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An old cedar chest holds remnants of Donna

Woods’ very first craft projects, most likely sal-
vaged from Vacation Bible School. When she was
13 years old, she painted her first mural on the
wall of her cousin’s bedroom, a depiction of
Holly Hobbie, the blue-bonneted little girl char-
acter popular in the ‘70s and ‘80s. At 50, Woods
is still using her artistic ability to manage her
own interior design business, Southern Art, as
sion. Each house ornament takes her about one
or two hours. She asks her clients to give her 3-4
photos of the houses to work from. Woods says
the idea just came to her before she fell asleep
one night about eight years ago.
“I just think the good Lord gave me that
idea,” she says.
Many of her patrons are from church. Woods
believes her best advertising being word of
well as to hand paint Christmas ornaments. mouth. One year, she said, someone placed an
In her small studio attached to the black and order for 20 of the same barn. Another customer
white checkered-floor kitchen of her Hattiesburg ordered 30 ornaments for her Sunday school
home, Woods meticulously paints houses, or class. But mostly, people place orders of their
other images, onto clear glass orbs on commis- own homes to give to family members or friends.

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After graduating from I’ll paint on it. If you stand still did not have the teaching gift. I
Lamar University in Beaumont, long enough, I may just paint have the talent and skills, but
Texas with a bachelor’s degree on your face!” she jokes, a not for teaching. And that’s
in interior design and a minor pewter painter’s palette pinned OK.”
in art, Woods moved to to her red shirt. Shortly after, Woods
Natchez to be closer to the Woods loves the business of returned to Mississippi where
antebellum homes she loved to art. she landed a job at Hederman
study. Under her mentor and “There are always new Brothers, a printing company in
boss, now deceased designer things in design. New types of Jackson. She also joined
Hal Garner, Woods learned a products, every person you Broadmoor Baptist Church,
lot about historic eras and work with is new. Every person where she met her husband,
restoration of old homes and brings a new experience, and I Gary Woods. Another connec-
antiques. To this hands-on edu- love people. I love helping tion she made at church was
cation she attributes her ability them,” she says. with Don Baker, who commis-
to not only paint homes but the In the late ‘80’s, Woods’ sioned a painting that Woods
faux finishing and murals, cabi- vocational calling was tested, says “put her on the map.”
net glazes, hand-painted furni- and she returned to school to This job brought back to her
ture, accessories and antiques, get her teaching certificate. She love of old houses.
house portraits, pen & ink com- learned this was a mistake. She As an engagement gift,
missions for personal stationer- taught junior high for less than Baker wanted her to paint the
ies and such, and ornaments. one year in Texas. Windsor Mansion, a ruined
“Anything that stands still, “I realized the hard way I antebellum home in Claiborne

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County, from a Union soldier’s “My eyes fell on that ad. with Mississippi on one side,
sketch. She was asked to put Again, I think that was God,” and on the other, the greeting
the painting on display at an she said. “Merry Christmas, Y’all.”
antique show and soon she was Slowly but surely, she start-
getting orders for it. She was ed cutting days off her work
able to use her employee dis- schedule. Eventually, Woods
count at Hederman Brothers to became self-employed full time,
make 2,000 prints. Soon, she shifting focus to her Southern
was shipping her rendition all Art interior design business,
over the country and the world, and painting Christmas orna-
including to Brazil, Germany ments.
Contact Donna Woods at
and Spain. For this Christmas, Woods
(601) 543-0340.
In ’95, Woods and her hus- began taking orders as early as
Donna Woods’ orna-
band moved to Hattiesburg, last February. In addition to
ments are available at
where she worked as a rug house ornaments, Woods has
Main Street Books in
sales manager for Anderson, painted renditions of historic
downtown Hattiesburg.
with one of her Windsor prints buildings in downtown
Merry Christmas Y’all is
hung above her desk. About Hattiesburg, and of the Area
$10, house ornaments are
two years later, she was looking Development Partnership’s dec-
$35, and others are
through the newspaper, and she orative swan. She is also cur-
saw the Secret Gallery was rently working on an order for
looking for a manager. the Hattiesburg visitor’s bureau

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