The Artisan, No. 8: Donna Bouwer

Artist in the Spotlight: Donna Bouwer.

Sometimes, when someone comes along, you are instantly drawn to them. That is the way I felt when I met Donna Bouwer.

Her gentle quietness, peaceful and loving mannerism, not wanting to rush through things, explains Donna Bouwer, artist and friend of the Pagosa Artisans’ Co-op.

Donna says she has painted all her life. She still has the first little oil painting she did.

Her paintings slightly resemble Thomas Kincaid’s subject matter and light. Donna has always been drawn to painting houses.

Raised in a family of 13 children in Capitan, N.M., a good home and family life was security to Donna and it reflects in her work.

Donna owned a retail store in Capitan for 12 years, where she sold antiques and collectibles, and later expanded the business with a coffee shop.

Three and half years ago, she met Jeff Bouwer in Ruidoso, just a short distance from Capitan. This meeting changed Donna’s life. They married; Donna, a widow at the time, was prompted to sell the store, and they moved to Pagosa where they happily reside on the Lower Blanco.

Last winter, when snow was four feet high on the ground, Donna stayed in her home and painted and painted. When the Co-op opened, she had a good-size inventory and she was ready to sell her paintings

Make a trip to the Co-op and you will instantly recognize Donna’s paintings. She sometimes adds a favorite scripture or quote, which reflects her passion for the Lord and her life. She finds both very exciting.

She has also added jewelry and purses to her collection as another way of expressing her creativity and she would also enjoy passing on to others in the form of giving lessons.

I asked Donna, “What is your favorite scripture?” Donna said, “They are always changing, but probably Proverbs 3:5 and 6 is my favorite. ‘Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct you’re paths.’”

I asked: “Where do you go to draw inspiration from?”

“The light of the Lord fills me and inspires me, also the beauty around me, my family and just the pure joy of living. I love to reach out to people, and maybe something in my work will draw them.”

Donna sees the Co-op expanding and alive with lessons, demonstrations and events and maybe something in each of the buildings in the back that would make a center for the artists. “It’s been exciting getting the Co-op off the ground and I’m looking forward to seeing how it will go.”

Life in the Artist’s Lane

When I asked different artists what inspired them and what they thought inspiration was, they stepped back and had to think about it. This is not something that artists talk about. It’s a given. It seems like it comes with the artist’s temperament and the territory. It’s just there and it moves artists to set up their paints and paper and start creating.

The artists I asked all had similar yet different views and approaches. They all agreed it is something that happens, you can’t make it happen, but it unlocks things that are deep within.

The dictionary defines it this way: “Any influence through thought, or strong feelings or life that arouses effort to do well would be considered inspiration.”

One artist answered this way: “For me to be creative I need quiet time before I start, with no interaction with people. This allows me to open up to inspiration. Also, I learn from other people’s viewpoints, work, techniques and composition; and nature and visiting other places also inspires me.”

Another artist added, “Days off work and sitting in the woods, hearing the birds and leaves rustling and getting centered without my mind jumping all around, this would be a way for me to be inspired. I would say, having peace and quiet and calming down. I don’t believe it is conscience, but it just happens spontaneously.

“Something sets inspiration off. A beautiful painting, light hitting the mountains, water flowing down the creek, these things starts the creative juices flowing in me.”

“Light and color or when I’m driving down the road, seeing interesting shapes and looking at people, fashions, how they walk and what they are doing. If I get focused, I feel that I lose my spontaneity. I am not one to have things quiet, I want to have things happening around me,” said another artist.

“Deep calls to deep.” There is something deep within us as artists that responds to something of like nature. We breathe in inspiration. It is a responsive pull, we must echo back to that which calls us whether it is a childhood memory or a pleasant experience, we must capture the moment. Whether in paint or music, fabric or metal, stone or wood we must say, I was here and I experienced it and here is my recording of it. Where it goes from here usually doesn’t matter. We have captured that moment of inspiration.

How does one see the wind, where does it come from and where does it go? Only the movement of the leaves tells us. To second guess it or try to figure it out is like trying to lasso the wind. We who are given to inspiration need to embrace it and know that we have heard the voice in the voice. I guess that is why leaves rustle for artists!

An Art Center

The Pagosa Artisans’ Co-op has extended its boundaries and its vision as an art center to include some of the surrounding buildings. Look for our new sign, The Pagosa Artisans’ Co-op — Art Center.

Reasonably-priced street frontage spaces are available for artist’s studios. Be a part of the new and growing Artisans’ Art Center of Pagosa Springs. Three, 350 square-foot adjacent spaces are available, connecting with inside doors. Rental is $300 per month each, plus utilities. These spaces are ideal for retail, anything from antiques to arts and crafts supplies or framing, to artist’s studio spaces.

A call to artists: The Co-op is still looking for artists and crafters with gift items for the holidays.

Classes for oils, watercolors and acrylics are available. These classes are taught by Betty Slade, artist and teacher. Call 264-2824 for more information.


Friday, Nov. 28  — With each $25 purchase, receive a free pack of 10 Christmas cards by Betty Slade. Hot apple cider and cookies served.

Friday, Dec. 5 — Grand Opening for the Co-op, noon to 5 p.m. Ribbon cutting at noon. Drawing every half hour will include paintings, bear, jewelry, cards, stained glass and many more items. Champagne and sparkling cider with finger foods will be served. A 10-percent discount on all purchases. Music by Jessica Peterson

Dec. 6 and 7 — No tax weekend. The Co-op will pay your sales tax.