Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday Feature: Kelley MacDonald

Hi Everyone,

Kelley and I in Atlanta
It's Friday Feature time.  This week I interviewed the fabulous Kelley MacDonald!  I first discovered Kelley while listening to Artists Helping Artists.  She was always calling in with great questions and interesting information.  I've had the pleasure of meeting Kelley in person.  I hope to get to hang out with her more in the future:)

Kelley's work is just as fabulous as her.  I started following her blog when she and another blogger Susan Roden were in the middle of  a food fight, a virtual food fight, of sorts.  Kelley will do a masterful painting of a donut and throw it up on her blog as a challenge for Susan to respond.  They go back and forth, so much fun:)  Kelley does paint more than just donuts but I must say, nobody paints a jelly donut like Kelley:)  And if you know her you know she shares her life with a very special person, or should I say pug.  Paco, her side kick, Paco's tails (pun intended) are a great source of fun and he even has his own blog.

If you want to see more of her work check out her blog here 
or her website here

 How did you get your start?  What’s your artist journey so far?

I started drawing at age 3, and my ‘specialty’ was 2 family houses with seagulls overhead and flowers in the front yard!  I never stopped drawing.
Catholic school was good for a lot of things, but not art.  I had my eyes opened to the History of Art at Wheaton College, which I took to fulfill a requirement, and kept getting chest pains the first class because I stopped breathing so often during the ‘overview’ slide show!  I took some drawing classes in college, then when I got out of school I made sure I took classes pretty continuously at local art associations and adult ed as the kids grew up.  When I was 47 I quit work and painted full time, taking oil painting lessons, and then studying at workshops with artists I admire.  In 2007 a friend and I ‘buddied up’ to blog our art – and the rest, as they say, is history :D

Where were you born?

I was born in a Fall River, a Massachusetts mill town.  I have lived in New Hampshire, then back in the Boston area for about 15 years, and now live in Tiverton, RI, which, btw, is smack next door to Fall River.  Where the kids STILL grow up never going to an art museum!

If you could live anywhere where would you live?

Do you really want to know?  Paris – in or around.  OK, second choice would probably be the California coast – or New Mexico.  Or Mid-Maine.  Or NYC.  Or… the tip of Cape Cod… or right here... :D

What’s your favorite thing to paint and why?

Oh, Carrie, to me that is like asking which child is my favorite – I’m just in love with painting, and there’s so MUCH to love!  Well.  Ok.  I think my favorite thing to paint is … scenes from my travels.  Which is news to me – I just let myself answer – and…. I hardly ever actually paint from my travels when I get home!  I guess I should do more!  There’s the ubiquitous jelly donut, which leaps onto my canvas quite often, and I do find real joy in describing each individual one!

Which of your paintings was the most enjoyable to paint? Which was the most difficult?

I did a painting of my husband’s grandfather’s lunch pail, which just flowed and I loved doing every stroke.  Never ever would I have imagined this subject to be so enjoyable!  And most difficult – a commission of a horizontal scene on a vertical canvas – 24x48 – torture.  I never, ever should have agreed to it!

Do you have a favorite artist?  Who has been your biggest inspiration?

Ah… deceased?  Well I think Joaquin Sorrolla – and I was lucky enough to visit his home/museum in Spain.  Once again… stopped breathing.  MUST stop doing that!  Inspiration? I think Carol Marine.  She is one gutsy girl, and she just tackles things till she nails them.  And keeps her eye on her goals.  I like that.

What are some of your favorite things or things that are essential to your well being/success as an artist?

Well, good art supplies, and plenty of them, give me comfort and I feel like I can just charge in and make mistakes, if I have enough panels, boards, canvases and brushes.  And my Studio Assistants.  At the studio it is Paco, my pug, who is ever supportive of my struggles, and at home I have a cat on each side of me while I paint – my Tortie Isabelle, with the pumpkin colored triangle on her face, and my orange boy Harry.  I adore them!

Do you have go-to paints/colors, what are your favorites?

I start with (and stick with for plein air) a limited palette (guarantees color harmony)
Titanium White
Lemon Yellow
Cad Yellow Med
Cad Orange
Cad Red Light
Permanent Rose (or alizarin crimson)
Ultramarine Blue
Pthalo Blue
Burnt Umber

Then I do have some colors that I love – Horizon Blue, Yellow Ochre, all the Radiant colors from Gamblin, transparent orange

Do you ever get artist’s block? And what do you do to overcome it?

I think I had a day or two of ‘Block’.  I’m really never bored or at a loss there – my problem in the opposite – I want to do and try everything.  But the time I felt like that I simply did something fun – a movie in the middle of the day I think - and very soon I was bursting with desire to get back at the easel!

What are five things you would like to happen in your life in the next five years? Dream big here:)

I’m assuming you mean in my art life?
  1. Get into multiple galleries.  And here my problem is the more proficient I become, the higher I set my Gallery choices.  In other words, I never want a gallery that would want me!
  2. Paint in France
  3. Paint in Scotland
  4. Paint in Italy (this is getting boring?)
  5. Teach painting workshops.
 What is your advice for other artists who are just getting started in their career?

Let yourself be the worst in the class!  Don’t think you’ll do your best work in a class or workshop – it has to sink in.

What is the best advice that you have received as an artist?
Keep painting! (Charles Sovek)


Chocolate or vanilla?
Chocolate (I AM a woman!)

Sunny beach or rustic mountain retreat?

 Book or movie?
Tough one.  Book!

Favorite author?
I like a lot, but Anita Shreve is right up there.

Favorite movie?
I have to tell you all my strangenesses?  Prancer.  Yup.  The children's’ Christmas movie.  I need Kleenex, too, to watch it.  Every time.

Romance or comedy?
Comedy – make me belly laugh!

Favorite ice cream flavor?
Night owl or morning person?

Cake or Cupcakes?
Tender cupcakes – chocolate or white – with butter-cream frosting!

Great interview, Kelley:))  I have to say I just love Kelley's work and I her unique signature on her paintings.  I hope everyone enjoyed the interview!

Have a Great Weekend!!!



  1. I loved reading this! Good choice in choosing Kelley to interview! I admire her work and it was fun to get a peek into her personality. :-)

  2. Love this! I've been friends w/ Kelley for 3 years. We met in a workshop and have taken another together. She's always so supportive of and a continuous commenter in my blog!

  3. Wow, that artwork is I want a donut! :-)

  4. super interview-Kelley's blog is so much fun to follow.

  5. have been following Kelley for quite sometime. Those jelly donuts of hers bring back so many childhood memories for me. If I were still living back in New Bedford, MA I would visit her often (whether she liked it or not) so some of that wonderful talent could rub off on me! Oh yea, I would bring the Dunkin Donuts coffee and donuts too.

  6. What a great interviewer you are, Carrie!
    I'm pleased and proud to say that Kelley and I are BFF's :D
    She rocks!

  7. Wonderful interview Carrie! So generous and fun of you and lets us learn about you along with your Friday Feature artist. Kelley is awesome and was fun to guess what some of her answers might be. What a wonderful group of people I hope to be as good as one day:)

  8. Great selection of Kelley's works. Interesting article also.

  9. Great interview of a wonderful artist and friend.

  10. Really enjoyed your interview and learning more about Kelley. I love this feature you are doing!

  11. Wonderful interview. I love that Kelley has a great sense of humor!
    By the way, I was cleaning out my garage too....I had to laugh at your comment.
    Hope you are well. My son loves ROTC!!

  12. I just love these posts! My mouth is literally watering now! Those paintings look good enough to eat! I'm off to visit the blogs right now :0)

  13. Great reading more about you Kelley : ) I love those personal insights!