A South Charleston art teacher’s painting of her boyfriend, entered into an international art contest on a whim, earned her a grand prize win.
South Charleston High School art teacher Donna Wood is the overall grand prize winner of the 2019 Sargent Art Brighter World Teacher’s Online International Art Contest.
She entered three pieces in the contest and won with her first portrait painting of someone she knew, which she completed last year.
“Art teachers from all over the world submit artwork to them,” Wood said. “I was pretty excited. I just got an email on it a couple weeks ago, and I really haven’t told too many people. I’m just kind of floored.”
Her winning portrait painting was based on a photo she took of her boyfriend for an Advanced Placement training class.
“We happened to be up on the river one afternoon, waiting for some of his family members, and he was just sitting there, and I decided, ‘OK, you’re my subject matter,’ so I took a lot of photographs of him,” she said.
Wood started the painting at her AP workshop, where she was asked to paint one of the photographs she took, then moved it to her classroom, where she worked on it mainly during her classes.
“I had never really done a portrait of somebody close to me,” she said, “and I was just really inspired to want to do something to show the kids how.”
Wood said she wanted to do something for her boyfriend of five years while also showing her students how to paint.
Her passion for art came from her creative mother and grandmother, who she said always inspired her and provided her with many opportunities to work on a lot of different things, including art. Her mother and grandmother were teachers, as well.
“I’m a lifelong learner and love learning new things,” she said.
In college, Wood majored in two-dimensional and three-dimensional art education. From there, she worked as a stained glass designer.
“When I lived in Raleigh, North Carolina, I found a job for designing stained glass windows,” she said, “so I did that, and actually ended up working for 10 years on the side, running my own stained glass business in Charleston.”
Since then, she’s worked as an art teacher for 33 years in many schools in Charleston. She’s taught everything from international crafts to college art classes.
Wood will receive $2,000 worth of supplies from Sargent Art for winning the international art contest. She said the prize really isn’t for her but her students.
Her Prismacolor colored pencil drawings have been featured in the West Virginia Juried Exhibition multiple times, and she’s showcased her work in many arts and crafts shows. Her work, including her award-winning painting, will be on display at Delfine’s Jewelry during Charleston’s ArtWalk on July 18.
“This is one of my favorite pieces I’ve done recently, for sure,” she said.