Artists have been painting outdoors for centuries, and now we’re going ‘plein air’ too! This month’s ART@EPL workshops on July 13 and 20, 6-8 p.m., will be held on the shady back lawn of the library next to the stream — and a few spots are still available.

Donna Needs, a local award-winning artist with commercial and fine art experience, will lead the sessions in place of original presenter Carol Perlowski. Donna’s workshops will focus on painting floral still lifes using expressive brushwork.

Each participant will have his or her own table (placed at least 6 feet from others) with art supplies prearranged. All materials are provided — thanks to a grant from the PA Partners in the Arts — for this exciting series of workshops offered in partnership with Lehigh Art Alliance.

Email Lauri ( or call 610-965-9284 x210 to sign up or join the wait list (please indicate your preferred date; both workshops are the same). Advance registration is required and space is limited to 15 participants age 16 and older.

Everyone is asked to bring a mask, sunblock and bug spray. We will have extra disposable masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer available. Rain dates of July 14 and 21 have been reserved in case of inclement weather.

Stop by the library and enjoy Donna’s work on display this month in the children’s wing.

About Donna:

Donna is a full-time working artist with decades of experience in drawing and painting with several different mediums and subject matter. She has a commercial art degree from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and has primarily been making a living as a caricature artist after studying with John Johns, the renowned illustrator from Pittsburgh.

She also studied at the Barnstone Studios, which she credits for giving her a strong fount of knowledge of academic drawing, design and composition, and color theory. She has also taken numerous classes and workshops with regional and nationally known painters, including T.M. Nicholas and Ken Backhaus.

We asked Donna to tell us about her path to becoming a professional artist:

I have a distinct recollection of drawing on the wall in the hallway of my childhood home. I was thinking it was so much fun. My mom believes I was about 3 years old.  She yelled at me and made me help her wash the wall. I remember thinking, “I get it, I can draw on the wall as long as I wash it off.” I was very confused when Mom yelled at me again, this time louder.
I knew from the get go I was born to be an artist. That doesn’t mean I didn’t have to work hard to hone the talent. I had wanted to be a painter but my parents thought it’d be smarter to study commercial art; that it’d be easier to make a living as a graphic illustrator. I determined I could do both.
I got a commercial art degree from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and began as a fashion illustrator for Hess’s department store. I’ve also been a caricature artist for decades. My painting style is impressionist, and there’s a bit of exaggeration in all of my art.

[You can view samples of Donna’s caricatures on YouTube and view more of her work on her Facebook page.]