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Donna FestaWoman with Thinning Hair is a Maine-based painter whose oil-on-wood portraits of her aging neighbors have been attracting attention up and down the East coast.

Cleaver Magazine Art Editor,  Anastasiya Shekhtman interviewed her about her process and her inspiration.

Click to read the full interview, and view Donna’s riveting portraits on Cleaver.

When middle age hit, I was faced with the effects of aging. As always, painting is how I coped. Aging is a privilege, but we sure go through so much on the way to old age. All the troubles, difficulties, and heartaches take a toll on us, both mentally and physically. Often, a face will be so painfully sad or burdened that my heart sinks at first glance. People carry so much with them. I once heard a quote that I’ll never forget (though, regrettably, I do forget who said it). In his interview on PBS, an author said, “Be kind. Everyone is carrying a heavy burden.”

That is what I felt when I saw the men and women at work in the South Jersey glass factories, where I earned my tuition money. They worked hard in difficult conditions. It showed on their faces.

Woman with Oxygen Tube

6. Woman in Wheel Chair, 2011, oil on panel, 5 x 7 inches
The day I saw the Mummies of the World exhibit at the Franklin Institute this particular woman caught my eye.


Donna Festa

Donna Festa has paintings and drawings in both public and private collections, including the State Museum of Pennsylvania. She has exhibited in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Miami. Her work has been published in Fresh Paint Magazine, October, 2013, INPA, vol. 1 , 2011, INPA, vol. 2, 2012, and New American Paintings, Mid-Atlantic Region vol. 51, 2004. Donna is a graduate of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where she earned a four year certificate in painting; the University of the Arts, also in Philadelphia, where she received a BFA in painting and teacher certification; and the University of Hartford in Hartford, Connecticut, where she received an MFA in painting. Her studio is in her home in Bangor, Maine.