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Wednesday

Thirteen Threads from the Wild Heart– Donniece Smith (Mixed Media Artist)

Today's post is by Michele Lang of Tierra Verde Soaps

Donniece is a local artist here in Lubbock and I have known my friend Donniece for about 4 years now, but it wasn’t until a mutual friend told me about Donniece’s blog that I began to understand the vast scope of her talent. You see, Donniece’s personality is quite humble and while I was aware of her beautiful knitting, crochet, and jewelry pieces-I didn’t know she was also a painter, writer and storyteller. In truth Donniece is a multi faceted artist that has her hand in many forms of creative expression - and her talents seem endless.

A segment of Donniece's work (and probably what she is most known for) combines her love of jewelry with her passion for fiber to create wearable fiber jewelry with bling. Each one of Donniece's jewelry pieces is a celebration of color with touches of shimmer that bring interest to each piece.

Tell us a bit about yourself

Since this feature is for Handmade in Texas, I'll begin by telling you that I am a fourth generation Texan. My roots in this great state run deep. I grew up in Abilene and went to college in Denton at the University of North Texas. I lived in the Dallas metroplex for several years before moving to Lubbock in 1994 to be near aging grandparents. I have enjoyed Lubbock and its growing creative art community ever since.

My professional background over the past twenty-five years has been in the field of graphic design. I have worked for advertising agencies, a billboard company, and the in-house catalog departments of Zale's jewelers’ corporate office. I really enjoyed creating architectural signs and banners for the Dallas Galleria and Dallas market showrooms as freelance projects. My last full time position was Corporate Graphics Director for a teaching hospital.

A few years ago I made the plunge to leave corporate work and develop my own creative art path. I am in the process of fine tuning all the working parts to have a viable artistic career. It has been a fun and rewarding adventure. I am having a wonderful time reinventing myself. 

Dia de Los Muertos 2010



When did you know you were an artist - What was that realization like?

I have a more vivid and definite recollection of knowing what I was NOT rather than that I was artistic.  From first grade onward, math was a struggle for me with the one exception of my high school year of geometry.  Realizing I was an artist was a slower process of realization.

I remember that as an only child I spent many hours with crayons, paper and scissors.  I am sure whatever early natural abilities I had were honed during the many hours I spent cutting, drawing and coloring. 

In high school I was interested in art and writing. I was editor of the school newspaper and really enjoyed typography and layout. At the same time, my high school art teacher was able to group her serious art students together in the same first period class. We explored printmaking, jewelry casting and a variety of advanced art techniques. 

Before my senior year of high school was over I knew that a combination of Graphic Design and Journalism would be the focus of my college studies. 

I think I have thought of myself as being "creative" almost all of my life. Yet, it has only been in recent years since leaving the corporate work world that I have thought of myself as an artist with a capital A. 


I know that you work in several mediums, tell us about them

Yes, I do work in several mediums since I am fascinated by so many different materials. Perhaps since my graphic design career was so computer oriented, I enjoy the tactile materials that can be touched, both while creating, and after the piece is completed. I also have a heritage of needlework and sewing in my family. I enjoy translating these domestic skills into art. I primarily use fabric, threads, and beads to make contemporary art quilts and jewelry. I have recently explored painting, but even then, I have often included beads and fibers into my paintings. Mixing media is of great interest to me but I believe it is important to maintain the clarity of good design. No matter what the medium I feel my use of color is the strong organizing principle and signature style of my work.

 Mandala Book

 “Wildflower Fusion”


If you had to pick just one favorite medium - what would it be and why?

If I had to choose my favorite medium it would be creating with beads. Beads reflect light, beauty, color. They have their own magic that I never tire of beholding. There are an endless variety of ways to create with them. I love the repetitive meditative act of picking each bead up with the tip of a needle to string or sew them down.  

