Artist Linda Donohue shares a selection of her abstract paintings and a life story of determination and success. Learn more by visiting her website.
I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, born into my family’s furniture business. I’m the daughter of a highly driven, entrepreneurial Danish immigrant who started life in America selling encyclopedias door to door and eventually going on to create a thriving wholesale and retail furniture corporation.
At ten years old, I was handing out refreshments to interior designers at San Francisco Markets. At the age of sixteen, I worked in our warehouse and could assemble the most complicated of knock-down dressers. And at eighteen, I started studying art at CCSF while selling part-time in our Scandinavian/Italian import store. My dad and I became partners and began designing furniture that we produced in the Philippines and Vietnam. We’d wholesale our designs at trade shows in High Point, North Carolina, Atlanta, Las Vegas and San Francisco.
There was a lot of travel involved, and with two small children at home it became difficult. In the middle of the recession an art rep came into our San Francisco showroom and asked if she could hold a show there. Seeing the artists inspired me to get back to painting.
My dad and I decided to close our business in 2010. At that time, I had begun hanging my paintings on the wall of the showroom and they were selling. While wrapping up our wholesale shows in North Carolina I displayed my work wherever I traveled. By the time we fully closed in 2012, my art business was thriving and I transitioned to a full-time artist.
I love the business of making and selling art. There’s no greater reward than having a painting speak to someone in a way that brings them joy or calm or activates their imagination, compelling them to hand over their hard-earned cash in exchange for something I made. I’m always honored.
I hear from my peers, “You’re the busiest artist I know” but I don’t know if that’s really true. I know plenty of people who work as much as I do, if not more.
I love to paint. The canvas is a puzzle that needs to be solved. What colors and shapes work in what places? How much, how little? Do I feel good when I look at it? In the end it falls into place.
I inherited my dad’s drive and I believe that energy creates energy. I keep a busy show schedule doing art fairs on the West Coast, exhibiting at the High Point Furniture Market in North Carolina and showing with the Artist’s Guild of San Francisco. My studio/gallery space is in Petaluma.
My life can be like a tornado. My house and van are always messy. I have an out of control (yet awesome) garden. We have dogs and cats (although we got rid of the Guinea pigs). It’s a juggling act doing art shows, commissions, riding my dressage horse and competing all the while being able to keep up the excitement and happiness I feel when painting.
My husband and children are wonderful and incredibly supportive. I’m grateful every day to be able to do something I love.