Thursday, July 30, 2015

DPW Spotlight Interview: Patricia MacDonald

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

To enter to win Patricia's painting, "Tulips" go to Daily Paintworks and click on the link at the top of the page announcing their interview.

From Patricia's DPW Gallery Page: 

I am a Canadian painter and am fortunate to be at a point in my life when I can paint everyday and travel and be inspired by both new and familiar locations. I studied fine art, art history and art education at university and those studies led to a 25+year career in arts administration and teaching secondary school art. During my career I painted during the time 'between' family, work and social commitments, and began to exhibit in and sell my work. (click to read more)

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting. Did you have any stops and starts in your painting career?

I started drawing and painting as a child, and that interest eventually led to studying fine art and art history at university. In my early working life art was more of a leisure pursuit than a daily practice. It wasn’t something I had a lot of time for until I was a stay-at-home mum, and though life was still busy, I was able to take some painting courses and workshops. When our daughter began school I returned to university, earned a degree in art education and began a second career as a secondary school art teacher. In this position I had to ‘walk the talk’, and thus developed technical skills in a wide variety of media, as well as an understanding of composition and art criticism, not to mention pedagogy. It was during these years, the late 1990s, that I really began to paint intently. I left teaching in 2008, and since then painting has been a daily occupation and a passion.

(click to view)

Enter to win by clicking on the link at the top of the DPW home page announcing Patricia's interview.

What mediums and genres have you experimented with?  Which ones have "stuck" and which ones have fallen away? 

Over the last 20 years I have experimented with all kinds of painting media: acrylic, watercolour, gouache, pastels, encaustic, and have often mixed these materials when it suited me. As an art teacher I had to teach all media, so experimentation was an imperative, and this gave me the confidence to take creative risks with media that ultimately affected my painting style and forms of expression.  These days I paint mainly in acrylic, and often draw back into my work with pastel.  I still paint with watercolour, especially when traveling, but also when I only have a little time or when I want to try something new. I love to experiment with that medium and the results will often point me in new directions that I then try in acrylic painting. I find the choice of media is often determined by the surface or support I am using (canvas, wood panel or paper) and what I want to express and the way I want the subject to appear.

My subject matter has always varied, and at times I have focused on still life, figures, animals, and more recently, landscape. As a painter I am always aware of my surroundings and searching for new visual ideas and motifs that can lead to the next painting or genre to explore.

Looking Pretty
(click to view)

Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?

My interest in landscape painting is relatively recent and is one that I will continue to explore, including more plein air work. I love to travel and there are always new views and locations to inspire me. This year I began to experiment with non-representational themes inspired by details cropped from my photos of water and water reflections and am excited to continue this work too.

Who or what inspires you most?

I love to visit museums and galleries to see both historical art and art being produced now. My favorite artists include Henri Matisse, Wolf Kahn, Richard Diebenkorn, Joan Mitchell, Tom Thompson, Shirley Trevena, Robert Genn, Bobbie Burger and Steve Driscoll. They are all masters of colour – and their work is a feast for the eyes.

(click to view)

What does procrastination look like for you?

I don’t think I do procrastinate when it comes to painting.

What techniques work to ensure that you make time for your art? 

I am fortunate at this point in my life to have the freedom to paint all day, and every day, if I choose, and I do spend a large chunk of my time doing precisely that.  Obviously time with family and friends, social events and daily living has to be worked in to my schedule and I am always happy to have those activities and social interactions in my day – but for the most part I am a pretty dedicated painter. It has become a passion, and I can’t imagine not painting.

Reel Girl
(click to view)

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

I am inspired by what I see around me, and find ideas everywhere - objects in and out of context, new landscapes seen while traveling, familiar views I return to each season, figure drawings done in a life studio sessions, water, colours - almost anything. I take a lot of photos but I don’t copy what I see. The photo reference is the starting point on which I base drawings to understand the subject and make it ‘mine’, to simplify form and develop compositional ideas. One painting often leads to another based on the same idea or theme, or a series.

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

When this happens I take a break from my regular art practice and try to create ‘differently’. That could be as simple as changing media, or subject, or doing some favourite drawing or painting exercises, ‘timed’ working, working with my non-dominant hand, basically anything that’s fun.

(click to view)

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

I am always learning, and always interested in seeing and exploring new ways of working. I try to be aware of key ‘aha’ moments when painting in order to take advantage of the possibility of trying something new or different.

What makes you happy about painting?

I love the painting process: loading a brush with juicy colour and the physicality of applying it to a canvas, and then intuitively adding more marks in spontaneous ways, watching shapes emerge and disappear, being in the ‘zone’, and listening to one’s inner voice. When ‘it’ all works there is a wonderful sense of accomplishment. Later on, I just enjoy the visual experience of looking at the results.

Thanks, Patricia!

© 2015 Sophie Catalina Marine

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