Workshop News

Please join me in September for my last workshop in 2018!

Adding the You Factor to Paintings is all about discovering how to make your paintings more unique, personal and creative. Each day we’ll explore one or more strategies that offer ideas and options for getting there. Included will be an explanation of each strategy along with figure, still life, and landscape examples of each strategy and a look at the art history behind it. These strategies apply to every subject and they pertain to any painting medium. The focus is on seeing and thinking abstractly and crafting a beautifully designed painting using a personal rather than rule-based approach to composition and color.

Here is the signup info:

September 10-14, 2018
Highland, Michigan
Contact: Barb Weisenburg
Phone: (248) 787-1133

New Paintings

Just delivered some new work to the C2C Gallery in Grand Haven, Michigan. 😊


I love this gallery – it has something for everyone!

Bye for now…..Donna

Join me in Ann Arbor at my spring workshop

Donna Zagotta, Turquoise Dress (detail)

This year I will be teaching two workshops; one in the spring and one in the fall. The first workshop will be held in Ann Arbor, Michigan March 26-28. The title is Adding the You Factor 2, and in this workshop we will be exploring a number of strategies for creating personal and inventive paintings, including:

  • Overcoming fear
  • Getting beyond illustration
  • Working with reference materials
  • Dividing the space in a beautiful way
  • Loosening up brushstrokes
  • Understanding the color/value connection
  • Making it up as you go
  • Putting together a personal box of painting tools

These strategies apply to every subject and they pertain to all painting mediums. The focus is on seeing and thinking abstractly and crafting a beautifully designed painting using a personal rather that rule-based approach to composition and color. A major theme throughout the workshop will be that subject matter is just a jumping off place – the real subject of your paintings is always YOU.

I hope you can join us in Ann Arbor for a fun and exciting art adventure! All mediums are welcome.

Click here for registration info:

Bye for now…..Donna


Happy 2018!


The View From my Studio Window, Donna Zagotta

I want to wish you all a happy, creative, and productive new year!

As promised in my last post (sorry to be so long), here are some things I tell myself when working on a painting…………..

Donna’s Notes to Self While Working on a Painting 

• No judgements allowed – paint spontaneously and then respond.

• Only create work you love – pay no attention to what anyone else says of thinks.

• Who you are is found in what you love.

• Find and paint that thing that is your own.

• Explanation is the biggest obstacle to creative and personal painting.

• Creativity trumps accuracy.

• Make it ARTificial, not real.

• Don’t paint things, paint shapes, patterns, and relationships.

• Be willing (and even excited) to embrace the mistakes, missteps, and surprises that show up along the way.

• Every painting goes through an ugly adolescent stage – don’t worry, just keep going.

• A painting is always about the artist rather than the subject that inspired it.

             And, here’s one more thing I’m adding to my list in 2018…………

• Take more risks – make your paintings more controversial.

The inspiration for that last note came from a book I’ve been re-reading recently – Finding Your Personal Voice, by Dakota Mitchell – where the author recounts the advice a friend gave her that helped her move past her hesitancy to paint less realistically and more expressively: “I don’t think anyone taught Jackson Pollock to paint that way. I think you should be controversial.” I love that!

Happy Painting in 2018!

Diebenkorn’s Notes

Diebenkorn Exhibition

First of all I’d like to thank Carolyn Wilson for sending this photo my way on my birthday last week. You totally made my day, Carolyn! The photo was taken at the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco’s 2013 Richard Diebenkorn exhibition, “Richard Diebenkorn, the Berkeley Years”. I was teaching a workshop in Santa Rosa, CA and in one of my talks I showed this Diebenkorn (one of my favorites) as an example in one of my talks.


Someone in the class mentioned that a Diebenkorn exhibition was currently up in San Francisco, and immediately it was decided that we must take a class trip to see that exhibit! And – the next morning we drove to San Francisco! We all had a wonderful time that day, and the exhibit was spectacular. Here we are at the museum….

2013 September

I’m so grateful that I’ve been able to see most of the major US Diebenkorn exhibitions that have been held because, as I’ve mentioned a number of times on this blog, Dieb is one of my all time favorite artists.

I found this in the catalog from that exhibition. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Notes to myself on beginning a painting, by Richard Diebenkorn

  1. Attempt what is not certain. Certainty may or may not come later. It may then be a valuable delusion.
  2. The pretty, initial position which falls short of completeness is not to be valued – except as a stimulus for further moves.
  3. Do search. But in order to find other than what is searched for.
  4. Use and respond to the initial fresh qualities but consider them absolutely expendable.
  5. Don’t “discover” a subject – of any kind.
  6. Somehow don’t be bored – but if you must, use it in action. Use its destructive potential.
  7. Mistakes can’t be erased but they move you from your present position.
  8. Keep thinking about Polyanna.
  9. Tolerate chaos.
  10. Be careful only in a perverse way. 

Do you have specific things you say to yourself when beginning a painting? In my next post, I’ll share some of my own “notes to myself.”

Bye for now…..Donna