

"Three Friends"  Pastel 12 x 9 © Donna Gross
This is a work in progress... Trying to continue to capture the light and define the shadow meanwhile enjoying the friendship these three buddies are sharing....or perhaps they are simply tolerating each other's presence all the while knowing they are in competition for the next morsel of food...
not too different from the human could we evolve beyond competition?  could we embrace each individual as equally worthy?  not being one to be a pessimist...I regret to say that I don't see that happening in my lifetime.... the best one can do is 
be the change you want to see....

Friday, May 11, 2018

A Good Day at the Easel

"Settling Down"  Pastel 9 x 12  © Donna Gross
Sometimes paintings paint was one of those days...I didn't feet didn't ache from standing too coffee stayed warm until the just flowed....I am so grateful.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Stripped Peppers from Holland!!

"Stripes Win"  Pastel 8 x 10 © Donna Gross
Available contact artist

Striped pepper on the right is from Holland

Grocery shopping is a chore....I dare not complain out loud as I know living in the richest country in the world grants me the predictable shelves full of nourishment.  Born and raised in the U.S. has given me a myopic view of life.... safe streets, food in the grocery stores, clean water...the list goes on. Sure we have our problems...just turn on CNN or some other 24 hour news broadcast spewing bad news to raise your anxiety... a good reason not to have cable television.  I make choices everyday what to see, what to listen to, how to spend my time...because every minute is one less that I have...and all I have is now.
Grocery shopping is a wonderful experience when you start to take pictures of the produce section.  The produce stockers create works of art with their displays of fruits and vegetables.  So I just couldn't resist purchasing this fabulous pepper....STRIPES!! 
from Holland of all places...perhaps they are applying their techniques to achieve striped tulips to peppers?...Genius.

More from the Neighborhood!!

"Home"  Pastel 6 x 9  © Donna Gross
Available contact artist

"In Full Bloom"  Pastel 6 x 8  © Donna Gross
Available contact artist

Continuing a plein air painting practice in the neighborhood! I love being outdoors in nature and I love painting with pastels....combining the two in one activity is the best it can get for me!
What do you love to do?

Sunday, May 6, 2018

A Gift

"Cairo"  Pastel 12 x 12  © Donna Gross
A dear friend of mine passed away recently...a sleek elegant Abyssinian feline aptly named Cairo ....Cairo would often come into the piano room where I take lessons from his mama and sit next to me and rub...he knew I was a cat person.  I dedicate this portrait to Robin, his dedicated mama, who nursed him through his last weeks and took such good care of him.
RIP Cairo.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Plein Air in the Neighborhood

"Big Brother"  Pastel 6 x 8 © Donna Gross

Loving the outdoors!
I've lived in my lovely cul-de-sac for 20 years's the longest time I have lived anywhere!
In fact, in my 20's, I was quite the vagabond... 
I owned a 1971 VW bus and took to the road with my boyfriend at the time and 3 cats...crazy cat lady that I am...I have 4 cats currently!! I took two tours of the United States driving the perimeter and plunging down Interstate 40 through the middle...I have so many memories of this time in my life where everything I owned could fit in my vehicle.  Life carried on... I got married ( to a different person..) and my parents bought us a washer and dryer when they found out we had to drive 20+ miles to the nearest laundromat...well that did it.  I couldn't fit everything I owned into a car anymore!  I was a domesticated woman... children followed and a house was purchased and roots were grown here in beautiful Santa Cruz, California...
Today I ventured outside my teeny tiny garage studio onto the driveway and worked plein air...that's French for "plenty of air"...
What a delightful way to spend my Friday afternoon in the neighborhood....
20 years and counting!

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

More Than a Day

"Three's a Crowd"  Pastel 9 x 12 © Donna Gross
I am a daily painter. Some time ago I have learned, there began a movement for artists to paint everyday something anew.  Sometimes, for me, a piece like the one completed above takes more than one sitting.... The background on this particular piece took the most time.  I began to feel a bit bored can I get bored doing what I love the most!!
I needed to be very careful and work delicately....I wanted to cut loose and create big sweeping strokes of color!! 
I do love this piece..the little egret on the left looks so dejected..."Was it something I said?"  I wonder if animals get their feelings hurt....

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Handling Your Medium

" Dust in my Sandals"  Pastel 9 x 12 © Donna Gross
Decades ago I taught my self to surf in the little bohemian neighborhood of San Diego named Ocean Beach.  It was an earlier chapter of my life...definitely with a lot less responsibility... single, employed as a nurse at UCSD ... no kids...I had a keen 1966 Dodge Dart convertible white with red interior that had push button was a good time.
I remember, after watching the locals surf the spot next to the pier for sometime and becoming bored with boogie boarding, I marched down to one of the local surf shops and bought a used 8 foot plank that I dubbed the Poseidon. I donned my used wetsuit and walked down to the break. With the leash firmly placed around my left ankle, I plunged in, belly on board and began paddling....and paddling...and...I not only got nowhere where I wanted to go but was taken briskly by the current right for the pier pilings. Somehow I got out to re-evaluate my circumstances and spent the next 6 months just learning how to handle the 8 foot long piece of foam and fiberglass that was attached to my left ankle like a ball and chain ready to drown me!!
I eventually learned how to handle the board...and it took lots of time and wiping out...
So too it is with art medium.  Pastel is a very delicate medium.  I have been at this seriously now for about a year and a half...painting most everyday. Learning just how much pressure to put on the paper and how to handle the bulky sticks....It is not an exacting practice but rather using the luscious sticks of pigment to "suggest" form and give my viewer a painterly expression of my intention.  I am beginning to feel the rewards of perseverance and patience.  Many of the colors you see in the piece I painted above, were done with one swipe of the stick...some were manipulated a bit more.  The point is...patience and perseverance pays off .. 

