Don Rainville was born in Salem, Massachusetts and presently lives in midcoast, Maine where he maintains his studio. Foregoing acceptance to art school at the Massachusetts College of Art, he parlayed his interest in the natural world by attending the Essex Institute of Agriculture in Hawthorne, Massachusetts, studying Forestry and Ornamental Horticulture. Upon graduation, Don entered the world of high end antique and art restoration. For twenty years, he was able to hone colorist skills and the ability to experiment with diverse materials; the consistent nature of such refined work is in direct contrast to how he approaches painting.
Employing action techniques, his works have been likened to landscapes of "abstract realism." Don paints in house oils, using torn shapes of lightweight cardboard and plant clippings rather than brushes; by doing so, paint to a greater degree can dictate form. Don’s paintings begin with abstract intensity, leading to a concentrated focus on refinement—the last 10% of any painting takes 90% of the time to complete—and most of his paintings take several months to finish.
Primarily, his work focuses on “treescapes” and the never ending inspiration provided by Maine and New England forests—Don likens his paintings to orchestrations of visual music, much like jazz which is different from more formalized concepts of music. His paintings are invented as they proceed, and as each portion of the composition comes forward on a moment by moment basis, the components are random and abstract, yet consciously orchestrated—the growth of a living forest works in much the same way.
Don works to create paintings where a viewer feels themselves present within the scene to a point where there is an actual unconscious desire or instinct to use all of one's senses, not just sight. "I believe a naturally wild landscape is the greatest form of abstraction, and as such it cannot be truly recreated or transferred as an image: it can only be captured in the emotions it stirs within us."
“Donald Rainville shows us that Jackson Pollock’s imaginative imagery in painting is not an end point. Rather, it is a beginning for many ways of expression that can focus our attention on the critical issues we face in our natural environment today.
Pollock was asked by artist Hans Hoffman why he didn’t paint from nature. His reply was that ‘I am nature.’ It is this theme of being in nature that I find is the essence of Rainville’s art.
Rainville’s superb compositions of nature, especially trees and blossoms, are blended with free-flowing Pollock-like motifs. It is this combination that makes his paintings some of the finest art being made today.”
James T. Valliere
Author and Art Historian
James Valliere was the first researcher to work with Lee Krasner, organizing the Jackson Pollock catalogue raisonné and researching Pollock’s papers from 1963 to 1965. His article on Pollock’s Old Master’s influence was published in Art Journal and his interviews with Pollock’s contemporaries are in the archives of American Art. Valliere’s index of Pollock’s library, with Francis V. O’Connor, is published in Jackson Pollock, A Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings, Drawings, and Other Works.