Inasmuch as Shelton College is a liberal arts institution, we recognize not only local writers but also – as of today, at least – visual artists as well. Our first hat tip goes to Donnie Burford, a young man I know from church. He’s a Saint Albans dweller and has been painting for a little while now and – as I think he would admit – is still in his formative stages as an artist.
I don’t recommend every local artist I see and I don’t recommend every artist whom I know, but Donnie caught my eye through a recent Facebook post. That post featured a painting of a man sitting on a rock in a trout stream, fixing some tackle to his rod. The work in general is very pleasant and praiseworthy – it catches the subtle light and color tones that are unique to mountain streams. I think one of the reasons so many people love trout fishing is the immersion in the beauty of these hard-to-reach environments and it’s a credit to Donnie that he’s captured a bit of that rare world in this painting.
Here, with permission, is Donnie’s painting:
Around the same time I first saw this one, I was taking another look at some of Joni Mitchell’s paintings. She did one of Charley Mingus that is famous and I’ve got to say that Donnie’s work here compares favorably to it. In fact, I see a similarity in the color shades and the forms.
Here is Joni’s painting of Mingus:
But the thing that most impressed me about Donnie’s painting was the detail of the fisherman’s face. You see, I know that guy. He’s Donnie’s father and I would have recognized him in the painting, even if I had not known who painted it. It’s just something about the lines in his face, particularly his mouth, which Donnie got just right with one stroke of the pen or brush. For my money, the ability to do that is what separates the real artist from the wannabe. Joni Mitchell could do it, of course. In just a few lines she could give us a portrait of Neil Young that was immediately recognizable.
Donnie’s painting of his father is evidence that Donnie has that same talent.
Let’s have more.