Q&A with Donna Mulholland

I first came across Canadian artist, Donna Mulholland online and instantly fell in love with her bright and beautiful hooked wall art! Here is our Q&A and a selection of Donna’s beautiful and bright pieces…

Hi Donna! Can you begin by telling us a little bit about yourself and your background?

 “I believe that a piece of art is not really a thing, it is an experience. It’s interactive, it takes you somewhere. It invites in memories or emotions or desires. What you experience may not be the same as the person standing next to you …or even the artist.” ~ Donna Mulholland

Known primarily as an abstract painter working in acrylic, I’m also working with fibre these days, creating colourful and expressive works that invite you in to embrace enthusiasm, freedom and possibility. More simply put, I make happy art. (Yeehaw!)

My work can be found in private collections across North America, the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Australia, and New Zealand.  I create and live in beautiful Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada with my husband and sons.

What inspired your transition from painting to creating textile art?

An artist friend of mine received a rug hooking kit from her daughter for Christmas last December and I was inspired by the fun she was having to drag out my own unfinished rug hooking projects and materials from twenty five years ago!

Next, finding Deanne Fitzpatrick’s YouTube channel and then visiting her store in Amherst, NS was a major catalyst. I connected with the creativity and freedom of her work. It not only resonated with my own painting style but it opened my eyes and heart wide to the possibilities of where I could go with hooking.

What inspires your work?

I’m a curious creature, greatly inspired by nature, colour, my intuition and the materials I work with. I love re-imagining my paintings as hooked pieces, too.

Can you tell us more about your creative process?

The process of creating is magic! The best ideas always come when I’m driving around town or taking my daily walk … and not when I am in the studio, so I keep lists of ideas on my iPhone. Once I’m ready to begin a piece, I start with a general idea of what I want to make, such as an abstract landscape, an abstract floral or a hooked version of one of my paintings. Then I use a marker to make a line or mark or two on the linen backing, perhaps a horizon line or a mark where I want the focal point to be. Choosing a few key colours and selecting some wool yarn and fabric comes next. From there, I begin and will pick and discard colour and wool choices intuitively as I go. At the end, I will review the piece and edit it to improve the composition and colour palette. (I try not to get too carried away with editing but sometimes a small change will make a big difference to the design).

Which other textile artists do you love? Are there any that inspire you, past or present?

I’m an Instagram-phile, so that’s where I find other artists that I love. All kinds of art inspires me, but some of the fibre/textile artists I adore include:

Deanne Fitzpatrick @hookingrugs

Jess Steponaitis @rughookerjess

Rebecca Holley @rebeccaholleyartworks

Lorraine Roy @lroy.art

Laura Kennedy @lkenneyrugs

Liz Alpert Fay @lizalpertfay

Marni Martin @marnimartinfibrestudio

Tansy Hargan @palimpsestparade

Trish Andersen @trishandersenart

What do you enjoy most about working with textiles?

I love the feel of the materials in my hands. It’s comforting and somehow connects me to the line of creative women who came before me, especially my grandmothers.

Do you use only woollen materials in your textile work or other materials, too?

To date, I’ve used mostly woollen materials in my completed works, as well as some  jersey and ribbon. I’ve also experimented with plastic bags, paper, canvas and cut-up pieces of old paintings to see how they handle. I’m looking forward to playing with a pile of old t-shirts and jeans of my sons sometime soon!

Do you have a favourite piece you’ve created so far?

My favourite piece so far was inspired by one of my paintings titled “Eve’s Garden.”

What are you currently working on? Are you able to share any in-progress photos?

I’ve been on a real “minis” kick this summer. I love making mini abstract landscapes and mounting them in small hoops and on small mini canvases. They’re fun to make and they work up really quickly.

What’s next for you in terms of textile projects?

My painting work is more abstract and my mind is percolating on the possibilities to incorporate more of my painting style into my hooking work. The differences in working with acrylic paint and wool offer both challenges and opportunities.

I’m planning to make more minis because they’re so much fun to make! I’m also looking forward to experimenting with more materials.

One thing is for sure, I will not be bored!

What excites you most about the textile and craft industry?

I’m excited to explore the creative possibilities of new materials, designs and formats; to be inspired by and chat with other artists (especially around the world on social media;) and to find new opportunities to show, share and sell my work.

We noticed you run free online classes, can you tell us more about these and the inspiration behind them?

I love to repurpose my art because it’s freeing to see what can happen! There are a couple of free projects for recycling art on my website here.

I’ve also included a 10-day creative challenge I came up with last summer to keep myself entertained. You can see it here.

You may have heard about our 2019 Eco Challenge to be less wasteful in 2019, do you have any tips or tricks to be more environmentally friendly in our creative endeavours? 

What a great idea! I love to repurpose old art, I save my wool worms and thread bits from my hooking projects to use for future projects, and I love to find old clothing at the thrift store to use as hooking material.

Material scraps for rag rugging

Where can people find out more about you and your work?

The best places to find out more about me and my work are: @donnamulhollandstudio on Instagram and also on my website.

Thank you Donna, it’s been a pleasure 🙂

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As always, happy rag rugging!

Elspeth x

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