Blog: Artist Focus | Studio Interview with Elizabeth J Macdonald
Elizabeth J Macdonald
Abstract Mixed-Media Artist
We introduced Elizabeth's contemporary abstract art to the gallery two years ago and since then her work has been in particularly high demand. A local artist who paints at the gallery on weekends and meets clients as part of the commissioning service, Elizabeth creates diverse abstract ranges based on a variety of influences from meadow flowers to ageing harbour walls. Her mixed-media approach results in highly textured art which draws the viewer to look more closely at the intriguing intricacies of form and pattern.
This week we caught up with Elizabeth for a studio interview to find out more about her inspirations.
How did you come to be an artist?
I have always loved drawing and creating things but could not do a degree until I was in my late 20’s as my parents strongly believed “art” was not a suitable career and a secretary was! I returned to studying art gaining a degree in textile design as a mature student followed by a Masters in Innovative Textiles. Whilst queuing for some art to be photocopied for my finals I was approached by an architect who was collecting some plans. He wanted to buy my work as it would fit in with a development he was finishing in London. From that day on as much as I loved fashion and textiles, I started my career as a visual artist. I have continuously worked for private and commercial clients including hotels, restaurants, homes and offices creating specific art for interiors. I enjoy being an artist and all the opportunities, challenges and satisfaction it provides.
Describe your work in three words
Intuitive, evolving, experimental.
What draws you to work with your chosen medium/s ?
I work with collage and mixed media as it allows me the freedom to express what inspires me, such as surfaces, textures and movement. Whilst I enjoy sketching and drawing, I am energised by the freedom collage and using my own photography provide. Combining this with different paints and media excites me.
Does the area in which you live or any other areas influence your work?
Living in Chester is wonderful due to the variety of the architecture which influences the layering in my abstract and mixed media work. I regularly go to the coast and continue painting the sea as being on the shore feels great. When I lived by the sea, I was inspired to capture the movement and was obsessed with painting seascapes.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
My inspiration comes from all around me from the blossom on the trees to the patterns in the cracked ice on a cold day. I collect sketches, photos and textures of my world as reference for each painting. This keeps my work meaningful and personal to me and provides me with a sense of expression and a grounded starting point for my paintings.
Do you listen to any favourite music, radio or podcasts while working in the studio?
Often, I will start with the radio on as I don’t like to feel too isolated. However, hours go by and I could not tell you what I had heard as I become so absorbed in my work - I completely shut off to everything else.
If you could invite three artists or art influencers (living or deceased) to dinner who would they be and why?
Barbara Hepworth, as she was one of the earliest memories I have of being inspired by art after visiting her studio in St Ives. Monet, because he worked really hard and took risks whilst ignoring convention and following his instincts and became very successful. He also loved wine so we would have this in common. Then Hockney, because he seems very wise in his old age and entertaining, I love his recent philosophy on life and art and enthusiasm to keep developing as an artist.
What drew you to exhibit at the Watergate Street Gallery – do you have a criteria for choosing the galleries where you would like to show your work?
Watergate Street Gallery is established and has an energetic variety of artwork that accommodates many peoples tastes. With that comes accessibility and inclusion that genuinely embraces artists for their individuality and style. As an artist I appreciate the platform to exhibit within that eclectic hub of art that appeals to a wide range of customers whilst warmly welcoming the public. Both Alex and Eve are very supportive and happy to discuss new work, ideas and projects. They also offer valuable customer feedback which is important when producing work for sale.
What are you most excited about artistically in 2021?
Many things excite me about this year including working more with the public and commissions. After this social isolation, I most look forward to the freedom of rediscovering Chester and local areas finding new inspiration for developing my abstract paintings. Also, to continue my art for wellbeing activities including creative workshops, art courses and paint nights held at the Cavern@Watergate Street Gallery.