Artist Donna Helterbridle-Baker
Written by daybreak on August 18, 2022
Daybreak Star Radio had the honor of interviewing artist Donna Baker. This Native American painter brings color and texture to the canvas using her history as an Indigenous person, her experiences and PTSD from serving her country, and in a way that embodies flow and movement.
I am a Gulf War Army veteran and Native American self taught mixed media artist. As a child, I loved to draw animals and people. In the fifth and sixth grade I recall being the teacher’s aide in art class. I enjoyed helping the younger students learn how to draw and paint. In high school I accelerated in drawing and mixed media. In my senior year, while attending AP Art V, a slide portfolio was put together for each of the students and was sent to Princeton University Art Department to be graded. My submitted work was graded a four out of a possible five. Select pieces of my artwork were submitted in the 1985 Neptune Festival Art Show and the 1986 Virginia Beach Public Schools Student Art Show. In college, I attended several drawing courses and Art History.
Although I am a newcomer to the art community here in the Pacific Northwest, I feel that I have a profound enough background that merits my understanding and appreciation for the arts. I enjoy the works of Van Gogh, Frida Kahlo, Os Gemeos, Georgia O’Keefe and local artists I have met over the years. I love animals and enjoy nature. Spring and winter, being my favorite seasons, boast of colors, scents, and raw forms which have been my past inspiration for my subject matter. I have enjoyed abstract “pour” and “swipe” methods of painting using acrylic on plywood and canvas, and have experimented with the use of mixed media, mostly acrylics, acrylic pens, watercolors, pen and ink, alcohol ink, stippling method, charcoals, and oil pastels to create more abstract & contrasting works. I view my surroundings and take in all of the beauty I see; it inspires me to create more diverse pieces allowing my talents as an artist to progress.
My latest passions have been using acrylic paint pens on canvas or recycled material such as paper bags or packing materials found in shipped boxes. Using patterns, shapes. and bright colors to accentuate said materials, as well as, often crumbling the paper to create texture and depth.
I have created mosaic patterns on birds resembling a more native scene like the Pacific Northwestern tribes. I am fascinated with the creative process early natives used to create art to represent their everyday lives, to create stories which like written words could be forever journaled for future generations. It is my intention to take in the knowledge and ideas I absorb from these ingenious cultured artisans to create my own fellowship of nature & learned experiences my life has gifted me. As a Native American person who was adopted outside of her culture and introduced to a completely foreign culture, the issue of not being a “true Indian” and not knowing my own ethnicity growing up gives me a feeling of being denied not only of my cultural identity but also deprived of my tribe. My future art will boast a collection of “My Identity, My Tribe”. This will be a design of my own making of who I perceive myself to be utilizing my strengths, vulnerabilities, memories, discoveries, concepts, and interpretations of what being a Native American means to me. As ever, I am excited for the journey and opportunities that have been given to me.