Donna Isham is a Los Angeles based figurative abstract and expressionist painter, working
primarily in oil, acrylic, charcoals and pastels. Donna Isham’s paintings explore beauty in its
many forms, sensuality and the ephemeral suggesting the spiritual and ecstatic. These concepts
are often articulated through the female form and it’s complicated readings.
In her figurative work, Isham examines female bodies that she considers the most poetic form.
These works are painted passionately and directly using both brush and knife utilizing live
models, photographs and imagination. The layering strategies of abstract expressionism
applied to the figure conjure the layered experience of the bodies themselves. The body as
record of its strengths and vulnerability, its seductiveness and evanescence. Color applied in
accordance with those vibrations, delicately and brutally. Figures emerge from their grounds as
if conjured by desire while others break free in lyrical line work fully defined while others reside
within dark worlds, mysterious and mystical. The viewer is taken on a journey through the
power of women inherent and imposed upon them.
These portraits and intimate musings stylistically render women and their qualities such as
grace, courage and compassion. The models are diverse in their representation demonstrating
these attributes as universally female. The painting’s sensibilities are light, handmade and
elegant. The directness of this touch is in direct opposition to the cold technological distancing
we are currently experiencing as a society. The symbolic beauty of these women is also marred
and stained and imperfect, demonstrating an every woman quality and the inner beauty within
Women have been the incarnate of desire, allure and vitality. Yet painted from a female gaze,
these paintings portray strength and dignity and a willingness to be themselves, oftentimes the
subject has as much to say to the viewer, as the viewer might comment about the subject. The
intensity of strokes, the palette, the right to remain or recede from the foreground – these all
invite the dialogue.
Isham draws influence from these concepts stylistically, and also finds inspiration from her vast
experience in the entertainment and fashion industry. Her position as CEO of Mark Isham Music
and work as a prominent film producer fuels her fine art and has lead to multiple opportunities,
including an upcoming large-scale, multi-media installation, Isham’s career as a fine artist has
also taken a philanthropic route, serving as the President of Artists for Human Rights Foundation.
As the President of Artists for Human Rights Foundation since 2007, Isham has also added
her creativity and expertise toward spearheading numerous programs such as film premieres of
human rights topic films, the Hope and Human Rights Speakers Series, and on the grounds
support – all in an effort to advocate for the awareness of the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights and the prevention of human rights abuses.