The Others

Meet the Others: Anna Macdonald

The Game Changers. The Rule Breakers. The Innovators. Discover some of the fantastic emerging talent showcasing their work at The Other Art Fair.

The Other Art Fair London artist Anna Macdonald‘s minimalist, abstract works are unique in the sense that although they begin with something tangible, the end result is a composition created by stripping away the non-essential aspects, leaving behind just the gestural marks. Read more about Anna’s practice and where her inspiration and love of her medium comes from.

If you could describe your work in three words, would they be? 

Essence, Precious, Authentic

How did you first get interested in your mediums and what draws you to them specifically?

I’ve always loved working with watercolour and paper, mainly because it’s so practical and accessible, but recently I have become more interested in the quality of paper and how the paint behaves on different types of paper. I have started to invest in increasingly more expensive materials, because  my work is intrinsically minimal, each element is so important.  I work in other media too; acrylic or oil on canvas and mixed media on wood, but watercolour and ink on paper is my first love, and one which I return to.  I also love black ink. That stems from a love of print and graphic design, but also Japanese calligraphy. When I was young I used to spend my pocket money on paper and Chinese brushes from a book shop on Gerrard Street in Chinatown, London. I don’t think that love of oriental brushwork has ever left me.

Can you walk us through your process? How long do you spend on one work? How do you know when it’s finished? 

I begin by observing nature. I start with representational drawings from life, it could be life drawing or a landscape. In these drawings I observe colour, tone and shape and then I begin to abstract and distill them, paring down and separating each element so I am left with a single line, and one or two colours. I do this through collage and sketches until I’m happy with the composition. I start on a small scale and gradually work up in size working on several pieces at once, but I will only keep about 50% of the pieces I make. I work in series as a way of exploring ideas about space, form and colour, as I find if I work on one piece in isolation I tend to over work it. Plus when you work on paper you have to be prepared to make unrectifiable mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes are beautiful, but often they are not and so much of my work ends up in the bin. I know when a work is finished when I hang it on my wall and part of me hopes it won’t sell so I don’t have to be parted with it.

Has being in isolation affected your artwork practice in away way? 

I have still had to teach my 250 school students 3 days a week online, which takes a lot of time, so there is not as much time to create as I have hoped, but I am equally so grateful to have my job.
What has been hard has been not having much peace and quiet, as I have 2 children at home now.  I typically work in total silence or with music, as I need to listen to my inner dialogue to make decisions about my work and I like to be in a very calm state when painting. Silence can be achieved with headphones (my saving grace right now) but motherhood means you are constantly distracted by the demands of others, so I’m trying to embrace the kids being around, knowing that this strange time will end eventually. Right now I’m creating in short bursts, with no pressure; a quick drawing here, a webinar there whilst I cook dinner, but it’s been difficult to feel ‘submerged’ in my Art making.
One positive to come out of being in Lockdown (I don’t think you can call living with 3 other humans, a cat and some goldfish, isolating) is this time has given me an opportunity to reflect on my work, something which I don’t do when I’m in the throws of creating. It has only made me more sure about the focus in my Art; to take all the unnecessary stuff away, so what is left has more value.

What is the best advice given to you as an artist? 

Be authentic. Less bullshit.

Shop artwork by Anna and other trailblazing artists at The Other Art Fair’s Online Studios.

Introducing The Other Art Fair Online Studios, a new online platform offering art lovers around the world access to over 800 Fair artists. The Online Studios will keep our community feeling inspired, engaged, and continue to spread joy through art.