Donna Petcoff Watson was born in Bulgaria just before the onset of World War II. From the very beginning, her life was met with all of the cultural, social and political discord of wartime. She was separated from her father for the first nine years of her life while her family feared the constant barrage of Nazi soldiers through her village. Later in life, other tragedies would follow: the untimely deaths of her mother, father and daughter and her battle to survive both breast and lung cancer.
Yet, Watson is the determined optimist, turning a tumultuous childhood and life’s later tragedies into inspirations for her creative spirit. Her paintings are rooted in the belief that art can resolve and preserve the spirit. The Overcoming showcases her paintings are not merely abstract compositions; her works are exercises in meditation and visual evidence of Watson’s steps toward coping and eventually overcoming all aspects of life.
Watson initially trained as a painter at the University of Toledo. She began by studying various master artists from art history. She experimented with watercolor, oil and mixed media until she discovered the appropriate creative formula to address the setbacks in her life. Her painting style is a balanced mix of Impressionism and post-World War II American abstraction; although her quick brushwork and color palette recount techniques utilized by such Impressionists a Claude Monet, her interests in formalism and psycho-analysis allude to such early American abstractionists as Mark Rothko. Although parts of the Bulgarian countryside can be recognized in some of her paintings, it is intended to represent Watson’s childhood memories and the natural environment that fostered her during those early years of calamity.