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Meet Donna Howard of Official Boss Of Myself in Woburn

Today we’d like to introduce you to Donna Howard.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Donna. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I turned to painting when diagnosed with a bi-polar disorder in my forties. My regular work a day life in an office became impossible to continue and my focus turned toward healing what was broken. Drawing and painting had been a priority in high school and then in college. I wasn’t a particularly good student and didn’t have the focus to graduate or faith enough in my work to attempt a career in the arts. So I put away the paint brushes and settled into a job. It all sounds so simple but my life was pretty out of control. Blessed with a fantastic support system of family, friends and a few professionals I picked up my paintbrushes after 25 years and began to tell my story. On the surface my art is bright and quirky and fun. Hidden in plain sight are the stories of my childhood. The fear and the anxiety and the depression I suffered from my whole life was being transformed into colorful canvases. I used birds and dogs and cats and things to represent myself and the people in my life. I felt that I was ready to tell my stories but there was no need to expose the true cast of characters. I liken my work to a Bugs Bunny cartoon – on the surface its fun for the kids, but if you pay attention there’s something there for the adults as well. I never intended to do anything with my paintings except keep them like a diary. But I happen to be a prolific painter and was soon overrun with canvases. I must have 200 finished paintings and a dozen in process in my studio right now. Encouraged by the people in my life to show my work, my first solo show was in the Burlington Public Library. It was amazing to see people connect with my work and even more incredible was that people wanted to buy my work and take it home! I began to show in local coffee shops. I learned about “Calls for Artists” from local galleries and decided to see if I was “good enough” to get into an art gallery. In the past 7 years I’ve had more than 20 solo shows and have been selected to participate in over 70 juried shows across the country. Today I’m a member of the Cambridge Art Association and Gallery Z, an artist’s co-op in Lowell Massachusetts. I have a permanent display space at Gallery Z where I show my newest work.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It seems as though my life was one huge struggle until I rediscovered painting. Painting has helped me reconcile with the harshness of my past. To make peace with the insecurities and forgive the bullies.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Official Boss Of Myself – what should we know?
Well, mostly my “business,” Official Boss Of Myself, consists of me trying to create and sell original paintings. I have done quite a few commissioned works – and an occasional pet portrait I’m a sucker for a great cause. I do my share of donating work to help raise money for art education and a few other near and dears.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
The wonderful people I have been so fortunate to call my family and friends are all responsible for my success. They are part of my story and usually unbeknownst to them, appear in my work. There were two high school professors who were perhaps the first ones to pay me much attention that I would like to acknowledge as well. Lorraine Sullivan and Phillip Young were my Art teachers for four years in Burlington High School. They helped me to believe I had talent. To my surprise I have found them again! They are still together and are fabulous artists and fellow members of the Cambridge Art Association. Most recently there has been Artist, entrepreneur and Gallery Z owner Patty Di Stefano. Patty believed in my work and invited me to be opening show for her brand new gallery. I’ve been a member of this incredibly versatile Cooperative ever since.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:

All images are my original paintings

Getting in touch: BostonVoyager is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.


  1. Dave Wilkins

    May 22, 2018 at 8:13 pm

    Great article about great Artist!

  2. Rebecca Kibazo-Gasque

    May 25, 2018 at 9:24 am

    So nice read about your great artistic works & reconnection…
    My prayers & love for you and your art! Fight on good soldier!

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