Theresa Vandenberg Donche is an exquisite abstract artist with a fulfilling life. I got the incredible opportunity to visit her at Via Design: a beautiful, Old Town boutique design studio which she runs with her French husband. An emotional painter, Theresa stated “my paintings have to reflect energy.” I believe this is very much the case, for each painting I looked upon conjured up emotions and energy from experiences passed.
Entryway to Via Design in Old Town
As Theresa said herself, her life has been very rich with cultural experiences. From growing up in a farming community with Dutch parents to early experiences in Berkley and San Francisco, it’s no small wonder that Theresa loves to travel and pour out happenings and occurrences into her art.
The life she’s lived and the emotions that come with it make up the art work Theresa produces. Whether it be a political campaign she felt strongly about or the grief that comes with the passing of a close one, Theresa acknowledges how vital experiences, feelings, and intuition are to her craft by speaking of the “ebb and flow of emotions” and “the beauty of nostalgia”.
From the time she started painting 15 years ago, Theresa says “I’ve become much more controlled, in a chaotic way.” Controlled chaos: an idea I believe we can all relate to!
As a graphic design and art major, this abstract painter has always been able to express herself creatively. While Theresa has always been excellent with portraying line, form, and structure, her true breakthrough came with the help of Reed Cardwell at the Athenaeum School of Arts in La Jolla. Theresa states this is when she started truly getting rid of barriers, saying “Reed taught me how to be free on the canvas.”
In addition to breaking through barriers artistically, Theresa met 5 incredible female artists in Cardwell’s class and they went on to form an organization titled Art6 [west]. These phenomenal women gather monthly to discuss art, share laughs, encourage each other and collaborate for exhibitions. Theresa notes that she loves the great energy and amazing friendships that resulted. Personally, I think there’s nothing better than fellow artists supporting and encouraging each other!
Theresa believes that “abstract art is extremely designed.” She currently paints with Stephen Curry at the Academy of Art San Diego, weekly experiences that help Theresa to “stay consistent with my thought process.”
Inside the Artistic Process:
Over the years, Theresa has perfected the process that produces her art work. What starts as a blank canvas gets thick lines of black paint (a constant throughout all her series). She then uses Titan Buff to mask it out, followed by a squeegee sequence that truly brings movement and life to her work. Theresa then pencils a grid, following the general flow of the aforementioned heavy black lines. While acrylics are used for the previous part of the process, Theresa now switches to oils that aid her in better creating rich blocks of colors that she refers to as “parcels of land.” This technique is followed up by further (soft lead) pencil use in order to refine spaces, and glaze as the finishing touch. In addition, Theresa prefers to work on 5-6 canvases at once.
Her favorite art work that she has created is her latest: “The Aerial Series”. Her favoritism is due to the intense emotional connection that stems from these works, taking her full circle. Theresa says that when it comes to a series she normally “starts things and let them evolve until they fizzle out.” However, not so with this series because Theresa believes “aerial interest is endless.” Like much of her work, “The Aerial Series” (pictured above + below) is very personal.
Aspiring artists, take note! Theresa has some excellent, insightful advice for those on their own artistic journey. She smartly says “paint for yourself” and “don’t fall in love with your art because there’s always room for improvement, keep at it.” This abstract artist concludes that the best (and worst) part of being an artist is getting to expose yourself all the time by putting your work out there.
Visit Theresa Vandenberg Donche Online: