Monthly Archives: October 2014

I LOVE The Internet

Beautiful women are just so much fun to look at.  As are women who know how to dress – on the flashy side with a real sense of fashion and style and drama and what makes them look good (boy would you not know I have this interest by looking in MY closet!).

In my own head there is the work I do now, and everything else is B.A.  Before Abstract.  The B.A. period was full of beautiful women, and an obvious fashion element…

MARCI MCDONALD | dashade | silkscreen | 1991

MARCI MCDONALD | circlet | silkscreen | 1991

… and so at that time a collectibles marketer (Bradford Exchange) commissioned me to do a series of paintings for a set of plates with a very Erte-esque art deco theme.  I liked this one best…

MARCI MCDONALD | tango dancers | acrylic on board | c.1990

… and was looking online for a picture of the actual plate for my adorable sister who is working on an archive of sorts for my website.  (  A search for “tango dancers” led me to the work of Brazilian artist Juarez Machado, and I HAVE to put some examples here…

Juarez Machado05

Juarez Machado 1941 Brasilian painter - Tutt'Art@ (26)


… even though my own images look a little pale next to his.  I absolutely LOVE some of his paintings.  And he is incredibly prolific, also a sculptor.  I had trouble with his translated website ( but there are a ton of images to see just searching his name.  GAWD I love the Internet.

Keeping It Light

Too dark, too many shapes, too defined… I only want to suggest shape…

MARCI MCDONALD | painting in progress |October 2014

… I’m still working on this, and my next step is to layer light colors over areas I feel are too dark.  Light over dark can yuekd juicy surprises, but can just as easily look overworked.

I know less is best, and I will get a consistently lighter hand.  I’m working on it.



Am I Lucky Or What

Whenever I’m painting and it’s going well, whichever part of the process I’m involved in (presently there are two, quite different from each other) is my ~favorite~.  I work away thinking “I love doing this.  I like this best.”

How lucky is that.  How many people get to say that about what they’re supposed to be doing?  (I did just have to go back and change the opening phrase from “Whenever I’m working…” because work – actually making a living from painting – involves all kinds of things I don’t like even a little.  And this is just about painting. 

The canvas goes back and forth between table and easel several times before it’s finished… today so far has been at the easel, working with airbrushes…

MARCI MCDONALD | painting in progress | October 2014

… on the canvas that started here  (see 10-15-14 post)…

MARCI MCDONALD | painting in progress | October 2014

… and on that day I was sure pouring and throwing paint with abandon was definitely the best.  Pretty lucky.




This canvas was set aside a while back because there were areas I liked in spite of having worked it to death, and I wasn’t sure how to fix it.  Last week I was down with a cold, and thought poking at something that was already started might be a good way to get really rolling again.

MARCI MCDONALD | painting in progress | October 2014

But things only got murkier…

MARCI MCDONALD | painting in progress 2 | October 2014

… so I played with lights, basically starting over but hoping to see a little of what was underneath.  And as usual kept pouring it on (I’m working on that! see 9-29-13 post), ending up here.

MARCI MCDONALD | painting in progress |October 2014

The ~impressions left by a dynamic force~ (see 9-20-14 post) thinking is still with me, so I started throwing and layering again with that in mind… we’ll see…

MARCI MCDONALD | painting in progress | October 2014 MARCI MCDONALD | painting in progress 2 | October 2014

MARCI MCDONALD | painting in progress detail | October 2014


Never Say Never

It seems I’m just not going to get the lesson put forth in the adage “never say never”.  No matter how many times it comes up.  And I don’t just say something like “You know, I’m done with such and such. I’m not doing that anymore.”  It’s more like “I WILL NEVER, EVER IN A MILLION MILLION YEARS EVER DO SUCH AND SUCH AGAIN!!!”

For example, in the late 90s, experiencing something like burnout after 25+ years of doing art fairs, I stopped doing art fairs, making the usual unassailable edict to that effect.  And I didn’t just say I was never doing another art fair, I was never looking at another art fair.  Ever again. 

So earlier this year when my adorable sister suggested we go to Mainsail – one of the nicer Florida art fairs, which happens to be right here in St Petersburg – I surprised us both by agreeing.  And then was surprised to kind of enjoy being there, and even more surprised to find myself actually entertaining the idea of participating!

There have been things to miss about the fairs and the constant travel – getting immediate feedback, meeting a lot of great people, being with my partner 24/7, room service… but all in all I’m happy to have gotten away from them, and to be thinking more about working with galleries these days.

Life after art fairs has been too quiet for me, and I certainly miss the money (although that’s more a result of my disappearing from art entirely, not just the show scene).  But considering exhibiting completely different work in that venue is what made me come home from Mainsail thinking that to actually do the show might be interesting.

Entering shows requires submitting photos of your display along with photos of your actual work, so this week I’ll be up in the rafters dragging down dusty old road gear (which of course would have been right out the door at never-another-show-decision-time if I’d had my way)…

Long's Park circa1998

… (everything is so SMALL… and so OLD…) and which would need to be at least double to accommodate the size of my new paintings… it could be fun… we’ll see…


Airbrush In The Abstract

I have a tendency to make rash decisions.  Regarding matters large and small, all or nothing kinds of decisions.  I’m not proud of that, but there it is.

So it was characteristic for me to tear into painting in the abstract ignoring everything else.  The decision had been made – in my mind I was now an abstract painter.  I no longer did representational work.  Or used any of the techniques I had used in my ~old~ work.  Nevermind that I’d spent years developing them, and was recognized for them.

Painting abstract and turning my back on anything from the past eventually produced some things like this (‘high and low’, acrylic on canvas, 48×60)…

MARCI MCDONALD | high and low | acrylic painting on canvas

… which I like well enough but could be anyone’s, and I began to think that some visual connection to past work was more important than I thought at the beginning of my transition.

Acting on the astute advice of someone much wiser, I reincorporated a few of my familiar practices into the mix of new things I was trying with such frustration, and found myself struggling way less to produce paintings I was at least okay with.

My representational work had also been done in acrylic, using an airbrush.  I was happy with the images at the very end of that period, and felt like they expressed some things that are really important to me (‘blue tattoo’, acrylic on board, 40×32)…

Marci McDonald | blue tattoo | acrylic painting on board 40"x32" | c.1995

… that meticulously refined, illustrator-y look still pleases my eyes but the accomplishing of it makes me absolutely CRAZY.  Like painting in a mummy bag.

I love long, beautiful curves and easy, sweeping lines.  They’ve always been a part of my work and I now realized I could incorporate some of those precise curves in my newer, looser paintings without feeling the old crazy-making confinement.  Now I just quickly make a lovely long line on the canvas freehand, either with the airbrush or with charcoal, and use tools similar to my old shields (sort of like French curves on a bigger scale, cut to my own shapes)…

shields on tables shields

… to develop the sharp edged curves, moving the shield and the airbrush along the curve at the same time.  Resulting in images whose contrasts between controlled and uncontrolled please me… (‘a path to all wonder’, acrylic on canvas, 48″x60″)…

MARCI MCDONALD | a path to all wonder | acrylic painting on canvas

… and that I feel relate more to work I’ve done in the past.  Not as loose as I see for the future, but happy progress.