Donna J. Setterlund
THE STORY BEHIND THE PAINTINGS
From “Talking About the Books”
A series of earthquakes shook Donna’s little community, causing major damage. Their family lost their home, personal possessions, and income. Their teenage children had to go live with family and friends in another town. Donna and her husband were homeless, but being separated from their kids truly broke her heart. Despair and sadness can be so overwhelming when life just keeps demanding more and more. Life was a real mess again, and Donna desperately searched for a way to make things better.
Depression overwhelmed Donna, looking at the debris of their home. She felt just like that devastated house, but while sorting through the pieces, she found her paint box. That was the day she started painting again, and her mind flew to a magical land of fantasy creatures and castles. All the things she loved as a child started to appear on canvas, and the more she painted, the better she felt.
She thought about her childhood and all the choices she had made, and some choices that were made for her, which led to this place in time. Donna wanted to go back and do things over. She really wanted to stay in her imaginary world where there was no worry, and she could do and be anything. As she painted, a character of herself as a teen appeared beside a unicorn and a tiny fairy. What fun! She named the character Jeannie, her middle name.
Donna kept painting more fantasy creatures, castles, and magical places. All the paintings made people ask questions, and that made her think some more. She loved to write short stories; so, why not create a story about the characters in her paintings? But what kind of story should she write? Donna had been advised to write about what she knew best, but what Donna knew best was her own life, and all the things that had happened to her were the source of her frustration and confusion. She thought writing about all the stuff that went on in her life would be depressing. Then she figured that maybe she could ask the questions or “re-live” the issues of her life in such a way that she could get answers and then make all the bad things and sadness have happy endings. Donna started asking me, her character, a bunch of questions, but I didn’t know how to answer them until she figured out what I should say. It took 30 years of creating, improving production skills, and rewriting the stories, to create the existing series.
It has all been an amazing adventure!
This canvas painting was the first Donna created. It inspired her to create the series Serendipity World of Zontoria.
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