Having only moved to Cornwall last year I am really keen to search out other Cornish artists and find out more about their art and how they find Cornwall. For me it’s about expanding my knowledge and my network; discovering about Cornwall and how it inspires people. One of the names which kept coming up in my searches was Melanie McDonald. I had to find out more.
Interview with Cornish Artist Melanie McDonald
It’s easy to see why Melanie’s paintings are so popular – you can just dive back into your seaside holiday memories!
1. I can see from your website that you were born in London – but
I’m admiring Cornwall landscapes; how did you get started as an artist?
I’ve always loved art! I have a degree in printed textile design, and worked throughout my twenties in Henley-on-Thames in my own interiors-based shop. I grew up in Cornwall, and really missed it! So moved back to study fine art painting at Falmouth University, (and to start a family!). I opened my own gallery in Truro, which I ran for three happy years… In the end I decided to concentrate on painting and I’ve never looked back!
2. Who are your biggest influences on your art and why?
I love beautiful paintings! I like to see ‘joy’ in art. I’m interested in the idea of ‘freedom’. I most admire artists for their stunning use of colour and for their ‘attitude to life’; such as the amazing David Hockney… and other wonderful artists such as Matisse, Monet, Gauguin, Picasso, Van Gogh. Cornwall artists I love are Kurt Jackson, Judy Buxton, Lisa Wright, Terry Frost, Paul Wadsworth. Cornwall artists I love are Kurt Jackson for his ‘deep down and dirty’ sense of places, Judy Buxton for her gorgeous ethereal paintings, Lisa Wright’s stunning use of black and theatre inspired art, Paul Wadsworth’s glitter, flowers and arches.
3. Is there an artwork you are most proud of and why?
I’m proud of all of my commissioned paintings which have given such joy to clients. One of my favourites is ‘Doom Bar’ which is 6 x 4 feet, depicting a family walk at Rock. There is so much drama in the painting! The effects of shimmering light and building cloud-forms, plus the client’s family and dogs, (and a magical pink line especially requested!), did look pretty cool in the client’s home!!
4. How do you know when a painting is finished?
It’s instinctual really, some-how a painting just ‘shuts me out’! I don’t like a painting to appear like ‘hard work’, so I sometimes stop, face the work to the wall, and come back to it a month or so later.
5. How have you developed your career?
By keeping things fresh and new I hope to keep people interested in my artwork. I really enjoy showing my paintings in galleries, so that people can see them in real life. And I’m proud to offer my own limited edition prints of my paintings which are only available through my website – it’s so much fun selling direct and getting to know people who love my art! I think for most artists trying to make a living from their art, it’s a case of working hard and ‘showing up’!
6. What is the best method for people to get in touch with you?
Thanks so much for the interview Diane!
I really like her deceptively simple paintings; they conjure up memories of the seaside, particularly when she uses her iconic device of having people and surfers walking along the beach. Look at the amazing zigzag drips in the above! Yet I’m not fooled – I can tell that real skill and imagination goes into creating these pieces and generating something magical which I can’t quite put my finger on – and I’m glad I can’t – they are just a joy to explore.
I particularly relate to the part about leaving an artwork and coming back to it later. I have found that sometimes I can work on a piece and it does turn into hard work! At this point sometimes I sit back and wonder why I’m doing this to myself – so the advice of walking away and coming back to it is an excellent one. Art should be fun!
I also agree that getting people in front of the live painting rather than an image on screen makes a world of difference. After seeing my work on screen most of the time I then look at my actual painting and surprise myself – it’s often better than I remember!
Thanks to Melanie for the interview – she is such a warm and lovely person and I’m truly inspired by her paintings. I must go, it’s the Easter weekend with British weather – so time to paint!