Teatime, oil on linen, 80 cm x 80 cm, 2021
Malachite Muse, oil on linen, 80 cm x 80 cm, 2021
Strelitzia, oil on linen, 70 cm x 80 cm, 2021
Girl with the Peacock Earring, oil on linen, 80 cm x 80 cm, 2020
Sunrise, oil on linen, 70 cm x 80 cm, 2020
Camellia, oil on linen, 50 cm x 60 cm, 2019
Spot to Perch, oil on linen, 80 cm x 80 cm, 2019
If I could say it in words there would be no reason to paint.
~ Edward Hopper
One of my favorite art quotes but I will attempt to say it in words . . . .
My work is best described as magical realism, with the focus on beauty, color, and harmony: an imaginary world set against the backdrop of an African landscape where beautiful women, adorned with flowers and foliage, are surrounded by colorful birds. . . it’s a happy, tranquil place, far away from the stresses of modern life.
My work also has a narrative element, which sometimes is linked to African folklore and symbolism. For example, in “Sunrise” (see image above), sunflowers represent happiness and optimism and, in Zulu folklore, the yellow-billed hornbill, the umkolwana (“believer” in isiZulu), is the eternal optimist, looking skyward and foretelling rain before there are even clouds in the sky.
My hope is to capture not only the attention of the viewer but to spark the imagination as well . . . even for a brief moment.
My process is slow, sometimes extremely slow, as I juxtapose various elements to see what works together, and changing whatever does not feel right. Inspired by classical figure painting, I like to be precise and detailed, building up layer upon layer of paint. Finishing a painting is always tricky.
About the Artist
Elise Macdonald was born in Zimbabwe in 1954. She studied art at the University of Witswatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa, from which she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in fine art in 1975. She then began experimenting with airbrush and, in 1982, had a sold-out exhibition of airbrush paintings at Crake Gallery, Johannesburg. After moving to Knysna in 1996, Elise Macdonald exhibited her work at Trent Read’s gallery, Knysna Fine Art. During this period, her art output dwindled as her time and energy were taken up by motherhood. Once her nest emptied, she rekindled her passion for painting, this time with brushes and oils.
Elise Macdonald’s work has been featured in several local exhibitions but it is through social media that she has built up a following of people from all over the world who love her work. She now sells her originals directly to collectors. “I love liaising with the buyer and knowing exactly where in the world each painting has gone,” she states. A painting usually sells within days of its completion. Most of her paintings are available through Lembu Gallery as limited-edition fine art prints on canvas, and have proven very popular.
Currently a resident of the small coastal town of Hermanus, in South Africa, Elise Macdonald paints every day.