In the Studio with Camilla MacDonald

Immortalising picture-perfect settings from Gloucestershire and beyond, SoGlos speaks to Cheltenham-based artist, Camilla MacDonald about her artistic flair and debut exhibition with Duncan R Powell Photography.

Juggling full-time mother duties with painting, Cheltenham artist Camilla MacDonald discusses her artistic influences and inspiration, ways to encourage creativity in children, and her upcoming exhibition, in SoGlos’s In the Studio interview.

Showcasing stunning scenes in and around Cheltenham, Camilla MacDonald’s debut exhibition is on display from Wednesday 22 to Tuesday 28 March 2017.

Can you tell SoGlos readers where you’re from and where you’re based now?

I grew up in Surrey and lived there until I went to university, and now I live in Leckhampton in Cheltenham.

Are you a full-time artist?

No, in the sense that I’m a full-time mum so I can’t dedicate all day every day to it, but it’s become my full-time second job. I spend time doing art whenever I can, around my time spent being a mum. My youngest child is two, so when she is napping, I try and paint for a few hours!

Do you encourage your children to be creative?

I do encourage it, I really do. Quite often if I’m painting in the kitchen, my daughter will sit and do a drawing with me.

How would you describe your style of art?

I think my style is a bit impressionistic; I’ve always loved impressionism and I think my work is morphing more towards abstract art because it doesn’t always look exactly as something is supposed to look like.

I don’t want my art to be photographic, I don’t want it to be too real, and so my style is evolving all the time.

What’s your favourite media to work with?

Oil is definitely my favourite because it has such lustre in its colour and is just so vibrant. It just has a real strength in it, and to me it looks a lot more vibrant than acrylic. I love using linseed oil to really strengthen it even more and deepen the colour.

Where do you take your inspiration from?

I think probably my surroundings – at the moment wherever I’m in Cheltenham, whether it’s in the park or just walking past the shops, there are so many pretty scenes and buildings.

Whether it’s autumn or spring, there are just so many amazing shapes and colours. I think I’m really lucky that my surroundings can be my inspiration.

What were your main influences when you started out painting?

Both of my grandmothers were really artistic, but growing up, there were always loads of art books of my dad’s favourite painters and there was always art on show. From then on I was surrounded by art all the time, and I always used to visit art galleries.

As a teenager, my walls were just covered with postcards of my favourite artists such as Pissarro, Renoir, Frederic, Lord Leighton, and it was the colour and light they used that really drew me in.

What would you say the highlight of your career has been so far?

Working towards this exhibition has been really good because it’s been so exciting to work towards something, while at the same time quite nerve racking because you’re putting your art out there for the first time.

Also, I’ve recently been commissioned to do some work for Café Nero in America, so that’s really exciting.

Can you describe a typical day in your working life?

I get everyone ready for school and then I look after my youngest daughter; I try and grab a couple of hours when she’s asleep to paint at the kitchen table. Then, when my daughter wakes up, we have lunch together before it’s the afternoon and time to pick up my children from school. It’s a really busy day but I love being busy.

Do you have a particular place where you like to shop for art in Gloucestershire?

I don’t buy a lot of art because selfishly there is a lot of my art around the house but, Castle Fine Arts on Cheltenham’s Promenade always has amazing stuff in the windows and it’s quite dramatic, colourful art.

The Gardens Gallery is also a great place to go and buy art because it showcases the work of local artists, and it has a real sense of supporting local people in the community.

Another place is Burford Garden Company, because it has the most amazing art and I really love going there.

Have you got any advice you’d give to budding artists?

Don’t stop producing art, take your sketch book with you, take photos constantly, and if you can’t always work in the field like me, then use those photos at home. Also, go and see as much real art as you can, go to galleries because there is nothing like going to galleries for inspiration.

And finally, what can SoGlos readers expect from your upcoming exhibition at Montpellier Gardens Gallery?

I think you can expect some familiar Cheltenham scenes and I just hope I’ve managed to capture Cheltenham in all its glory, with its colours and architecture.

I love capturing the colour and the light in a scene so I hope I’ve managed to do that. I hope there is something for everyone and they enjoy what I’ve produced.

For more information see Camilla MacDonald Art and Duncan R Powell Photography at The Gardens Gallery, call (01242) 521533, or visit directly.

By Sophie Bird

© SoGlos
Tuesday 07 March 2017

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