Artist Interview: Donna Giraud

For this months' feature Artist interview, I'd like to introduce you to a personal friend and Vancouver Contemporary Abstract Artist Donna Giraud.

Donna and I have been friends for several years now and it all started when she found my workshops online. Donna took both the Energizing and Experimental as well as the advanced workshop on how to create thick and encaustic layers using acrylics and mediums. But even more interestingly is the story of how Donna, a full time Registered Nurse got painting on her own in the first place. Donna, I'd love you to share your story with our readers...

I first picked up a paint brush after I was inspired by a painting I saw hanging in a restaurant. I thought to myself, "I want to try and create something that made me feel the way i did when I looked at that other painting." I have to be honest and admit I certainly didn't "knock it out of the park" on my first attempt, but I realized I had found a way to express myself. I began finding paintings on line that inspired me and I tried to mimic their qualities. I was open to trying mixed media and various acrylic products and just played around for a few years. When I started creating my own original pieces, I was happily surprised by the overwhelming response from friends and family and I thought that this was an avenue I should probably take more seriously. I began selling my paintings about 4 years ago and have taken some courses recently. Now I am happy to say that I have partaken in exhibitions, shows and markets and I am excited with what the future has in store.

So your first step was to actually start painting and then you started showing and subsequently selling your work. Can you tell us about that? Where did you first show your work and what was it like selling your first painting?

After I had been painting for a couple of years and selling paintings to friends and family, I developed enough confidence and decided to host an open house in my home to feature my work. It was a very successful night which in turn gave me more courage to tackle the public. I had heard of the local artisan market "Portobello West" and was successfully chosen to be a vendor at the march market last year (2011). From that I was accepted as an emerging artist at the One of a Kind Show and Sale and was also given the opportunity to have my first solo exhibition at Raw Canvas (I was introduced to their art director Matthew by the one and only Deb, thank you for that Deb!!!)

I feel that Raw Canvas ( was where it all began. I was able to have my art hanging publicly and it felt like I had finally proven to myself that I had something that people were interested in and overwhelmingly supported. I sold three pieces that night and that whole experience working with the team at Raw Canvas was something that I will never expect.

Recently I recall you set up a booth at the One of A Kind show in Vancouver. Can you tell us about this experience. Pluses/drawbacks. Anything you'd do differently if you did the show again.

I was lucky enough to be one of the seven chosen "Emerging Artists" at the One of a Kind Art Show and Sale in Dec 8-11th 2011. (

It was an incredible experience. Not only did I sell a lot of paintings, I was able to meet some amazing artists that I will be collaborating with in the near future and met some incredible people that gave me nothing less than overwhelming support and inspiration to keep doing what I am doing.

So going back to the start of this interview you do have a very busy life working full time as a nurse...How the heck do you make time for painting when it's never urgent nor a priority to take time for our creativity? Please share your secrets!

This is definitely where I struggle. I wish I was able to have all the time in the world to explore my creative side, but since I don't (yet), I just have to make it a priority. I am lucky enough to have the schedule where I get home at a reasonable hour each day and still have the time to tap into my creative process as well. Painting is one of those few things that "fills my soul" and its an active form of meditation for me. I know that there are a few things in my life that help keep me centered and fulfilled, and painting is one of those things. I tell a story with each of my paintings and its my release and therapy time. There are so many great things that come out of my painting that I would be crazy not to want to do it as much as I can, so I do.

What's your favorite art piece of yours and why?

My favorite piece of mine is Titled "REFFAJ". I just recently sold it and I can honestly say that I have felt the separation. The story and feelings that inspired the painting were so intense and the journey it took to actually finish the piece was nothing like I had ever experienced before. The painting essentially represented the many layers to an individual (in this case, me) and in the moments of darkness, there is still hope. This piece was a very therapeutic process and I became very attached. Gratefully, it found an amazing home to live in and I am sure they are enjoying it as much as I did.

What are you working on currently and please tell us about it... As much as the colour/design but also the meaning of your work and what inspires you.

I am now working on my 2012 collection and I have transitioned back to canvas (I had previously been working only on wood panel for the last year). Last years collection was highly representative of the struggles and hurt that I had endured the previous year and the process in which I overcame that pain. I can honestly say that I have come out stronger on the other side and I am completely inspired to paint from a place of healing now. Most of my art is highly texturized which encourages up close curiosity by the viewer and I am drawn to the earth tones as these colors best represent the emotions that I am trying to convey.

For you, What the best thing about being and artist?

The best thing about being an artist is experiencing the emotions that my paintings create for other people. I am fascinated by the diversity of people's imaginations and the power that color and texture can have on someone. I adore the abstract form as it allows people to come up with their own interpretations and if I can create that one piece that is going to "speak to somebody", then I have done what i have set out to do.

For you, What 's the most challenging thing about being an artist?

The most challenging thing about being an artist for me is trying not to be so hard on myself and just being one with the creative process. We all have less creative days, and I just try and remind myself that . When I just approach painting with an open expectation and not feel like I have to produce a master piece each time, the journey with a painting is so much more rewarding.

How would you define success for yourself as an artist ? What are some success you have achieved thus far on your journey, and what has been a key factor in you achieving your success?

I would define being a successful artist by "continuing to paint because it fills my soul". Obviously, if I can get/sell my paintings to the public and world to enjoy, then that's just an added bonus. The success that I have achieved thus far in my journey is a) finding the courage to put myself out there and actually become an artist and keep at it, and b) having my first solo exhibition at Raw Canvas. I can't remember a better feeling than being in a room filled with people who love and support what I do.

What 3 pieces of advice would you give to other artists?

1) Just pick up the paintbrush and paint. You'll learn tricks, you'll figure out what works, what doesn't, but you can't do that unless you paint. Don't be afraid to get a little messy and makes some mistakes. Sometimes the worst mistakes make some of the best paintings.

2) Promote, promote, promote. You are your biggest fan and ally and you need to sell yourself and believe in yourself. Be proud of what you do and let people in with your story and process. People love to hear that stuff.

3) Reach out to the artist community. You'll find that other artists are going through the same things and it's always good to ask them what they have learned or how they have dealt with things in the past. They can then be another promoter of your art and the whole "snowball" effect starts there; Artists supporting artists (for example, this blog!!)

I am, as you know, a big believer in self care - especially for artists! What do you do to nourish your self and soul? to re-energizing yourself i fyou're feeling over taxed or drained, how to you re-group so to speak?

I am a huge believer in self care. I was once told to "fill your cup full for you, everything else that spills over is for everyone else." You are no good to anyone else unless you are happy with you. The top four things that nourish and revitalize me are a) obviously painting, b) walking (i'll walk for hours), c) reading and d) spending time with my friends and family.

Life is so hectic and there are so many things that can throw us off balance. I make it a point to listen to my body and not feel guilty about spending time for myself to re-energize.

What recent or upcoming shows/and or gallery representation can we look out for or go and see of your work?

I am excited about the upcoming year. I have a three month show at Lut Boutique ( some time during the summer (dates still to be finalized) and I am collaborating with two artists that I met at the One of a Kind Show and we are organizing our own emerging artist group show for september. I have some art available on line with Raw Canvas ( and I am always willing to set up a viewing either at my home or by bringing my art to your home to see how it looks in your space.




Twitter: @donnagiraud

A few days after posting this blog, Donna send me a link showing her recent interview with OOPS Magazine from Japan! Hey Donna, I never knew you were a soccer star! Very Cool. You can find the interview at: