Artist Statement

Acrylic On Canvas Squares circa 2019

Donna Cohen

Statement of The Artist
as once young and now not so much so  

Doctors, scientists, and mathematicians sat down to translate paintings into Braille so the blind could see them.  One of Van Gogh's Sunflowers paintings was the first to be synaesthetically converted by algorithm into a tile of bumps meant to evince both imagery and emotional feel. 

 Without being told anything about the painting (other than that it was a painting), the blind testers used their time-tested fingerprints to read this revised Braille, reporting that the tile featured "a round warm shape like the sun".  Encouraged by the doctors, scientists, and mathematicians to be less literal and more impressionistic, the testers soon decided this was a flower, "a special sky flower".  Soon many of the testers concluded this is what a sunflower must "look like" and that it was "wonderful" and much more fulsome in the art than in real life.

The experimental translation was a success.

I am an abstract expressionist.  I don't paint sunflowers.  I mean, sometimes I do, but they don't look like sunflowers, they just feel like them.  I imagine the blind are likely to have more quick and certain descriptions of my work than I do.  I paint what I see in my head, but that's rarely an overall image, rather I see each tiny little brush stroke as a painting all its own, after which I go stand at the back of my studio as far away from my canvas as the space will allow, assessing what that last brush stroke contributed to the whole, pondering what stroke must be next, even if that stroke is totally painting over the last stroke.

I've been a painter as long as I've been me, since childhood at least.  I have working "titles" or captions or image names for my paintings while I am working on them, but these words are just musical noises that allow me to quickly and easily get back into the eye, the voice, actually the palette of the artist who is painting that particular piece.  (Always me, but also always a different time and part of me for each piece.)  The captions go away as soon as the piece is done, and then I assess what's finally there, the story that is being told by the piece, better the feel of the piece in all its complexity and flow, and that leads to an actual title for gallery use.

I try not to do figurative art, but I do try to always play in new media in art, re-combinant techniques, macro/micro, flowing liquids, 3-D miniatures, digital, photographic, depends on the project, the commission, the challenge.  But in the end, I am a painter so I paint.  I also go back to paint on canvas and I could live there forever with no regret only hard work, frustration, and joy.

That's my artist's statement, as required.

The six piece series of Acrylic On Canvas Squares circa 2019 is my latest art.  It makes its own statement.  Could be there's a universe in there, inside-out and all about, where clocks might tick and impermanence masks the immutable, and sunflowers are everywhere because they are nowhere.  Who knows?  Maybe the best way to see this art is to close your eyes and feel your own fingertips. 

If you get the chance and care to do so, please let me know what this art says to you, let me know if the story differs by what order you path through the pictures, that's one thing I would like to know.  Because, in the end, all art is a question, and the artist continues to seek the answer, always closer, always farther away.

Thank you.  May you and your day be full of warmth and sun and flowering.


Donna Cohen
Artist Painter