Out & About

March 20, 2014

When the student is ready ...

Plattsburgh artist Donna Austin's exhibition opens at ROTA Galley and Studios

PLATTSBURGH — Donna Austin has always been into art.

When she was a child, she was inspired by her father’s doodles and tried to imitate him.

Born and raised in Plattsburgh, she majored in art in high school and minored in art at SUNY Plattsburgh.

For 30 years, she taught second-graders mostly.

“We were able to relate almost everything to art,” said Austin, whose new exhibition opens Saturday at the ROTA Gallery in Plattsburgh.

“I retired, and I was a silversmith for about 10 years. When I was in college, I took every jewelry-making class they offered.”

She had always wanted to try her hand at watercolor.

“I admired the look of it, the transparency, and the fragile look of the watercolor. I was afraid to take that first step. I was so good at the jewelry making; I thought I could never do this.”

Austin discovered artist/instructor Claire Hogue-Reid and began taking lessons with her for a year.

Six years ago, she was one of “Claire’s Divas” with a group of other women that included Anne Bailey, Jackie Crisp, Susan Cruser, Mary Jo Juneau, Carol Lowery, Jerry Lynn Pratt-Mullen, Phyllis Nadeau, Judy Velie, Denise Wells and Audrey Godolowski.

Then and now, Austin captures the beauty of the North Country in works such as “Crows in Winter” and “Valcour Lighthouse.”

“I entered a couple of paintings in the (Plattsburgh Public Library) exhibition in 2008,” Austin said. “I won second place. I didn’t know they were even giving prizes. That was a nice surprise, so that was very encouraging.”

She continued learning techniques with artist and community-art instructor Bryan Briscoe.

“I learned some invaluable things from him,” Austin said.

In the past eight years, she has amassed quite a few paintings, 60 of which will be exhibited at ROTA Gallery.

“I’m ready to share them with the world.”

She paints nearly every day.

“I don’t feel right if I don’t sit down and do some painting,” Austin said.

Email Robin Caudell:rcaudell@pressrepublican.comTwitter:@RobinCaudell

IF YOU GO WHAT: Exhibition of paintings by Donna Austin. WHEN: Opening reception from 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday. WHERE: ROTA Gallery and Studios, 50 Margaret St., Plattsburgh.

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