Susan MacDonald – April Artist Profile

FullSizeRenderI am both an artist and an art educator with over 25 years of teaching experience. While teaching art in the public schools in New England, I wrote curriculum, organized exhibitions and was nominated for Disney’s Creative Teacher of the Year Award. Since moving to Cape Breton I have exhibited my work at Cape Breton University, offered children’s art classes at the Cape Breton Center for Craft and Design and taught a Professional Development workshop for art teachers in the CBRM. I am a VANS-PAINTS participant and have been working with Cape Breton school children for the past several years. I was a participating artist at Fortress Louisburg’s “Under the Arch- En Plein Air” open air painting event.

I have a Master’s Degree in Art Education from Southern Connecticut State University as well as a Master’s Degree in Educational Psychology from the University of Connecticut. I have attended classes at both the Massachusetts College of Art and the Rhode Island School of Design.

At the current time, in my creative process, I am exploring the medium of watercolors. I am thoroughly enjoying both the intensity and subtlety of color that this medium offers.

Susan MacDonald, "Rocky Shore", 11"x14", watercolour, 2015.

Susan MacDonald, “Rocky Shore”, 11″x14″, watercolour, 2015.

Being a VANS member opens up the art world of the province to me.

The small Cape Breton town where I live offers much inspiration but little artistic comradery. Through the Vans magazine, I can follow what is going on in the Nova Scotian art world. I enjoy the articles and photos in this publication and believe it or not, I read every ad! I feel that is important to know about the businesses that are affiliated with my craft.

Through the PAINTS program , I re-live the excitement, creativity and inspiration of my elementary age students. As a youngster I had access to some of the greatest art museums in the world. My art teacher took many of her students on field trips to New York City. Studying the art displayed at The Met and the Guggenheim as well as small private galleries, allowed me to see the world through the eyes of hundreds of different artists. It was so inspiring!

When I go to work with my PAINTS students, I always bring art books from my local library, realizing that this might be the only opportunity these children have to observe and discuss the art of the Masters.

I would say that the artistic styles of other painters inspire me more than influence me.

As I explore my current medium, watercolors, I find that my artistic style is always in flux. I am happiest and feel that my work is most successful when my finished products are free flowing and full of saturated color.

When visiting Florida, I always attend art classes at the Center for Visual Arts in Bonita Springs. My instructors there are from all around the U.S. and they are always exposing us, their adult students, to new techniques. Experimenting with these techniques in my own art work is always energizing. Being able to connect with dozens of other artists, on a weekly basis, is both exciting and satisfying.

While in Nova Scotia, I attend as many watercolor workshops as I can. I travel to Halifax regularly and visit the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia and the private art galleries there.

This fall I will be attending a week long watercolor symposium in the Digby area.

The lack of both space and time to create my art were huge hurdles that have now been overcome.

As an artist, the biggest challenges that I have always had, and still have, are to find a designated space to paint and large blocks of “ME” time to create my art. In the past I was much too busy as a parent and a teacher to create my own work. Now that I am retired and living in Nova Scotia, I have more time to spend on my craft. I have created a studio for myself in my new home and delight in my time spent there. In my retirement I travel a great deal. The photos that I take on my travels are very often the jumping off points for many of my art pieces. I also make time to do “Plein Air” painting, be it the solitude of a wooded landscape of the bustle of a busy city street. My “ME” time has finally arrived.

I am usually working on more than one painting at a time.

I have recently completed a watercolor painting of 3 sailboats racing thru a mist, surrounded by an intense red, purple and orange sky. The painting was created quickly and spontaneously. I loved working with oversized, round brushes made plump with pigment.

My next painting might be one that I have been thinking about for a while. It’s a monochromatic piece that will be a close up of a prickly pear cactus. The inspiration for this painting is a photo that I took during my travels. I am usually working on more than one painting at a time. The nature of watercolor is that there is lots of “wait time” while layers of paint are drying.

As an educator, I am excited to be teaching some PAINTS lessons in May. I have to drive to Cape Smokey (3 hours from my home) to get to the schools there. It is quite an excursion for me and one that I am looking forward to.

On the professional level, I am looking forward to the watercolor symposium that I have signed up for in the fall.

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6 Responses to Susan MacDonald – April Artist Profile

  1. Linda Roe says:

    Beautiful work Susan. I love the colours chosen for your water; love the movement; love the rocks and the realationship to their surroundings. Gorgeous.

    keep on painting and sharing,
    Lunenburg, N.S.

  2. Linda Nolasco says:

    Congratulations Sue! You deserve the wonderful recognition for your beautiful paintings.

    • Susan says:

      Thanks Jackie Linda,
      I am going to teach art classes for 2 days next week up in the Cape Breton Highlands.

  3. Sheldon Wadman says:

    Excellent article ….. I so enjoyed a little more insight Sue to that wonderful artistic and creative sideofyourself that always seems to excite you … You are truly gifted .. The love love lover he print … Awesome

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