Welcome to my Art & Travel Blog!

This blog focuses on art with a special emphasis on fiber and mixed-media art. The travel topics range from near to far-off places and look at art and design appearing everywhere, often in classes and museums.  Also check out my website at donnaleedowdney.com.

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French Meadow
My fabric and mixed media art is appearing in four Washington venues:
  • Bainbridge Island Studio Tour on August 12, 13, 14 — over 30 pieces of fabric art at the OHO Studio. (259 Ferncliff Ave. NE, Bainbridge Island)
  • Columbia Bank  — Now through July 30 — 4 art pieces. (249 Winslow Way E, Bainbridge Island)
  • North Olympic Central Library — Now through October 15  Commemoration of 100th anniversary of our National Parks — One quilt of Mt. Rainier. (2210 S. Peabody St., Port Angeles)
  • Poulsbo Chamber of Commerce — Now through 2016 — Original fabric art and some prints from fabric art. (19735 10th Ave NE, Suite S100, Poulsbo)

I hope you will be able to see my work!


Here’s a little information about my fabric and mixed-media art: I like to capture the moment with bold, saturated colors. To create my art, I use multiple fabrics, free-motion stitching, embroidery, thread painting, applique, beading, collage, dying, painting, needle felting, stamping, and other surface design techniques. My fractal- inspired designs explode into the infinite universe. They also implode to microscopic size. By investigating nature revealing itself in fractal structures, I see that an atom’s design looks similar to a galaxy’s design! After creating fractals on my computer, I re-create them on fabric and use embroidery and beading to enhance the designs.


Nature’s dance of life inspires my art as I manipulate hand-dyed and hand-painted fabrics and embellish them to reveal light, movement, and color. My designs encircle, spiral, branch, and wander as they simulate the universe. Underwater creatures writhe and struggle while my invented biological microcosm zooms in on life and its turbulent, irregular, twisting patterns. There is no limit to nature’s inspiration in its amazing layered networks.

For eight years I studied art, design, and fabrics through the Center for Creative Arts in La Conner, Washington, from which I received a diploma in 2014. My master’s degree in Comparative Literature, archaeological field work in the Middle East, extensive travels, and technical communications career stimulated my desire to create art. For several months in 2015, the Verksted Gallery in Poulsbo, Washington, displayed my art.


Weaving with Fabric — A Fiber Arts Class

BARN presented a fabric weaving class using simple frame looms. Caroline Cooley Brown taught the enthusiastic participants using a technique that she developed. We used fabric for both the warp (fabrics wound vertically on the loom) and the weft (fabrics wound horizontally on the loom). We wove on a “Friendly Loom Product” — a lap loom that Harrisville Designs produces.

Caroline Cooley Browne
Caroline Cooley Browne, Class Instructor

Caroline shared scores of examples of her fabric weaving technique as she answered questions about how she designed and wove her examples. Then we wove two examples — with the second project incorporating simple tapestry weaving techniques.

Caroline Cooley Browne
Caroline Cooley Browne

Caroline serves as a member of BARN’s Board of Directors and is an active fiber artist. Bainbridge Arts & Crafts represents her fiber art. The Bainbridge Museum of Art also features her work. Caroline holds a masters degree in fine arts from the University of Washington. She loves to spark enthusiasm about weaving among fiber arts students and anyone who is new to fiber arts.

Deanna Wilkes Booth
Deanna Wilkes-Gibbs Admiring her Project
Students weaving fabric
Students Weaving Fabric on Simple Looms
Intense Interest in New Techniques
Intense Interest in New Techniques

Article and Photos by Donna Lee Dowdney

Stationary Power Tools Class — New Opportunities and Skills

By Donna Lee DowdneyDSCN2963

Jeff Williams, instructor, and Sam Bardelson, teaching assistant, prepared safety instructions for using the drill press, scroll saw, band saw, and compound miter saw (alias chop saw and cutting saw.)  Then they demonstrated these stationary power tools so that we could see design possibilities and avoid hazards. We drew curves on wood and then made cuts.


I was surprised to learn how easily I could cut curves and free-form designs. The experience was similar to using my sewing machine to create free-motion embroidery on fabric.

DSCN2951  DSCN2962

Typically students take BARN Power Tools classes to become certified to use the saws, drill press, and other equipment and to demonstrate their competence.


Kate McDill, a BARN founding member, also learned to use the four power tools. Kate says, “My brothers were allowed and encouraged to use the power tools. It was my sister and I who were not.”

As a child, I also was not allowed to use tools because I was a girl. The BARN gives women and men the opportunity not only to learn to use power tools, but also to create interesting new objects! I increased my skills in a new area by 100%. Thank you, BARN!

Portable Power Tools Class Sparks Enthusiasm



By Donna Lee Dowdney

Recently the BARN offered the Portable Power Tools class as part of the Woodworking 101 series.


Dave Whitacre, Instructor

Dave Whitacre, the instructor, says, “I’m used to doing woodworking alone. The challenge for me is making the class meaningful for students with different levels of wood working skills.  Because it is an introductory class, it is intended to spark interest in working with wood and to encourage students to use BARN facilities in the future.”

