Peter McDonald


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Artist Statement:

I want my paintings to be enjoyed by as many people as possible. One way I do this is to paint people and situations that I come across in my daily life, things that everyone can relate to. I often get a lot of ideas on the journey to my studio – from being on the bus and looking down at the street to seeing hairdressers or people playing snooker … Inspiration could come from anywhere – a photo in the newspaper, the tone of someone’s voice on the bus, seeing a certain colour on a billboard. Seeing, hearing, feeling – all this gives you a way into some sort of vision.

I use humour as a way of disarming the viewer. I want them to approach my work when they are relaxed, with an open mind, and I hope that they spend some time with it.

I used to loosely copy people from music magazines and newspapers and place them in an imaginary setting, but I started to develop my own style of people after I put down the photographic source material and started painting from memory and feeling. Anatomically, the figures gradually became less real and more a part of their own painted world.

I am fascinated by the way I can physically embody the idea of communication between two characters through paint. Two overlapping coloured heads, merging in the middle, feature in much of my work. The transparent effect is an illusion in many cases. I mix the merging colours to produce a see-through effect. Sometimes the heads merge with the background too, which helps to create depth in the picture plane. Visually, this also helps depict the dissolution of boundaries between people and their environment.

I paint with acrylic gouache. It gives me a flat, matt colour that works well with my painting language. I love using colour and I tend to be quite intuitive in my choices: one colour suggests the next, or the subject of the painting suggests an appropriate colour sequence. When I’m sitting on the studio floor, paintbrush in hand, choosing the colours I’m going to work with, that’s when I feel most in the moment. (The Observer)

Peter McDonald at Kate MacGarry