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Donna Rivers

Outback Artist

In today's modern world of fast-paced technology and demanding lifestyles, we oftentimes forget to reflect and understand our own emotions, thoughts, and experiences. As a result, life becomes a blur, and it's not uncommon that we might forget what truly makes the lives we lead incredible in the first place.

For many, art has been a gateway that allows us to slow down and take in the world around us. For Outback artist Donna Rivers, art has become more than just a painting or a splash of acrylic – it becomes an expression of emotions that cannot be felt through just words. For Donna Rivers, art is self-exploration, and ever since falling into the art world unexpectedly, it has become a way of life.

Abstract Art


“I’m basically self-taught,” said Donna in an interview with Red Ridge. “I started painting for therapy in 2007, and it took off from there. My process is mostly about capturing movement, so I start off a piece of work usually by wiping my brushes on the canvas just to get something on there. I never plan to paint anything in particular – I don’t sit down and think, ‘I’m going to paint a flower’. I just start painting and it all comes through. Something in the paint will take over, and whenever I get to the end, I’m always surprised by what’s on my canvas.”

As with many modes of expression, art has an endless array of mediums to delve into. But the experience of making and viewing art runs true for all genres—it is the way we perceive such art pieces that truly reflects on our personal experiences, feelings, and perspective of the world in a way that no other creative medium can. For Donna Rivers, abstract art is the platform she uses to not only express her own experiences, but to help others connect with theirs as well.

Art as Healing

Involving a community

“When I first started painting, I knew it was what I wanted to do. The first one I ever completed was one for my Aunt’s 80th birthday. I painted a portrait of her, and it was quite daunting because I’d chosen a huge canvas to work on. I knew she loved her chooks and her dog, and that’s what I wanted to capture in my painting. From there, I became more abstract, and it made me realise how important art can be spiritually to us. Capturing the colours, the landscape, and the animals in our area are all things that brings our community together in our experiences, because they can look at one of my paintings and see their own perspectives in it. They can come over and become curious in what I’m doing. Most importantly, I think art helps everyone in one way or another—through auctions or through livening up a home, I like to think that my art helps enrich the lives of those around me.”

Taking her art further, Donna has achieved not only personal success in her artistic journey but also recognition as one of Outback Queensland’s incredible regional artists through exhibiting 60 of her artworks in the Qantas museum this year. Incorporating old frames, canvases, road signs and jewellery into her work, Donna’s focus on recycling has highlighted an important stance on waste in Australia.

A Bright Future


“I like to reuse whatever I can find,” explained Donna. “I think we have a lot of waste in this world, so whenever I go to Longreach I’ll always visit the op shop and see what they have—old oil paintings, pearls, an earring, some buttons, anything that I think can get a second chance into something new. With the Qantas exhibition, a lot of my work incorporated these 3D elements. At first, I had no idea what I was going to do for the exhibition, how many pieces or if I should follow a certain theme or not. But now that I’ve accomplished it, it feels like I’m on the start of a journey. I sold one of my biggest pieces, and it was so overwhelming to think that someone wanted to buy my work and put it in their house or office. It has been an incredible experience.”


Now, Donna Rivers has made art an everyday routine, with her pieces all around her studio as constant inspiration. On a journey of self-expression, exploration and spectacular uses of colour, we can’t wait to see the next Donna Rivers exhibition!


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