During the Pandemic: A Conversation with Doron Putka, CM

By admin on January 29, 2021

Pictured above: Detail, Lemons, oil on canvas, 12”x 16”

Written by: Francesca Sinnott



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Pictured: Doron Putka, Self portrait 2019, oil on paper, 9” x 11”

Figurative artist and Copley Master Doron Putka imbues her paintings with a wonderful Mediterranean sensibility evident in the warmth that they convey through color and composition. Her varied subjects include: oil paintings of still life, portraiture, landscape and collage. Doron’s love for her art comes through in every stunning painting that evokes a beautiful moment, person or memory.  Doron moved from Israel to the U.S. in 1976.  Her eyes sparkle excitedly when she talks about “the joy of working with light and color”. She strives for abstraction, though is torn by her attention to detail because of her meticulous nature and desire for truth. Doron grew up on a Kibbutz in the middle of Israel and later moved to the Negev desert, a harsh landscape. “Living close to nature, I learned to watch for those rare moments, like how a bare hillside can suddenly be covered in wildflowers after a rainfall. I learned to find joy in the simple things. It’s all a huge part of me and my painting.” Doron joined Co|So in 2009 and is part of the portrait registry. She greatly appreciates the exposure that Co|So has given her.

Doron has been very prolific during the pandemic. Just before things shut down, she was painting a portrait of a young woman who she was drawn to because of “her gorgeous ivory skin and her stunning red hair”. “When she could no longer sit for me, I had to work from sketches and photographs.” Doron loves to work warm and fiery colors into her paintings. She finds portraits very exciting.  “I will know nothing about the person, but I love to imagine who they might be and then I might take some liberties in my interpretation of them, even inventing my own colors.” 


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Pictured: (Unfinished) Young woman with red hair, oil on canvas, 30” x 22” 

Doron took some virtual art classes during the pandemic that allowed her to explore more than she would in a normal year. “The painting class I took virtually taught me more about the effect of natural vs. artificial light on the still life. Working in black and white has helped me clarify my compositions and create more drama. Also exciting was using the palette knife because it allowed for some accidental and beautiful schmears that made abstract textures, shapes and colors.” Two of the paintings from this class are in the current Co|So Small Works: Tapestry Show running through March 28.


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Pictured: Black and White Still Life II, oil on linen, 9” x 11”

Doron enjoys painting group portraits that sometimes include her family.  “I have become very close to my family this pandemic year. They are my best critics”. Perhaps it is her Israeli roots but (as an Italian) I could completely relate when she described how much she loves painting the ritual of people eating around a table full of food. Inspired by Pierre Bonnard, she captured her two sisters and a friend in this painting.


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Pictured: Crepes, oil on canvas, 16” x 20”

When she is working on a painting, Doron likes to let time pass before going back and adjusting it. She prefers for her portraits the natural light from her attic studio, with it low sloped ceiling and skylights. She will sometimes close the shades and switch from natural to artificial light to imbue a still life with more color.

Doron looks for personalities in her still life subjects as she does with her people. She will start with 3” x 3” doodles for composing dark and light shapes. She will then recreate the image on linen with a thin brush in burnt umber, shading in the dark areas. Then she will work in color. “Sometimes a feeling I want to convey gets lost, and something else appears or I have to go back to it and discover the original intent or the first impression. Sometimes I make a change and have that eureka moment.”


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Pictured: Under the Green Stool, oil on linen, 8” x 8”

During the pandemic, Doron has also enjoyed meeting biweekly on Zoom with a group of women artists. “We work on our art, we talk about our art and we do a lot of kvetching. It’s really been a life saver for me”.

Doron graduated from the Bezalel School of Art and Design (Israel) and then the Parsons School of Art and Design (New York). She began as an illustrator then transitioned to painting 30 years ago. She cites Paul Cézanne and contemporary British painters Diarmuid Kelly and Celia Paul as influences. For 17 years, Doron worked with kids as an assistant teacher at Francis Jacobson Early Childhood Center in Brookline. “The kids taught me how to be instinctive and loosen up.”

Seven years ago Doron began to explore collage. “I like it because it makes me work in abstraction.” After taking a class in Italy with painters Israel Hershberg and Ken Kewley, Doron learned to do landscape studies using shapes cut from paper. “Collage started out as a means of sorting out the composition form and color for my paintings, but then I began to do it for its own sake and have included my collage work in exhibitions (small images, about 8” x 5”). Last year she taught a collage class and the proceeds went to the Sister District Project.


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Pictured: Sisters on the Beach, collage, 8” x 5.5”

“If I can give any advice to other artists, make your work the most important thing in your life and be open to feedback. Learn from your mistakes and keep working and trying new things.” More of Doron’s paintings can be found on her Instagram and her website.

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Pictured: Galilee Hills, oil on linen, 12” x 12”