Donna Gabusi’s “Avalon Autumn” is a stunning look at a familiar Long Island locale, but Gabusi’s work goes beyond just beautiful landscapes. “Lately I’ve been experimenting with old/young faces,” she says, “merging past and present, old and young.” Among Gabusi’s inspirations and influences are da Vinci, Monet, de Kooning, Picasso and Kollwitz.
How does living on Long Island inform your work as an artist?
The landscapes, the historical sites, the nature preserves, beaches, lakes, the nooks and crannies that people drive past every day and see but don’t really look at—there’s always something new to see, you just have to stop and look. People always ask me, “Where is that?” When I tell them it’s here, Long Island, they’re amazed and don’t believe me. I never know what will inspire me—a puddle, a sunset, dirt, reflections.
What was your inspiration for “Avalon Autumn?”
This is Avalon Park and Preserve in Stony Brook. It’s before you get to Stony Brook Village. It’s the place with the lake and ducks and trails. I love trails and nature preserves! I always carry a disposable camera. I love autumn colors! I saw the bright colors of the trees reflecting in the water, and I just had to take a photo. Then I went home and painted it.
How did you get started in art?
Kindergarten! My art teacher, Helen Bozeat, was demonstrating how to draw trees and how they grow. She was so inspirational, so enthusiastic—showing the kids how to be a tree. Arms stretch up high and happy! Also, Smithtown High School East’s Eugene Nafus, an excellent teacher. He taught everything—drawing from the right side of your brain, negative space, shadowing, faces.
What’s your biggest challenge as an artist?
Starting—how do I start? I stare at the photo for a while and take notes—where do I start? The background? The top? What parts are the most important? What do I leave out? What do I exaggerate? The other challenge is finishing. If I think I’m done, I leave it for a day, then look at it in the mirror. Do I have to tone it down? Adjust? Erase? Or just don’t touch it.
Where else can your work be seen?
Next year, at the Book Revue in Huntington in May, Mattituck-Laurel Library in June and Malverne Public Library in October. There’s a permanent display of my portrait of Sister Teresa Demjanovich at the College of Saint Elizabeth in Morristown, New Jersey. She’s up for sainthood; she’s also my grandmother’s cousin. I also have rotating pieces for sale on display at Barnes Gallery, Garden City.