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Both of us, Donna Huse and Jim Sears, came to painting when our lives were in full swing. The kids were in school and our careers were galloping—Jim is a biologist and Donna is a sociologist. We were both teaching at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, involved in professional and community projects, and celebrating the good life with good friends. Our watercolors always came along on family vacations, and our favorite spots in Massachusetts and California, France and England were recorded. We painted a lot of fruit; Jim specialized in persimmons and pomegranates. Donna had an abstract period with gestural, abstract oil pastels.
When we retired in 2002, the way was clear. We wanted to paint and we wanted a professional training in painting. So we went back to UMass in Fine Arts and studied with former colleagues. Donna studied painting and drawing for four years, and Jim took a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting with honors in 2006. We are grateful to our UMass Dartmouth studio professors—Peter London, Sig Haines, Anne Leone, Bryan McFarlane, Bill Elliot, Ellen Lewis Watson, Anthony Fisher, Kurt Wisneski, Tony Miraglia, Pam Hoss, and Don Beale—for the solid foundation and inspiration they gave us as artists. Artists Debi Libuda and Patti White complete the list of our mentors.
Donna has several constant themes in her paintings unified by a fascination with nature and the elements, at the moment of encounter—light on water, cloud in sky, river in mist. Her outer space series contemplates a more distant and abstract nature and makes friends with its beauty and challenge to mind and spirit. Jim has focused closer to home on the neighborhoods of New Bedford and certain parts of New York City, as well as the agricultural landscapes of Massachusetts. More on their thinking about their art can be found in the artist’s statements.