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Coastal California

"Wilder Ranch"  Pastel 9 x 11  © Donna Gross 
~Excellence in Pastel Award~

Christmas Day 2017 spent walking a lovely stretch of trail hugging the central California Coast at the historic
Wilder Ranch property!
Living in paradise!

Grocery Shopping for Ideas!

"Trio"  Pastel 6 x 11  © Donna Gross
Need ideas for your next painting?  Go to the grocery store and pick out some produce!  Yep! That's what I did today on my weekly run to Safeway.  I saw those red, yellow, orange peppers stacked ever so artfully and I perused the pyramid for the one with the most interesting stem!  
With what I thought was skillful deftness, I tried to pry my prize from the near bottom of the stack....much like a lively game of Jenga....
Down they came tumbling around me in an array of orange!  Looking around, I spotted another shopper quietly giggling at my predicament.  My daughter scurried over to my rescue and between the two of us we had the pyramid rebuilt in no time. 
So, next time you need some inspiration...just go shopping! But do take care where you pick from !!

Support Matters!

"Meditation"  Pastel 9 x 12 © Donna Gross
In the art world, there is a language one must learn. Outline translates to contour. Form to mass. Lightness or darkness of an image to value. Color = hue.
In the pastel world, the surface you apply your pastel to is referred to as support.  There are an array of supports one can use... sanded surface, un-sanded surface, prepared surface with a grit substance called gesso.  Each has its own unique properties when receiving the application of pastel.
I have tried them all and am convinced that SUPPORT MATTERS...
Today I can put a vote in for Pastelmat by Clairfontaine. It's like no other surface I have worked on before. It takes the pastel in a unique way. Difficult to describe.  You'll just have to try it for yourself!
Support life, too. Sometimes it's the make it or break it moment when the support you ask for is given or not... As a parent of two adult children who are in the productive "making it" phase of their lives, I am their cheerleader. I am their support. Their coach. Every moment is an opportunity to make their day .... or break it. Support matters. 
As an emerging artist...I am selective to whom I reach out to for support...Usually it is my fellow artists who offer the best support...they've been there. Making art is a solitary journey...even if you are in a studio full of others making art at the same moment. Each one of us is putting our creative juices out there for everyone to see...and judge. Be kind. Encouragement goes a long way for one to reach success......Support matters.

~ Be nice to people of your way up because you'll meet them on your way down.
~Wilson Mizner

Monday, April 23, 2018

Variety....The Spice of Life!!

"Getting Ready"  Pastel  12 x 9  © Donna Gross
I needed a change.  I love change.  I used to rearrange the furniture often before I lived in our small quaint house...drove my family crazy!! 
Creating tabletop displays was a favorite childhood activity of mine.  My dream job was to be a "window dresser" today's world that's referred to as Merchandising...I like "window dresser"better. 
The landscape is what I am most comfortable painting.  However, I am drawn to the figure. In fact, I studied figure drawing for several years at our local college and then through our Art League here in Santa Cruz.  To me, there is no greater challenge than to render the human figure, or animal figure believably....capturing the gesture and movement of the figure is captivating ....
So today, I changed it up a bit...I painted a figure...I got my need for change fulfilled and I didn't have to move the couch!!

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Going Big!!

"Summer Stroll"  Pastel  12 x 18  © Donna Gross
Are you enjoying the spring weather yet?  
Here on the Central Coast of California in Santa Cruz, the days are getting longer...that is daylight is lingering until 7:30ish...
the wind is blustery and the sky is much like the image above...brilliant blues with puffy clouds.
I had a left over piece of pastel sheet on my easel. This painting measures 12 x 18 inches...a bit larger than my usual 9 x 12... it was so much fun to drag my pastels sticks across the sanded paper in large languid strokes while I blocked in the big shapes... 
This piece beckons me to take a stroll on a brilliant summer day.
I keep looking the trees, the clouds, birds....
I feel so grateful to see the world through an artist's eye....

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Thunder in Santa Cruz in April!

"Thunderhead" Pastel 6 x 9  © Donna Gross 
Available contact artist
Woke up yesterday to the sound of thunder! All the cats flew off the bed and scampered under it! 
Thunder in California is when we experience it we jump for joy!
On the way home yesterday from Monterey, my husband shot this photo of a thunderhead along 
Hwy 1. So today I decided to paint it! Hope you enjoy !