ARTIST'S PORTRAIT * KELLEY MACDONALD















Kelley MacDonald is a talented painter based in Tiverton, Rhode Island. I first caught sight of her pretty landscapes and colorful still lives as I was perusing the Daily Painters Website. As you all know, I am drawn like a magnet to COLOR and Kelley's brand of eye candy drew me in. I was soon transported to the beautiful seaside in New England and found myself leaving a comment on her blog. She responded with a great deal of warmth and seems like a very spunky and upbeat sort of person, both pluses in my book! She has a keen knack for capturing scenes and objects in a very textural and colorful way. She often paints in and around Cape Cod. I thought she would be a person I would definitely like to learn more about, and she has kindly obliged me with answering some of my questions about herself and her unique gift.
Where were you born? Falls River, MA, a tired old mill town in Southern Massachusetts.
What is your artistic background/training? I was an Art History major at Wheaton College, in Norton, MA, then I've been taking classes pretty much continuously for 30 (gasp!) years. Lately I've been taking workshops with artists who have reached a certain level of success, and are nationally known.
When did you first demonstrate artistic leanings? When I was about 4 years old my Nana and I used to sit on the front steps and wait for Papa to come home from work. She'd always bring a clean fresh pad of white paper and super sharp pencils for each of us. She taught me to draw houses (triple deckers) and birds in the air. She'd laugh hysterically if she were still alive to read that this is what got me 'juiced up' to become an artist! But once the bug bit it never let go, and despite family and school discouragement ("Artists can't make a living... choose something PRACTICAL.") in my heart I was always an artist.
For my 25th Anniversary, my husband took me to pick out a big easel. I was so thrilled. When I selected one, he said "Now the REAL present is that I figured a way to live without your income... you can quit your day job and just BE an artist!". I stood there and cried like a baby! It was better than any gift I ever received, and more validation than I ever hoped for. (sorry to go on about this, but for me it was HUGE)
What subject matter seems to inspire you most? Does living on the Coast influence you a great deal? Landscape and skyscapes are what first drew me in. The one wonderful thing about growing up in Fall River was that it is situated on a huge hill facing west, and going to see the sunset at the park was common, and pretty spectacular on a daily basis. The more I learned about painting the more I 'saw' - such as the reflected light on clouds, and the further reflection of light on the water. And for the past 5 years I've lived right on the water and have a sunset view which is spectacular - it's such a hook - every day, every hour of the day, a different view. I've always been partial, spiritually, to where the water meets the land. It seems holy, but I don't mean it in any particularly 'religious' way.
What about your family, tell us a bit about them? My husband and kids are very supportive. And my sister's support is important to me, too. They all turn out for Openings, and say really nice things about the work. Friends are super important, too, colleagues who are all pushing ahead with their art and willing to share. Fortunately for me, I have some really good ones!
Do particular locations inspire you? Location is not supposed to matter, but it does to me, and sometimes just a change of location gives me a jump start on the creative process. Like I'll go to Mexico and the colors leave me breathless, and I cannot wait to dip brush into color and translate what I see into a painting. I love both US coasts, and Europe, too, and Sedona... All these places inspire me to put 'my take' on them onto a canvas.
What do you feel is essential to your well-being and success as both a person and an artist? Well, for one thing, peace in my life. So I'm not stressing about this or that. So I try to let go of control over relationships and the people around me. It's easier to be happy that way, and people tend to live UP to your expectations, if you let them know you love them no matter what. And, this is probably revealing a shallow side, but I have to be in a place that 'moves' me visually. I used to live in Brighton in Boston right on the trolley line, with apartments and sidewalks as far as the eye could see. The trees were really struggling, I hardly consider them trees.. no grass or natural areas... I was depressed for the entire year we lived there. Since then we've been careful to live in areas where there was green...
You recently spent a while in Europe, painting. Where would you live if you were free to live anywhere? Oh, this is killing me! OK. Paris :), or Petaluma, CA. ... or Laguna. ...Sedona, or... Wellfleet, MA, on Cape Cod... maybe NYC... OR..... right here where I am, in the Tiverton, RI area. Sorry... this changes minute by minute - I have a gypsy soul!
What are the most challenging aspects of being an artists for you?
By far and away- time management. Sometimes procrastination is a huge issue, if I'm self doubting, I'll put off starting a project. Rejection comes with the territory, but when it first hits, my response is to be furious! Imagine them not wanting my work! But then, usually, I grit my teeth and go forward. Because I know in my heart that if I keep working, I'm going to get where I want with my art, and I really don't care deep deep down, if anyone else 'gets it'. :)
Thank you, Kelley, for sharing more on your life and work with us! Why don't you take this opportunity to check out one (or all!) of Kelley's sites??