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About Art: Living in the moment

Norma McDonell is a Nova Scotia artist living in Enfield. Her paintings are in collections as far away as Africa, Victoria/Vancouver, the Middle East, Texas, Dawson City and many more.

Norma McDonell is proud of her painting of the Grand Canal in Venice. The artist visited Venice recently and felt a real connection with the painting.

McDonell has won awards for her oil and acrylic paintings in a number of art competitions, but for her, the best part of all is the camaraderie.

How did you start making art?

One day I was invited to an art open house at Sandra MacDonald's studio in Shubenacadie. There were paintings on display that I liked. I was newly retired from teaching, MacDonald was offering painting classes, I had someone to go with, so I said, why not. I find painting great fun, relaxing, and a great way to get together with other painters to share, exchange ideas and learn from each other.


What artist has inspired you most?

By chance I met a well-known painter from Halifax named Doris Horne. At the time she was well into her late 70s and had moved to the country to be nearer her family. Doris loved painting and was well known in the senior painting community, and sold everything she painted. She loved everything about life! I asked her for some help with a painting and one thing led to another and I found myself painting with Doris on Thursdays for over six years. Together we attended every workshop she and I could fit into our busy lives. She has since passed away, but I think of her every time I pick up a paintbrush. I am fascinated by other artists, how they create, where they live, and what inspires them to paint.


What are you working on at the moment?

I have been working on commissions since the fall. I just put the finishing touches on a large commissioned oil painting of the Grand Canal in Venice. I visited Venice this year so I felt a real connection with the painting even though I was painting it for someone else.


What memorable responses have you had to your work?

I painted a large painting of the backyards of houses on Brunswick Street in Halifax from an old photo. To date it has been my favourite painting. It was on display at the Winding River Gallery on opening day, which was very busy. I overheard voices very excitedly say, “the artist is here in the building.” Two women wanted to buy the painting. They had travelled from different parts of Ontario to seek out the places their father had talked about and lived when he was a young man. It turned out Brunswick Street was where he had lived many years ago before moving to Ottawa.

Another time a woman from Dawson City spotted a painting of mine at the Corridor Art Gallery while her mother was being sent to Halifax by ambulance. The woman left the hospital without the painting but she later emailed me. We ended up meeting up. She got her painting and I just finished a commission for her recently. I was told it was the first painting sold at the new Corridor Gallery.


Where do you sell your work?

Gallery 215 in Selma, Cup of Soul Cafe' in Elmsdale, The Corridor Gallery at the Colchester East Hants Health Centre and The Sweetest Little Gallery in Wellington, as part of the Wellington Bakery. This past year most of my work has been commissions. I can be reached at 902-883-8312, by email, or on Facebook (currently working on a Facebook page: Nova Art).


Janice Guinan is a local artist who passionately believes in the importance of visual art. Her About Art column appears each week in the Truro Daily News. Guinan also writes a weekly column for the Colchester Weekly News. Both can be viewed online at Contact her at

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