Donaldson is a painter and sculptor working mainly in fibreglass. He was born on 2 September 1939 at Godalming, Surrey. He studied at Regent Street Polytechnic, 1957-58, the Slade School, 1958-62, and did postgraduate work in Fine Art at the University of London, 1962-63. He exhibited with the Young Contemporaries from 1958-62 and at the London Group in 1960. His first one-man exhibition was at the Rowan Gallery, London, in 1963. He taught at Chelsea School of Art from 1962-66 before moving to Los Angeles in 1966. Since 1968 he has lived and worked in London and Paris. He has received several awards including the Guinness Prize at the Graven Image exhibition, London, 1962; second prize in the John Moore's Open Competition, Liverpool, 1963; a Harkness Fellowship, 1988; and the Field Sons & Co. prize, Bradford Print Biennale, 1970. His works have been included in both one-man and group exhibitions in London and in several European countries and the U.S.A. He is widely represented in public collections throughout Britain and in Germany, Holland, Portugal and Brazil.
Donaldson began his career as a painter working in the pop art idiom. His work was characterized by the image of a young girl painted in flat colours without light, shade or modelling, and repeated several times on the same canvas as if it had been printed. During the late sixties, he began to make sculpturesque constructions based on architectural and decorative motifs, derived from images which he had observed in Los Angeles. "Iris" is one such construction. It consists of a complex rhythm of inter-looping folds and curves which, being slanted upwards in high relief, gives it a rather baroque character. Later in these constructions he returned to the female figure, often placing it life-sized in a reclining position on top of a column, and continuing the curved outline of the body to the base of the column, in a manner similar to the folds in this work.