Since I would never grow bored with them, beads would be my choice if I had to choose one. The question reminds me of being asked what I would take if I were stranded on a desert island. Perhaps if I took beads in that situation, I could also use them as money to barter with the natives. Plus they would be waterproof, take up very little space and would sparkle in the sun. 

 Necklace

Zipper bracelet-“Whimsical Cuff bracelet made from clothing labels, zipper and men's silk ties with cotton fabrics”

Where does your inspiration come from?

In thinking of my response to this question, I realize that I have a relationship with two types of inspiration. One is the inspiration to create something at all and the other is the subject, style and content of what I create. 

Having worked professionally in a field that required creativity "on demand' and under deadlines, I am at a loss when I have no constraints and open ended freedom to create. I usually find that I need to set up my own problems to solve with a deadline or some type of structure to "create the momentum to create". 

When I begin working with materials, the inspiration comes to me much easier than when I attempt to start the process in my head. I can think all day long and not get anything accomplished. It is when I start putting materials together in some way that the process begins to evolve, the next step presents itself and the project takes on its own life. 

With that being said, I do keep a file of clippings, notes, swatches and sketches to draw upon. The ideas simmer until one or the other seems ready to bring to life. 

Of all your works, which one has been your favorite?  Was there one you hated to see go?

I find my favorite pieces are the ones that include my first time to use a technique or process that turned out particularly well. Whenever a piece includes some sort of breakthrough for me in my development, it becomes really personal. 

That is true with my legendary portrait that is on my Thirteen Threads header design. Not only is it my first painting of a face but it was painted on a large 30 x 40 inch canvas. It was created as part of an online class that was a wonderful group learning experience. I will probably always keep that original painting. Right now it is my favorite. 

So far, all of my art pieces and jewelry that have found new owners, I have been ready to release. I am not sharing my gift with the world if I hold onto everything. 

 Amazing Flaming Heart

What is your dream project?

My dream project is still in the dream stages but I do know that it involves pulling together various artists to work together in creating something wonderful for a public outdoor space.  It involves murals, banners, mosaics and colors that will be beautiful for people to enjoy.  While I work very small in my personal art processes, I would love to do the opposite and work very large.  Overall, I feel all of my projects are dream projects when they bring beauty into someone's life.


What does handmade mean to you?
 
I think of a "handmade" item as something that is infused with the spirit of individual people. Whether an item is made through an individual or small group process, there is an extra care given to detail. There may even be some machinery involved in its making, but the mechanical processes are individually governed by the human heart. There is a saying that "God is in the details," in a similar line of thought, I think that the human soul is in the handmade.

If you could meet any artist - dead or alive, who would it be and why?

The choices of historical artists are difficult to narrow down. But at this time, I choose Georgia O'Keefe for the reason that she is a noted female artist when so few women are recognized in this field even today. I am also intrigued that she was a teacher in Canyon, Texas and would love to hear her talk about how the southwest landscape came to inform her legendary paintings.  She fused her life and art together in a way that is intriguing. I would love to know more about her beyond what we know publicly.

Where can people see your art - Can people purchase your jewelry?

I am currently working on a body of artwork this year in much the same way a musician works in the studio of a year to release a new CD. My year began this past January 2011 on my fiftieth birthday and is a thirteen month journey that I have combined with a weekly blog. I write about the creative process using the metaphor of thread to denote the various steps and stages of creative self expression. My site is titled “Thirteen Threads from the Wild Heart.” Each month is focused on a different creative thread that I hope helps others to understand and venture into their own creative life. On occasion, my creative muse Lulu Red takes over writing the post to give her sassy take on things. 

The thirteen month process will culminate with my art exhibit on April 13th, 2012 that I plan to show both locally and virtually online. I invite anyone interested to check my website, read my posts, and sign up for notifications. You can see my current portfolio of work under the gallery tab at this address as well. 


or at this shorter link; 

http://www.thirteenthreads.com   I invite you stay tuned.

To see more of Donniece’s amazing work-take a peek through her gallery of works

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