Eye on Artwork Series - Donna Ruff

While sourcing items online for a design board, I ran across an image that stopped me in my tracks . . . 

As most of you know, I'm online quite a bit sourcing furnishing, accessories and artwork (always start your interior design search online, it will save tons of time and in my case, it saves my client's money when pulling a room together). So, it's rare for me to see something completely new and unique.  It's even more rare NOT to find that other artists have created similar pieces or DIY versions.  Well, this is it.  I was not able to find any takes on this very original artwork.

So, I had to find out more about the artist, Donna Ruff and her work.  After contacting Donna, she graciously agreed to an interview!   

I asked Donna a couple of questions, and her answers were quite surprising.

When did you discover you were an artist?
 I was always the artist in school and I suppose enjoyed the attention. My parents sent me to art classes but also to singing and dancing and baton twirling (!) classes with my cousins. But when I was six, I announced that I wanted to be an artist. This will show my age for sure but the movie "Annie Get Your Gun" was being released and the producers sponsored a contest to draw your favorite toy, and the prize was an Annie Oakley doll. At that time Madame Alexander dolls were a big deal, like American Girl dolls are now, and I had collected a few. I was very cagey, because I decided to draw an Annie Oakley doll, even though I didn't have one (the dolls were released when the movie came out.) And I won the contest, and that sealed my fate as far as I was concerned.
While the artwork was never returned to Donna, she still has her beloved prize! 
My parents thought it was fine that I was talented, but they certainly didn't encourage art as a career. Quite the opposite. A series of circumstances brought me to doing illustration, and then my family got on board, since I was making some decent money. I grew tired of the business though and wanted to make my own work, so I went to graduate school in 1998 when I had some financial resources to do it.  The style of my illustration work was kind of a soft realism, using airbrush and pastels. When I went to grad school I was introduced to printmaking and papermaking, along with a lot of theory.
I wanted to leave illustration behind so I really didn't do much representational work. I got interested in the idea of series and my experience with books (designing and illustrating) stayed with me. I still enjoyed drawing and gesture and I applied that to printmaking and installation. My MFA thesis show employed linoleum prints on Japanese gampi paper, affixed to a large arc shaped skeletal wood wall. 
What inspires you when creating your artwork?
The things that inspire me often have something to do with language and comprehension- in the sense that our own experiences determine how we comprehend things. I like to play with the idea of completion- most of my work seems fragmented, like time has passed and something is wearing away.
 In the past few years as the world has become more volatile, as important monuments and artifacts have been destroyed, not to mention entire communities, I have thought a lot more about fragmentation and violence. 
So the burn drawings are a form of violence to the paper, but they are also meant to be beautiful and elegant. When I see ancient books that show the effects of age, or mosaics, or buildings, I think about how they might have looked when they were new, but more importantly, these things carry the weight of history, and there is beauty and interest in that. 
 Thank you, Donna, for the insight into your work! If you are interested in having one of these unique pieces in your home, contact Donna here.


  1. i too get jaded mandi seeking out original and fresh pieces. donna is indeed original and fresh, love the burned pages and the meaning behind it

  2. Beautiful Art, Artist and interview! A most unique genre!

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Thank you for thoughts on my post! M.