Susan K Donley: Artist Biography
Nationally known for her work in arts education, Susan Donley has returned to her roots as a portrait artist with drawing skills honed over 45 years of personal experience and 30 years teaching art to others. She used her degrees in art and museum education to fulfill her passion for teaching others to see the world with fresh eyes and now brings to every portrait that same passion for revealing familiar things in a new light.
Fellow artists have said "many artists have the technical skill to render a likeness, but Sue has the rare ability to capture that spark of life" and "It's like you have a camera in your mind that goes right to the soul of the subject."
"Whether I'm doing a portrait of a person or a pet, I try to minister to the soul," says Sue. "I'm very aware that I'm not drawing flesh and blood, but love and devotion. My greatest reward is being able to capture a spark of life that helps people hold on to a lasting memory of the love they share."
Her art brings tears to her customers' eyes, smiles' to their lips, and healing to their hearts:
I feel honored when someone trusts me with their treasured memories, but I'm especially touched when I can help someone recover from a terrible loss or bitter memories. I've experienced such grief and found my art to be such a healing comfort to get beyond the pain and back in touch with the good. Memorial portraits can serve a special need when someone dies an early or violent death or after a long illness that blurs who the person was.
I want to use my art to help people weather those tough times of mourning and loss, as well as to mark milestones and celebrate new beginnings.
During her 30 years in museum education, Susan worked with organizations as diverse as Fallingwater, the Frick Art and Historical Association, the Center for American Music, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, and many more.
Susan found her niche by combining her art, writing, and teaching skills to create programs that helped museums engage young visitors in active discovery. She also trained teachers to use interactive techniques to use museums and their own neighborhoods as learning laboratories. Her work integrating arts into the curriculum became nationally known.
In the 1990s she worked for public television station WQED, writing the viewer and teacher guides for a film about the White House, a natural extension to her work in historic preservation. Then she was hired to write educational materials for their national productions in science and health and the humanities. She was part of the team that moved WQED into interactive multimedia, producing their first CD-ROM and website.
In 1996 Susan combined her experience as a freelance producer of educational materials and websites for museums, public broadcasting, and other nonprofits. Clients knew her as a web designer, a media educator, a history educator and an author. Titles included an elementary textbook Pennsylvania Our Home and curriculum guide Voices Across Time: American History through Music. Sometimes even she forgot she was an artist first!
I loved my career, but I had wandered far away from art, which was my first love. A bout with cancer sounded the wake-up call. In my 50s, I realized "If not now, when?" I am now three years into what I affectionately call my "Extreme Career Makeover", being a starving artist in my 50s, instead of in my 20s and I am grateful for the second chance to fulfill my dreams.
Let Susan capture the spirit of a person or pet; create a lasting memorial to a loved one, honor the heroics of an ancestor, or help you work through a tragedy with the healing power of art:
- Contact Susan Donley at 412-212-3223 (tollfree Google Voice number) to discuss how she can capture a dream, a vision, or a memory through a custom portrait of someone close to your heart.
- Visit http://www.SusanDonley.com and http://www.PetsPictured.com for examples of her work.