Artist Liz McDonald takes a an abstract view to how we engage in relationships with one another, and how color and shape form metaphors in effort to explain those engagements. Her work is predominately figurative work, where her figure can become intermixed with the background or become the focal point. Her choice of colors and shapes describe the relationships in which we hold, therefore her work tends to connect with all audiences. Her work has been shown nationally and her work exists as a part of all of our conversations.
I have been making art for forty years and can’t imagine a life without a creative outlet to enrich it. I have studied with some gifted artists in extended workshops around the country. My fascination with the form and expression of the human figure has been the overarching theme, no matter what the medium. I have never been interested in creating likenesses – I like the freedom to change and exaggerate features to enhance my composition or concept. The influence of modern art along with my appreciation of the contradictions in the human experience, have helped me make those choices.
Currently, I am working exclusively in acrylic. There are so many surprises and happy accidents that add layers of beauty and interest to a work. I tend to follow my instincts rather than having a prepared plan when I make art. I like to see what happens when I let the uncritical part of me lead the way. It’s not always easy but it can free up my imagination. Of course, I pay attention to composition and form and color but unless I let that free part of my mind come out to play, the work isn’t as engaging as when I do. I’ve grown fond of the Japanese concept of “wabi sabi,” which embraces the idea of beauty in imperfection. That doesn’t translate to carelessness but to the willingness to allow beautiful things to happen in their own way. Running into difficulties is part of the process, but sometimes figuring out how to solve the problem leads you in a new direction and makes a better piece. So much of creativity seems to be on a subconscious level. I’m fascinated with the way images and ideas emerge when you least expect it. The process of creating art is intoxicating and calming at the same time.
I embrace solitude – also a recurring theme in my work – as a necessary element in my life and in my art. I believe that quiet stirs the creative imagination and allows ideas to develop almost subconsciously.
I know that art will take me wherever it wants me to go. And I know it will be a place that nurtures and inspires me – where the only problems to solve are creative ones. Solving those problems feeds the soul.
Who am I? We all ask ourselves that question at some point. We are all made up of layers and layers of experiences, emotions, reactions, feelings – negative and positive – that combine to define us. My expressionistic figurative paintings act more as a prompt than a narrative, but there is a story and I hope each one will strike a chord with a viewer. It could be a remembered situation of being cut off or joined with others, a connection or a disjoint at a particular moment. Things are in flux and change constantly. Fleeting moments may or may not be significant in future situations but they sometimes leave an imprint, an impression that stays with you.
My paintings reflect my thoughts about relationships. I’m interested in connections and disconnections, focusing on the contradictions and complexities of being human. I’m interested particularly in family ties, friendships, community, belonging, isolation, solitude, ambivalence and the myriad emotions that affect our actions. Gesture is my language and viewers can interpret the images through their own experiences and feelings. My paintings are deliberately ambiguous but are all about relationships – with others and with ourselves.