Last year Dave moved to Bainbridge after retiring as a petroleum engineer in Alaska. Woodworking has been his hobby for the past 40 years.


Dave Kircher, Assistant, demonstrating safe use of equipment

Dave Kircher assisted in teaching the Portable Power Tools sessions. He says, “It’s clear to me that a key part of our classes is creating a nice product. Students were delighted that they could leave the class with a beautiful cutting board!”


Donna Lee Dowdney, student, creating her first wood project

Each student created cutting boards with arched ends and rounded corners by joining several different pieces of milled wood, including birch, beech, and walnut. After cutting the wood, the students joined and routed to round the corners, sanded, and finished the cutting boards by applying mineral oil.


Vin Chawla with Dave Kircher

Vin Chawla, one of the Power Tools students, says, “I was involved in this class because I wanted to learn more about woodworking techniques and about the BARN. In the class I learned three different techniques of joining wood including using dowels, biscuit joinery, and glue. I learned that dowel joinery requires the most precision and allows for the smallest range of error, while biscuit joinery provides great joint strength while allowing flexibility in application to account for less precise cuts. I also learned about routing to create round edges and the difficulty of maintaining the round edge around a corner.  Using routers and jigsaws requires a slow, steady, constant movement of the tools in order to avoid burns and keep the cuts accurate.”


Dave Whitacre and Vin Chawla with Cutting Board

Vin summarized his experience of his first class at the BARN by saying, “Dave and Dave were great teachers! The instruction was very good and kept things interesting. They gave a great choice of materials and explanation of using the tools. They were encouraging and helpful; the tools were of good quality and were well maintained; and the wood shop was clean, well organized — and great to work in! I’m planning five projects to use my new skills — and I’m joining the BARN!”


Stretching our Boundaries in Printmaking


At a recent fast-paced two-day class, students in the Bainbridge Artisans Resource Network (BARN) explored ways to stretch their printmaking boundaries. Curt Labitzke, Associate Professor of Printmaking at the University of Washington, demonstrated how to use dry point, monoprint, collage, and hand coloring with acrylics and watercolor to create surfaces looking like ancient frescoes.

DSCN2570(Above, Renee Jameson)

“I love to print,” said Renee Jameson, one class participant. “I created a figurative work, but I felt challenged by the ink’s thickness.”

Jan Branham exclaimed, “I need more energy! I attended the class because of the teacher’s art and reputation.”


(Left, Pam Galvani, Right Jan Branham)

The Seattle Art Museum presented Curt’s work recently in a group show. Bainbridge’s Island Art Gallery and La Bottega dell Acquaforte Gallery in Laguna Beach, California, also represent some of his work.


BARN Print (9)

(Above, Curt Labitzke, our instructor)

“I wanted to learn as much as I could about different printmaking techniques. I found learning how to use the dry-point tools and how to scratch the surface deep enough was challenging. I scratched a landscape, and want to experiment with over painting using latex paint and printing over the top of old prints. Curt Labitzke was an excellent and inspiring teacher,” said Shelley Minor.

BARN Print (11)(Above, Donna’s first dry point project carved in Plexiglas and printed on BARN’s printing press)

At the class, Donna Lee Dowdney learned how to create surfaces evoking ancient frescoes. As a former student archaeologist, she felt intrigued about how to incorporate images of ancient statues and artifacts into her art.

Curt also showed the class some original prints from past centuries that he uses as inspirations. The neutral backgrounds using acrylic washes with cut or torn paper also showed students possibilities for depicting ancient figures. The class inspired all the students to think about their printmaking in new ways. They look forward to having Curt teach future classes for BARN printmakers.

Gillian Bull commented, “I am learning monotype from Wendy Orville, so Curt’s class gave me another dimension. I found that it’s hard to etch into the plate; however, this was my first etching. I created landscape etchings and experimented with oil sticks and oil pastels. Hurray for BARN!”

BARN Print (10)

(Above, students working with the press)


(Above, examples of students’ prints drying)

Creating a Canvas Mat while Building Friendships

For many years, artist Lynnette Sandbloom has created beautiful canvas mats. Last winter BARN (Bainbridge Artisans Resource Network) asked her to teach a class, which she taught from her Bainbridge Island studio.


Lynnette Sandbloom, Instructor

Lynnette provided us with a primed and hemmed canvas mat on which to begin creating. She also gave detailed instructions as she demonstrated how to make our own mats and how to plan and create future mats. We brought ideas and materials for the mat design, and Lynnette guided us through the process of embellishing our mats using a variety of fabrics, textures, papers, ribbons, and even an old grain sack!

Lynnette said, “My only challenge was to anticipate the student’s needs before class. Because I make two different kinds of mats, next time I would clarify the project a little more, and have some homework before class began — depending on the student’s choice of materials. I enjoyed teaching the class. It was a talented and creative group. We came together not knowing each other, and by class end, we were friends. Floor mats have bonded us for life!”

The following photos show our alumni gathering at the Bainbridge Bakery, where we had a great time admiring each other’s mat creations!


Linda Younker


Donna Lee Dowdney


Sue Van Duine


Canvas Mat Class Alumni Gathering

To see BARN’s website, go to bainbridgebarn.org