Marianna McDonald, originally from Louisville, KY, moved to Lexington, KY in 1977 after living in Germany, Ohio, and West Virginia. She received a BS degree in art with an emphasis in painting and graphic design from Murray State University in 1971.
After working in oils and watercolors, McDonald discovered the versatile world of soft pastels in 1982 and has concentrated on developing her expressive coloration to the landscape with pastels. She is most interested in light and shadow as it falls across the land illuminating shapes and atmosphere. McDonald participates in 12 outdoor art fairs per year. Her work is carried in 4 regional galleries and she teaches pastels to adults.
“I'm a landscape artist using either soft pastels and oils. My pastel work is created on sanded pastel paper and for some work I use an oil wash for the underpainting before applying the pastel,” states McDonald.
"I prefer to create pieces larger than 24"x30" in oils. I create images from actual places preferring to use nature's information and inspiration for my resource. The Appalachian landscape is so variable and beautiful that I never tire of depicting scenes from Kentucky and West Virginia. As I travel this country and the world I enjoy depicting scenes from the new places I have visited. I paint what I see, but distill the details of nature to focus on the essence of the landscape, adjusting the color to emphasize the light and shadow. I hope the viewer connects to the sense of place that attracted me to the scene.”
LAL (Lexington Art League): What inspires you to create art?
MM (Marianna McDonald): Nature
LAL: What media are you typically drawn to use? What appeals to you about those media?
MM: Pastels because of the brilliant colors and immediacy of the media
LAL: What inspires you the most to create new works of art?
MM: Scenes in nature with strong light and shadow creating dynamic compositions
LAL: For Backroads Hayrolls, was there any specific inspiration for you to use this setting for your work? If so, what about this setting inspired you?
MM: Backroads Hayrolls was a scene on a Backroad in TN to avoid the traffic around pigeon forge. Movement in the composition for the eye to go from the hayrolls through the field and up into the mountains, even the little road and electric poles moved the eye through the scene.
LAL: Does this work match thematically with other works you have done? If not, what makes Backroads Hayrolls stand apart from your other works?
MM: This work is my usual theme of nature.
LAL: What was the process that went into the creation of Backroads Hayrolls?
MM: In this instance there was no time for Plein air, so good reference photos were essential. Then a black and white thumbnail to study the values and composition. After a smaller version as a study, and then the large one.
LAL: Do you have any artists that inspire you? What about their work inspires you?
MM: Wolf Kahn for his color and Susan Ogilvie for composition, technique and color
LAL: What goal do you typically hope to accomplish whenever you create a new work?
MM: To interpret nature. I Don't just copy what's in front of me I want to bring some emotion to the scene.
LAL: Are there any pieces of art that you are the most proud of?
MM: I'm most proud of my series of "Nearby Creeks-End of Autumn." I created 12 in the series of which one was accepted to Pastel Society of America annual exhibit and another won 5th place in landscapes in Pastel Journals "Pastel 100"
LAL: Do you have any advice for aspiring artists?
MM: To work at your art every day, even if there's only time to sketch for 15 minutes - do it. In Malcolm Gladwells book "Outliers" he talks about working 10,000 hours in your area of interest before you can hope to obtain a level of proficiency.
Visit her website to see more of her beautiful artwork: mcdonaldfineart.com
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All Lexington Art League programs are made possible through the generous support of LexArts. LexArts allocation of $50,000 represents the largest single donation to the operations of the Lexington Art League.
The Kentucky Arts Council, a state arts agency, provides operating support to the Lexington Art League with state tax dollars and federal funding from the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support provided by Lexington Parks & Recreation.