‘Within seven days of arriving here, I was making a living selling my art.’
An artist whose work has been in the presence of important offices around the world will be featured in Truro.
Gordon MacDonald is one of the members Professional Living Artists of Nova Scotia (PLANS) whose work will be featured in the upcoming “Across the Surface” exhibition hosted by the Truro Art Society in September. He currently lives in Halifax, where he has turned his passion into a career.
MacDonald was born and raised in Atlantic Canada and he spent his childhood in New Brunswick and Newfoundland. He left the Maritimes in 1981 to study at the Toronto School of Art, the Ontario College of Art and the Art Students' League in New York City. His work is in corporate and private collections in Canada and abroad, including the president of Ireland's residence in Dublin, Ireland, and the Canadian embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel.
When did you start making art?
I have been drawing and painting since I was six or seven. I drew differently than all the other kids around me. They drew stick figures; I drew a body with arms and legs. At age eight, I won a contest at Eatons and beat out 500 other kids who were between eight and 12 years old.
Why do you make art?
I've never wanted to do anything else. My only thought was how to survive until I could do art full time. In my 20s and 30s, I was employed off and on in the art world. I did some storyboards, a church mural, backgrounds for animation, and sign work. All I wanted to do was paint, yet found myself driving a taxi in Toronto more than doing art. I moved back to the east coast in 1999 and after a year and a half in New Brunswick, rather than going back to Toronto, I thought about giving Halifax a try. Toronto was a known for me and a dead end. Halifax was a complete unknown. Within seven days of arriving here, I was making a living selling my art. I have supported myself with only my painting for 13 years now. Halifax was the best gamble I have ever taken.
What inspires you?
My father’s family (MacDonalds) are from Pictou and my mother’s family (Steeves) are from Moncton, so travelling around Atlantic Canada in my childhood left its impressions. When I started to look around New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, these impressions came back to me. Thinking about it, my best memories weren’t of objects or specific places, but situations at certain times of day, light, sky, beach and hills. They were vague and intense. It’s as if the light here gave everything a common denominator regardless of specific places or things. I have been trying to paint them ever since.
How do you work?
I paint only with oils. My surfaces range from linen to copper. I draw mostly for myself, but have had some success with them in the United States.
Where do you sell your work?
I sell at Argyle Fine Art, 1559 Barrington St. in Halifax, and recently I have been selling at Fog Forest in Sackville, N.B. My 10th one-man solo show at Argyle Fine Art will open Aug. 15 from 7 to 9 p.m. and everyone is welcome.
Janice Guinan is a local artist who passionately believes in the importance of visual art.