Author Archives: Marci McDonald

Feature Article

I’m really pleased to have my newest abstract work featured in the current summer issue of Acrylic Artist Magazine. Many thanks to managing editor Jennifer Smith.

The article is the work of free-lance writer Michael Gormley, whose list of credits is a mile long –   painter, writer, curator, former editorial director of American Artist magazine and dean emeritus of the New York Academy of Art.

All of that doesn’t have to mean that he’s written an article worth reading, but even I think it’s interesting, looks really beautiful, and felt honored by the company in which he put me as he wrote.

The magazine is available at bookstores and newsstands now – here’s a link to options of buying a single print issue, or a single downloaded issue:

Thanks for visiting – I’ll be back!

Do Instagram!!

The exhibit of twenty big pieces of my new abstract work currently hanging here in St. Petersburg…

… is kind of a big deal for me since all of the work is totally different than anything I’ve done before, and I’m trying to do everything I can to help the curator with it’s promotion.  Their media director said if I don’t do anything else in the way of ~social~ media (and you’ve heard me talk about that before – I do my best) – DO INSTAGRAM!!

Back when I got my new attitude about social media, I read all about Instagram and set up an account (almost three years ago) so I was already ready to go!

I went right home from my meeting with the media director and posted, and have posted something every single day since (it was only four days ago).

A couple of new shots of my studio seemed like a good place to begin…

… and then what I’m working on right now.

It’s really quick and easy to do, and maybe it will even help!  We’ll see…


New Exhibit Opening

I’m just going to act like it hasn’t been 1 year, 5 months and 28 days since I last posted here (and you may have read me saying out loud that I was for sure going to post weekly)…

So! News is that tonight is the official opening for the first exhibit of my most recent paintings, a group of abstract works that is entirely different than anything I’ve done before.

The event is also a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the brand new Hermitage Building here in St. Petersburg, and its shiny new first-floor gallery.

The exhibit has been organized and installed and promoted by St. Petersburg’s much-admired Morean Arts Center, and for me, the very best thing about the lengthy process of bringing this whole thing together has been meeting and working with the Morean’s own Amanda Cooper.

Here she is – Curator of Exhibits – up to her elbows in the manual labor part of installing the show (not just barking orders)…

… typical since she’s the farthest thing from the slightly puffed-up and condescending person so often encountered in her position.  Amanda is smart, warm, generous, genuine, experienced, has a passionate love of and interest in art – not just the business of art – and when it does come down to the business of it all, is first and foremost the artist’s advocate. She is cool, she is one-in-a-million, and I hope we have many more opportunities to work together.

Lots of invitations have gone out – both to the Morean’s huge mailing list, and to all the people connected to the real estate developer for the project, so it should be quite a crowd. And since I do need to make a living, I hope everyone brings lots of money – there’s food and an open bar – that always helps!  So I’m going to get dressed… and we’ll see…



By Far THE BEST WordPress Websites For Artists

Back in July I decided to do a new website using the enormously successful blogging/publishing tool WordPress.

This decision was prompted by the fact that pictures of my older work (which have been on the internet since 1998) continued to dominate image searches on Google, Bing, Yahoo etc. – showing up instead of my newer, dramatically different work. And it was happening in spite of the fact that my then-current website was all about the newer work, with only a very abbreviated archive of sorts.  So I decided to start fresh with WordPress, which is known for being especially search engine friendly.

It’s also known for being an easy way to get a good looking website in very short order, but getting the hang of it all was taking me a while, so I went looking online for some help. And lucky for me, I ended up in exactly the right place. SO right that after a very short time on the incredibly smart, well-thought-out   ~~ ~~   website, I couldn’t send money to engage their help fast enough! exists because of Kim Bruce, a digital technology ace and an artist herself, with a list of accomplishments a mile long. is there because she saw a gaping hole created by the fact that artists (no matter how unsuited to the physical doing of it) have to have websites, and so she developed a brilliantly all-inclusive way to fill that hole. And simply put, she is the best at what she does.

For anything from a helpful analysis of a current website to the creation of a custom theme, and for the uncommon relief of working with someone who does everything she says she’s going to do (and sooner even) and who always, always answers email immediately…   g o   h e r e



Thinking In Three Dimensions

Thinking three-dimensionally has always been impossible for me.  Not just challenging… impossible.  In the same way that I’ve written here about not ~~seeing~~ paintings ahead of time  –  I can imagine a thing, I just don’t envision it.

Right now I’m very excited about again collaborating with my partner Ben Sweeney, this time to translate some of my recent abstract paintings into big, sculptural, metal pieces, and in order to even talk to anyone about this concept (including Ben, who is extraordinarily good at visualization) I need some drawings.  And since three dimensions are involved, going at it sort of through the back door is the only way I know how.

For example – some time ago a customer who has several of my earlier, figural paintings commissioned me to design a pair of lamps that felt like my paintings.  So considering the limitation described above, and that this was new for me at the time, I finally ended up building a rough model based on my very rough two-dimensional idea before I could come up with even a sketch (let alone a meaningful drawing) or have any idea what they might look like from the side or the back…

MARCI MCDONALD | datura lamps drawing | c.1995

… roundabout, as I said, but I do manage to get there!

In the case of this coffee table, I was able to get away with just the two-dimensional drawing since bas relief is almost flat – I could carve the design without having to know what it looked like from the back…

Marci McDonald | Ben Sweeney | water lily coffee table drawing | c.2000

Marci McDonald | Ben Sweeney | water lily coffee table detail | bronze and marble | c.2000

Marci McDonald | Ben Sweeney | water lily coffee table detail | bronze and marble | c.2000

… and we just figured out the ends and legs as we went along. I have areas of bas relief in mind for the new pieces, combining cast and fabricated elements like we did on this table, but abstract, and on a much grander scale, with more emphasis on patinas.

