As the Semiahmoo Marina café reopens, the whimsical display of art from Blaine resident Georgia Donovan will once again be available for the public to enjoy.
One of the paintings on display in the café depicts a man wrangling a salmon rodeo-style.
“I knew I wanted to paint a salmon and I thought to myself, ‘What do you have to do? Round up the salmon.’ So this painting became Salmon Roundup,” Donovan said with a laugh.
This is just one of many paintings Donovan has done that are inspired by play on words.
“I usually think of a title before I know what I’m going to paint,” she said, explaining that she likes to keep things lighthearted.
Donovan got her start in painting doing animal portrait commissions. Now, after creating a career from painting, she still continues to paint many animals, one of her favorites being the crow.
“I like crows. Most people either love them or hate them, but they have funny attitudes and personalities and they’re smart. I use that as a vehicle for many of my paintings,” she said.
A painting titled Cocktails at the Crowbar depicts crows having a cocktail party is one of Donovan’s best-selling works of art. Prints of it are also for sale at the café.
Another one of Donovan’s crow paintings shows crows line dancing. “I knew I wanted to do a painting that involved line dancing,” she said. “I thought people line dancing might be a bit boring. So I decided, ‘What’s more interesting than people line dancing? Crows line dancing.’”
Donovan also has a series of paintings called Cannery Girls inspired by historical photos of women working at Alaska Packers Association’s Semiahmoo salmon cannery.
While representing history, Donovan said she strives to make the paintings humorous.
The first painting in the Cannery Girls collection depicts four women in a rowboat dressed up and heading to a dance after work. In their laps is a giant salmon, which Donovan said represents them saying goodbye to their work for the day.
While Donovan now spends her time playfully depicting animals and history, one thing she expressed as being important to her is reinventing oneself.
“I was counseled away from becoming an artist,” she said. “This was in the ‘60s, but I was told if I want to get anywhere, I should become a nurse or a teacher. So, that’s what I did and I became an elementary teacher and then I got my master’s degree and became a family therapist.”
Due to Donovan’s husband’s career, they were often having to move. Each time they moved, Donovan said she learned to reinvent herself again. When they moved to Canada, Donovan was unable to teach, however, she looked for ways that she could still help with the education system. She decided to help out with AIDS education, knowing it would be something that would be needed in the future.
“Seeing the need and seeing how you can mold your skills to that need is so important,” she said.
This mindset is what led Donovan to start selling jewelry at Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island in 1995.
Donovan said she still focuses on continual growth, crediting it as something that helps her as an artist today.
“The jewelry was a fit in the garden. Over here, it’s the cannery girls, the crows and things with the Semiahmoo water tower,” she said. “First, I please myself when it comes to painting, but it is also important to see what is needed.”
Donovan plans to complete a new beach-themed painting soon and has been matting prints of her most recent paintings for the café.
Georgia Donovan’s paintings can also be viewed and purchased at bit.ly/3eJxUWm.