Friday, September 7, 2012

DPW Spotlight Interview: Jo MacKenzie

Each week we will spotlight a different DPW artist who will give away one of their best paintings. 

To enter to win Jo MacKenzie's painting, "Tiny Table 3," go to DailyPaintworks and click on the Spotlight Giveaway button in the top-left corner of the website.

From Jo's DPW Gallery page:
I want to learn as much as I can. If I am not learning, then the day doesn't feel complete. I live in a very rural area so this web site gives me a place to "play" with others. My goal is to keep it fun and take artistic risks.
Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

I first started painting when I saw an exhibit by Susan Abbott about 15 years ago. I wrote her a fan letter and it turned out that she lived only about four miles away. She was willing to meet with me and answer about 70 questions (I still have the list) and she showed me how to set up a watercolor palette and get started. There is no doubt about it, she "lit the fuse." I began painting full time about six years ago, after leaving a career as a Special Educator.

Tiny Table 3
(click here to see original image)

Enter to win by clicking the "Artist Spotlight and Giveaway" button!

Did you have any stops and starts in your painting career? 

In a word… many. I have had Chronic Fatigue syndrome since the early 90's and a serious cancer that required treatment for a year. I am considered disabled, but I don't feel I am when I paint. I do practice what I call exquisite self care. That means taking care of myself at a high level, but that has also seriously limited my ability to be out in the "real world." I have to be careful not to do too much or I will pay the price.

What mediums and genres have you experimented with? Which ones have "stuck" and which ones have fallen away? Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?

I jokingly say watercolor is my first love… I write its name in all my notebooks and kiss it behind the school yard fence. I really do love it like a girl in love for the first time. I just want to learn as much as I can. I don't know about layering or masking fluid or many technical things - I just work on dry paper, wet-into-wet most of the time.

Egg Shell Peony
(click here to see original image)

There's such a cheery, bright, I'm willing to try painting anything! exuberance that comes across in your work. How would you describe your approach to selecting compositions and the "feel" you're going for?

I was using the phrase "just do it"way before Nike picked it up. I have limited energy and time on this earth, so I make the most of every moment I have to work at getting better at the craft of painting. I'm happiest when I am challenged and don't think I can succeed. Just being able to try at something makes me feel more alive.

Air Pogo 2
(click here to see original image)

I have often said I love the feeling of almost getting to the to the top of a mountain or reaching a goal even more than reaching the goal itself. I think there is a metaphor for chronic illness in there somewhere, but I don't want to think about it.

What does procrastination look like for you? What techniques work to ensure that you make time for your art?

I do not have the ability to procrastinate. I've had health issues off and on for more years than I can count and never know if I will lose the ability to do what I love, so I wake up ready to work everyday. I can feel the clock ticking, that is all the motivation I need. Besides when I am deep in the process of painting I do not notice physical discomforts for a period of time, so it is an oasis of sorts.

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

I'm a magpie. When I see others doing something and I'm sure I'll never be able to do it, that is enough to get me thinking, "Maybe you can... why don't you try... maybe if…?" and that won't stop until I start to tackle whatever I have seen someone else do so masterfully. But mostly, I'm fascinated with how color, shape and value can make a form suddenly appear as if by magic.

Main Street
(click here to see original image)

How do you keep art "fresh?" What techniques have helped you avoid burnout and keep your work vibrant and engaging?

My motto "Never giving upping." I don't know if this sentence will make sense, but: I can't not paint. That would be like asking a dog not to wag its tail. Not possible.

I have noticed that I am working at a stronger pace since getting high speed internet a year ago and joining DPW. The feedback and friendships have made me work more and gain better skills.

What do you feel you are learning about right now as an artist?

Those darn neutrals. I am just starting to use them mindfully.

The other big one is "Ego." How not to let my heart rise or fall if I have a good painting day. I tell myself just showing up and participating is all I am responsible for. But I do sleep better when painting goes better.

Color Kitty Face
(click here to see original image)

When painting goes badly, I put my arms up in the surrender position, walk away from the easel and often mutter, "Jo Mackenzie: maker of chocolate chip cookies and petter of dogs," and then, after a while I feel better...

What makes you happiest about your art?

Being lucky enough to do it. I sometimes place the paper against my face or put a brush against my cheek and just feel those textures like a kiss. I told you.... it's puppy love.

Thanks, Jo!

© 2012 Jennifer Newcomb Marine

No comments:

Post a Comment

Hello! Thank you for reading the interviews of some of the amazing artists from Daily Paintworks! If you'd like to leave a comment on this blog, it will be greatly appreciated. If you don't see your comment show up, we recommend you try a different browser. Unfortunately blogger seems to have an issue processing comments sometimes from certain browsers, especially if you aren't using a google account. This is a problem on bloggers' end and not within our control. The comments on all posts older than 30 days are moderated to prevent spam.