I’m thinking to start with these two paintings, which I already see as quite sculptural…

MARCI MCDONALD | as it grows 1 | acrylic painting on canvas

MARCI MCDONALD | what is deep | acrylic painting on canvas

 …and tonight I’ll be dragging out old wax and pouring the big, flexible sheets I cut up to make my models.

Then come drawings, followed by working with Ben (which is very high on my five favorites list) figuring out how to physically accomplish this, and then formulating it all into a presentable package  b e c a u s e . . .  this project will require {{funding}} and I’ll write about that in a future post.

Making A Living

First I want to thank Carolyn Edlund for the article featuring my work that was published early this week on her very smart, very informative website – – which is dedicated to helping artists build better businesses.  Carolyn is its founder, with a list of other accomplishments a mile long.

The list tells me that Carolyn is obviously good at keeping a lot of balls in the air at once, and that leads me to what I’ll talk about second.

I am so NOT a multi-tasker (limiting, yes, but I prefer to think of it as enhancing my ability to focus intently) and more than that, it seems I can only wear one hat per day.  If I’m a business person today, I can’t be an artist until tomorrow.

Thinking about business gets me wound up, and here are a few of the things circling my brain:

  –   My current studio

MARCI MCDONALD | St. Petersburg studio | 2014

…(which I love and has a great energy) is attached to our house in a residential area.  Would I make a  better living if I moved to one of the art ‘destination’ districts flourishing here in St Petersburg?

   My adorable sister and I are busy formulating and polishing methods and materials to find and engage suitable galleries.

   I did art fairs with great success for over 25 years.  Should I take advantage of the fact that some of the best shows in the country are here in Florida, and do just a couple of shows?

   Before my recent shift from representational painting to abstract, I had an extensive website (with shopping cart) offering original paintings, original prints and reproductions (all imagery with well-proven salability), and promoting the commissioned works in metal my partner and I do together…

Marci McDonald | Ben Sweeney | water lily console table | bronze and marble | c. 1995

…as well as my own commission work.

It was a beautiful, efficient site, and we spent an ENORMOUS amount of time and money on its creation and  promotion.  It was a little ahead of its time, and sales were more than disappointing. That site has been replaced with a simple online catalog of current work, and an abbreviated archive of sorts.

I’ve gone from being a serious, aggressive advocate of the potential of the Internet as a place to make a lot of money selling art  –  to a disenchanted, part-time observer.  But… should I just leave it at that?  How much time should I give the Internet now?

–   Research for grants and other sources of alternative funding for some exciting BIG projects I have in mind for my partner and me.  I’ll write more about that in a future post.

When this blog was born, I said I’d be writing about some of what goes on in the life of a serious artist.  Mostly I try to make it not boring, but also to focus on all the positive things (which do abound).  This post feels particularly ~~whiney~~ to me, and I DETEST whining, but there it is.  I’ll do better next time.


A Milestone!

It sounds simple, I know, but I have finally arrived at what I’ll just call a ‘way of working’.  A gathering of processes I’ve struggled with while transitioning to abstract painting that means I can freely attack a concept with a rough idea of how to develop it, and move intuitively as I work, not thinking so much about what the paint is or isn’t doing.

It’s only temporary of course, and just one of many such transitory methodologies to come, but a milestone!

My mom and dad used to save the newspaper want ad pages for me to draw on when I was little (small type, nice and uniform, no bothersome big titles or photographs) and I so clearly remember settling down on the floor with those big empty pages, excited to begin.  I still feel exactly the same when faced with a wonderful blank work surface, and at the moment, feel particularly liberated – ready to devour them!

The  ‘impressions left by some kind of dynamic energy force…’ concept (see 9-20-14 post) is still with me…
MARCI MCDONALD | painting in progress | 4-10-15MARCI MCDONALD | painting in progress 2 | 4-10-15MARCI MCDONALD | painting in progress 3 | 4-10-15MARCI MCDONALD | painting in progress 4 | 4-10-15… and I’m working on it…



Paintings – my own included – often look more beautiful to me on a computer screen.  More luminous.

What I like about this painting – just finished, acrylic on canvas, 40″ x 40″, title ‘simply, deeply’

MARCI MCDONALD | simply, deeply | acrylic painting on canvas

… which I think looks fine here on the screen – what pleases me is that it looks more beautiful standing right in front of it.  There are some really wonderful things going on with the paint, not really having color and composition in mind.  And THAT pleases me because it means I’ve learned some things since my last post (which was longer ago than I promised myself when I started this blog, and I’ll write more about that when I finish writing about this painting) about working more successfully with the paint I’m using.

Here it is in an earlier stage…

MARCI MCDONALD | painting in progress | 12-22-2014
… and some wonderfully wild things happened that I’ve pretty much learned how to cause, but more important, to preserve when I see them happening…

MARCI MCDONALD | painting in progress 2 | 12-22-2014

MARCI MCDONALD | painting in progress 3 | 12-22-2014

… (I often think I’ll feel like I’ve REALLY learned something when I can make huge, breathtaking paintings that I like as well as some of these detail shots, but as I’ve written before, I’m working on patience and a grown-up kind of acceptance of the fact that the radical change I’ve undertaken requires time and the ability to focus on the progress that IS being made).

Next to the picture of the painting in progress on the easel, it’s easy for me to feel like the finished piece is too refined, but I do like the complexity of the layers, and I think they are what creates its glow… I’m working on it.

And since I’d really like to post this today because I’ve promised myself to do it every Monday, I’ll write about why I haven’t been doing that next time.

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.