From J.R.R. Tolkiens' The Lord of the Rings to Botticellis' La Primivera, Donato Giancola balances modern concepts with realism in his paintings to bridge the worlds of contemporary and historical figurative arts. His influences encompass visits to the local library and book stores as well as pilgrimages to the greatest of museums - including the Uffizzi, Prado, Louvre and Hermitage. Donato recognizes the significant cultural role played by visual art and makes personal efforts to contribute to the expansion and appreciation of oil painting that extend beyond his clients and exhibits. To those ends, the artist teaches at the School of Visual Arts in New York City and appears at various institutions, seminars, and conventions, from San Diego to Rome to Moscow, where he performs demonstrations in oil paint and lectures on his aesthetics. Born in 1967 and raised in Colchester, Vermont, USA, art was always a hobby for Donato. As a young man he would steal away into the basement of his parents' home to work on drawings, create his own art for games, paint figurines, read comics, and construct model vehicles and dinosaurs. His love of imaginative play dominated his childhood, both indoors and out. At the age of twenty Donato enrolled in his first formal art class, the beginning of his professional training. His skills were further polished while attending Syracuse University from 1989-1992. Immediately after graduating Summa Cum Laude with a BFA in Painting in 1992, Donato moved to New York City to immerse himself in the inspired and varied art scene. Formative years in the early nineties were spent as the studio assistant to the preeminent figure painter Vincent Desiderio, and long days of study in the museums of New York. It was then that his love and appreciation of classical figurative art took hold. He continues his training even now, visiting museums regularly, learning from and sometimes copying original paintings by Rembrandt or Rubens, attending life drawing sessions and constantly challenging himself within each new project. Pilgrimages to major museums are his preferred reason to travel. Since beginning his professional career in 1993, Donato's list of clients has grown to include major book publishers and collectors in New York to concept design firms on the West Coast: notables include The United Nations, LucasFilm, National Geographic, CNN, DC Comics, Microsoft, The Village Voice, Playboy Magazine, US Postal Service, Wizards of the Coast, Scholastic, Simon & Schuster, Tor Books, Random House, Time/Warner, The Scifi Channel, Milton-Bradley, and Hasbro. Merits range from the prestigious Hamilton King Award from the Society of Illustrators in 2008 to eighteen Chesley Awards from the Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists, three Artist Hugo Awards for outstanding professional work from the World Science Fiction Society, notable awards from the Art Renewal Center, and multiple silver and gold medals from the juried annual Spectrum: The Best of Contemporary Fantastic Art.