Agnes McDonald- Artist Interview

November 2020


“My motivation for creating art is the sense of enjoyment I get when I can take a picture/memory

and bring it to life on a canvas.”

                                                                                                                                          ~Agnes McDonald 


Agnes McDonaldQ.  Please tell us a bit about yourself.

A.  I was born in southern Germany and immigrated to Canada as a toddler.  I grew up on a farm not far from Grande Prairie.  My childhood was spent working with my parents and three siblings on a mixed farm.  Waking up early, milking cows, and feeding chickens were among some of the daily chores, I was responsible for. After graduating high school, I pursued my Bachelor of Education career at GPRC and then at the U of A.  I met and married my husband, John and we are now the proud parents of three wonderful children and grandparents to eight amazing grandchildren.  

Q.  Can you tell us when you first realized that you enjoyed creating art.  Is there a particular person who supported your decision to pursue your goals?

A.  I always loved going to school and art class was one of my favorite subjects. At home, my early art career was doing the paint-by-number kits that I got for my birthdays.  (My younger sister, just recently,  reminded me of a particular horse painting that she loved.)  Over the next thirty years, my artistic endeavors were limited to doodling and drawing, especially during staff meetings.  During my last  three years of teaching, I was tasked with teaching art class.  Developing  lessons and watching my students create their art re-awakened my interest.  After retiring, I suddenly had time on my hands and began my art in earnest.  

My husband and family have all supported and encouraged me right from the beginning, even when my paintings were very basic.  

Q.  What is your motivation for creating art?

A.  My motivation for creating art is the sense of enjoyment I get when I can take a picture/memory and bring it to life on a canvas.  I am always amazed how each stroke of the brush can develop and build my vision. I am also motivated when I look at the work of other artists.  The talents and variety of expressions I see in their work, inspire me to work harder  and try different techniques to express my viewpoint.  

Q.  Do you have a favorite medium and if so, why?

A.  I have tried a variety of materials,  beginning with oil pastels.  I loved being able to blend their colors to create a certain mood.  When I discovered that acrylic paint was easier to work with, I was hooked.  I am endlessly intrigued by the magic of mixing colors and finding the right ones to use.


Q.  Can you tell us a bit about some of your artworks and what they mean to you?                                                                                                                                             


"Spring Thaw" by Agnes McDonald


‘Still Standing’                                                                                                                                                  

This painting is one of many I have done of my family farm.  The ‘steer’ shed was built by my father and used for many years to separate the young steers from the rest of the herd of cows.  I remember when it was a solid building but now I’m amazed every spring that it hasn’t totally collapsed.  

"Tell Me About the Good Old Days" by Agnes McDonald


‘Tell Me About the Good Old Days’ 

My father, like many others of his generation, had a collection of old cars that still remain on our farm.  I have tried to capture the charm of this particular car on a beautiful autumn day.  It brings back many childhood memories of going to town with my family.  

Q.  When you create art, do you listen to calming music, are you thinking of anything in particular or have any emotions at all?

A. I find myself totally focused when I am painting.  It seems to calm me and hours can go by very quickly.  Occasionally, however, especially halfway through the process, I can become quite frustrated. I try to stay positive, keep working and don’t stop until I am satisfied.  Usually, this works, but I do have many unfinished masterpieces scattered around the house!

Q.  In our busy world, time can be an issue.  Do you have any tips or tricks to find time for your art?

 A: In order to find time each day, I usually get up early and try to paint for two hours.  I relish the days when I have additional time but, at least, I know that tomorrow morning I can continue.  Since I am retired, it definitely gives me more time and flexibility.

Q.  Is creating art your main profession?

A.  Creating art, for me, is an all-consuming passion and hobby.  As a profession, I would definitely qualify as a starving artist.

Q.  Can you tell us about any awards or exhibitions that have made an impact on your life?

I have enjoyed the opportunity of having had two private shows. My first one was at the Beaverlodge Arts and Cultural Center and the other one was at the Center for Creative Arts in Grande Prairie.  As my first ‘public’ exposure of my work,  it was a bit nerve wracking, however, I was thrilled by the positive feedback I received.  Just recently, two of my paintings were  accepted into the FCA’s  ‘Retro’ show, which is a first for me!

Q.  Do you have any major goals for your art career?

A.  My major goals include:  having another local show and getting more of my work being juried into major art shows.  It would be a bonus to place at these shows, however, my main goal is to keep improving and evolving my craft.

Q.  What inspires you to be the best artist that you can be?

A.  My inspiration to becoming better is simply my fascination with our beautiful world.  Trying to capture my interpretation with our ever-changing environment is a seemingly elusive dream.  

Q.  Is there anything else you’d like to share about your art journey or inspiration so far to inspire others?

A.  My art journey, although fairly short, has been very rewarding.  It has given me a creative outlet and time flies when I immerse myself.  Especially now during Covid, I have spent much of my time at home and painting is a perfect outlet for me.  My confidence in my own capabilities has grown as I devote many hours to my craft.  I hope that my story and my work will inspire others to create their own vision of our world.  

Thank you Agnes for sharing a bit about your art journey with us!

Agnes can be reached by email-