Interview with Alan Macdonald
q)Who are you? Where are you from and where do you live now?
a)My name is Alan Macdonald. I was born in Malawi to Scottish parents and now live in Carnoustie, Scotland.
q)What is it that you do? What media do you use?
a)I am a figurative painter and I work with oil on board and on linen.
q)What do you think sets your work apart?
a)I try as far as possible to be myself. It's a hard thing to do because those innermost parts of yourself have a tendency to run away and hide when they know that they are going to be exposed to scrutiny by others. You have to make a leap of faith. However, if you succeed, your work will be unique.
q)How long have you been showing your work for? Did you have a “big break?”
a)I have been showing my work for 25 years. I suppose my big break was in Gallery 47, opposite the British Museum in London. You are supposed to rent the gallery, and as I couldn't afford to do so, I offered to redecorate the space in return for a week's free rental. From there I was spotted by other galleries, and it all seemed to grow from that point.
q)What are some things that have inspired you?
a)I have been inspired by so many things it is difficult to select a few. I suppose early on when I was a child I was very inspired by Leonardo da Vinci's drawings. Later I was excited by the freedom that plant illustrators had... they could cut away as much or as little of the plant as they wanted, have dotted lines coming out to boxes with abstract cross-sections within, write lists on the page... in other words, within the strict boundaries or their discipline, they were free.
Abstract painting then helped to free up my working processes and learn to trust my instincts. Conceptual art, comics, wrapper design, music... these are but a few.
I suppose the biggest inspirational boost came from visiting the Prado Museum in Madrid. All those magnificent dark paintings... the person who went in was not the person who came out!
q)hat have you been working on recently?
a)ecently I have been working on a portrait of my Mother on a Vespa. The painting has been going on and off for a year now and finally I think that I am getting there. I am also doing three large works for a client in London as well as some smaller work for myself. I am learning to marry observed reference with imagined forms in a way that I haven't yet achieved... and it makes me very excited!
q)o you listen to music while you create your work? If so, would you give some examples?
a)listen to classical music mostly, from BBC Radio 3. I like the variety and unpredictability of what is coming next... rather than selecting my own music to play. Although it has to be said that I prefer silence or my own choice when they decide to play Benjamin Britten's choral music!
q) you do work in any other media? Other projects not necessarily related to your main body of work?
a)used to experiment in other media, but now I stick to painting.
q)hat advice do you have for artists looking to show their work?
a)e main advice I would have is to remember to be true to yourself and to be brave. Keep the faith and work hard. If you get better every year and don't give up... it is a matter of time before you are surprising even yourself. I used to get laughed at for saying that if something really special happened in my work, I wouldn't have to promote it... that the word would get out and things would happen of their own accord. Well, in the end, that is just what happened to me.
q)o you have any upcoming exhibitions of your work that you can mention?
a) April 2011 I will be showing at the Dallas Art Fair with Stewart Gallery, and I will be having a solo exhibition at Galerie Rademakers in Amsterdam in May 2011. Also in 2011 I am scheduled to participate in an exhibition of British painting at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington.
q)here can people see more of your work on the internet?
a) websites are:
There are many more sites with my work on that can be found easily with a google search.