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Double Vision

Above: Don, left, and Ron Donoughe in front of “Homage to Indiana County,” the collection of Ron’s paintings that will be on permanent display in the IUP Performing Arts Center.

Last spring, IUP’s University Museum hosted Paint & Pixels, an exhibition of Ron Donoughe’s oil paintings and Don Donoughe’s graphic design. The artists are identical twins; both graduated from IUP’s College of Fine Arts in 1980.

The Donoughes grew up in the Cambria County town of Loretto. They planned to become art teachers, like one who had inspired them at Penn Cambria High School (Betty Seymour M’75). But, as Ron Donoughe writes in the exhibition catalog, “After a few career twists and turns, Don became a graphic designer in San Francisco, and I, a painter in Pittsburgh. We both credit the faculty at IUP with fostering much of our success.”

Don Donoughe writes: “At IUP, I enjoyed all the traditional fine arts classes—painting with Ned Wert [‘58], sculpture with Tom Dongilla [‘58]—but the course that really got me excited was Graphic Design, taught by Bob Slenker [‘52]…. The IUP experience taught me how important it is to really understand the problem before creating a solution. Each project provides me the opportunity to not only solve the problem but do so beautifully.”

Ron Donoughe paints on the north porch of Sutton Hall.

Ron Donoughe paints on the north porch of Sutton Hall. Photo: Keith Boyer

Ron Donoughe’s paintings are in corporate, private, and institutional collections. He maintains a studio in Pittsburgh’s Lawrenceville neighborhood and conducts plein air workshops throughout Western Pennsylvania. Within the last few months, his painting “Pittsburgh Winter” won the Clara C. Wittmer Award at the Associated Artists 100th annual exhibition at the Carnegie Museum of Art.

In the University Museum exhibition catalog, Donna Cashdollar describes the way he paints: “Ron Donoughe specializes…in plein air style—completed on site in the open air. He is inspired particularly by light and shadow. ‘You have to be on location to see subtle variations,’ he explains. ‘No camera can capture this.’”

Ron Donoughe’s painting of the old Indiana County courthouse

“Five O’Clock,” Ron Donoughe’s painting of the old Indiana County courthouse seen from the north, is one of eighty oil paintings that form his “Homage to Indiana County.” The paintings have been purchased, thanks to private support, by the University Museum and will be installed in the IUP Performing Arts Center. The old courthouse is now the headquarters of First Commonwealth.
Image courtesy of Ron Donoughe.

Over ten recent months, Ron Donoughe trained his gaze on Indiana County: “The goal,” he said, “was to visually record the region through my eyes as a painter. I wasn’t just painting scenery; I was experiencing the people and places of a region.”

“I just traveled with an open heart and eyes,” he said, “looking for something that called out to be painted. That was when my easel was pulled from the back of my truck. Almost all of these paintings were done on the spot, in ‘plein air.’”

The result is eighty oil paintings [“and 15,000 miles on my odometer”]. Each is 9 by 12 inches; collectively, they form an “Homage to Indiana County.” Displayed at last spring’s exhibition, the paintings have now been purchased, thanks to private support, by the University Museum and will be installed in the IUP Performing Arts Center.

Website work for Robert Mondavi

The exhibition included work done for clients as varied as Apple, Microsoft, the San Francisco Opera, and Robert Mondavi, above.

As a graphic and web designer, Don Donoughe was particularly pleased to have a public exhibition of his work. In “the digital world that we live in, images are fleeting, especially on the Internet…. That’s why the show at IUP was so special to me, to show the work that [I’ve] done over the years, because a lot of it is hard to find on the Internet. It’s not like a painting that’s going to hang in a museum for a hundred years.”

In describing his designs, Don Donoughe uses the term Gestalt: a whole that visitors perceive as more than the sum of its parts. This is the only way to solve certain communication problems for clients, such as communicating the quality of an organization: “When you see the site, you know that organization is a high-quality organization just by the way the whole experience is compiled,” notes Donoughe. “It’s the photo quality, the typography, the user experience, and the stuff that a lot of the users don’t even see. It’s the way the code is built…the way the copy is written. It’s how everything comes together.”

Website for a stained-glass restoration company

A gallery website for a stained-glass restoration company emphasizes the beauty of their work.

In the upcoming IUP Magazine Web Exclusive in December, Don Donoughe will narrate a slideshow of his work, showing how he puts his design skills to use helping his clients solve these kinds of problems: communicating the quality of a service, showing the importance of an organization’s mission, or raising funds to feed the hungry.

More of the Donoughes’ work can be seen on their websites: Don Donoughe and Ron Donoughe.

More from the Fall-Winter 2010 Issue of IUP Magazine

Back “Home” Again in Indiana

Back “Home” Again in Indiana

In this interview, identical twins Ron and Don Donoughe prove the point that you can indeed go home again and find a common ground in the bargain.

Oceans in Deep

Oceans in Deep

In the wake of last spring’s oil-rig catastrophe, two IUP professors talk about what can be done to restore the oceans to health.

Above the Caption

Stephenson Hall, Pratt Plaza, Heritage Garden, and a view from the sky


Highlights about IUP faculty members, past and present


Athletic Hall of Fame inductions, sports update, and the Coal Bowl Trophy

IUP Magazine Web Exclusives

Pittsburgh’s Funny Guy

Pittsburgh’s Funny Guy

October 15, 2010
Jim Krenn ’83 talks about how he came to sit behind the microphone at WDVE.

Honoring, Remembering Our Own

Honoring, Remembering Our Own

August 21, 2010
IUP honors those lost in service to their country.

Professor Shari Robertson and her daughter Brianna Robertson ’09

Diphthongs and Dahntahn

June 30, 2010
What distinguishes our Western Pennsylvania dialect?