Donna Neilson About
Donna Neilson was born Donna Mae Burt in Salt Lake City, Utah during the midst of the depression. Her Father, Leroy Burt, went to Nevada where jobs were being offered to help build the Great Boulder Dam (now known as Hoover Dam). Donna and her mother, Lucille Burt, joined her father in 1933 when
Donna was just nine months old. They lived in a tiny trailer built by Donna's grandfather until Government
Housing was made available to the men and their families who were constructing the dam.
Donna was interested in art from the time she could hold a crayon in her hands. She was encouraged by her high school Art Teacher and, as an adult, she took lessons from many prominent Nevada area artists.
In addition to these artists, Donna studied under Fredric Taubes, author, artist, and friend of Picasso.
In 1960, Donna and her husband, Les Friedmann, moved to California with their three children. There she became an active member in several Kern County art groups. Her work was shown at the Cunningham Gallery in Bakersfield, California where she received much acclaim and won many awards.
During the years, Donna was blessed with four more children, making her a very busy mother of seven.
Donna made many sacrifices for her family. After her husband passed away in 1976, she put her painting "on hold" to raise her family. Donna and her four youngest children moved to Boulder City, Nevada to be close to her parents and to provide a more affordable life style for her and her children.
Eventually, Donna made it back to California where she found she was unable to continue painting due to
poor eyesight. After having cataract surgery to restore her eyesight, Donna is painting once again to the delight of her children and grandchildren. Donna recently won First Place in her category at the Santa Barbara County Fair and went on to win Best of Best with the painting, "Erin go Braugh", a beautiful oil painting she captured spectacularly from a photo taken in Ireland by her daughter, Patrice. This same painting won an Award of Merit at the Sacramento State Fair. Another of Donna's paintings entitled, "City
Skyline" won third place at the California Mid State Fair in Paso Robles, California.
Today Donna specializes in animal portraiture in which she captures the personality and character of the
animal with incredible likeness. She also enjoys painting landscapes, still life, and portraits. She was
recently commissioned to illustrate children's books, one of which is going into its second printing.
Donna recently reunited with an old high school sweetheart, Fred Nielson. The two fell instantly in love again and are now happily married.
- 1278 Barnette Road
- Santa Maria
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