This week’s interview is with the lovely and whimsical, Jeanette MacDonald. Jeanette’s belief of being an artist is a living expression of Goethe’s quote,”Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!” Her imaginative art and storytelling are full of whimsy and universal truths that touch the very center of an idea. I first met Jeanette through a Facebook group, and began following her when I hear about her collaborative project with Laura Probert. Jeanette writes and creates straight from her heart and soul. She wears it all on the page before her. I find her honest, whimsical art and writing to be inspirational.
You have a wonderful, unique style of artwork. Have you always been an artist?
Well, I believe that question has two answers. First, I always aspired to be an “artist,” yes. The second part is that I come from the school of thought that we are all “artists.” I believe that being an “artist” hinges merely on whether we can, or cannot, be open, and awake enough, to see how we all have equal access to Creative Potential. And I adore how we all express our creative connection so diversely.
What inspires you?
Really, I’m inspired most by the life I am blessed to get to live. I am inspired by how infinite the universe is. We really can do anything we desire to do in this life, we merely have to start. Beginning has its own powerful magic. That inspires me to bits!
Which artists inspire you?
I am inspired by many whimsical artists like Kelly Rae Roberts, Jane Davenport, Sunny Carvalho, Tamara Laporte, Leslie Wood (I just recently discovered her, and love her style), and a few other artists that are close to me; like Marleen Vermeulen (amazing!) and Gigi Hollier (love). I also have a new love, and profound appreciation for an artist from the last century, Walter Russell (1871-1963), who believed, and demonstrated, that we can all be accomplished at whatever we desire to be. He believed that all we need do is connect to Source and start. Beginning IS where the magic is born. He sculpted, painted, wrote, did architecture (unschooled), and started figure skating in his fifties! I’m not as inspired by his art as much as I am his attitude.
What types of materials do you like to use?
I use mostly acrylic paint, but I LOVE mixed media: watercolour, pencil, collage, Gelly Roll pens, gesso, charcoal, ink, pouring medium (new love) and whatever else gets in my way!
Do you know what you are going to design before you start or have an idea of a theme in mind or does it sort evolve as you put down your layers? Also, do you use your own stories or experiences in your art?
Inspiration visits me when I least expect it, but sometimes I just begin and it evolves. I do see ideas when I am not thinking about anything in particular.
My art always has some aspect of my present experiences within it. I find that I am happy most of the time (now), but I have been known to paint out my angst as well, which has resulted in the creation of a few darker pieces. Using my art as a therapeutic practice has really helped me to heal my own inner pain and stuck-ness. I find that I don’t carry around as much emotional baggage today, and that tends to make my art more joyful.
Tell me about your philosophy of collaboration. Did that influence your work on the Warrior series?
I LOVE collaboration and sharing my art! And I just happened to be in the right place at the right time with the Warrior Journal trilogy.
I met Laura Probert on a Facebook group, hosted by another soul-sister Christa Thompson, of Wild and Wise Women. She had a discussion night, and I was interested in a dream interpreter on there. I had a really crazy recurring dream from my childhood, and I shared it with this gal on Christa’s discussion night. Turns out that Laura had the same dream! I think, in a lot of ways, Laura and I are a lot alike. Anyway, Laura friended me on Facebook, checked out my art, loved it, and the next thing I knew, I was submitting art for her journal…lol! It was a whirl-wind connection. I’m truly grateful for our friendship.
I would love to hear about your book, Shoo Shoo Shoo Sha La La. What inspired it?
Ahh…my book! It was inspired by a real-life experience that I shared with my sister, Julie. Julie is a year older than me, and she and I were very tight as little girls. The story is actually about a kind of scary time for us. We really did believe that we had met a real dinosaur (we had visited Cochrane, Alberta’s dinosaur park with our dad). My sister was always a story-teller. We shared a lot of bed-time-adventures, travelling deep into our imaginations, through the elaborate stories she told.
About eight years ago I started to paint these pictures of that particular dinosaur adventure, with the idea that she would write a story, to go along with my art. Turns out that I ended up writing the story, using poetry, all by myself. Laura encouraged me to pick it up again and to finish writing that story. With the help of Laura, my wonderful hubby Barry, and Jane Covernton, my editor, I rewrote it. Atousa Raissyan generously designed the book for me. So, even my little book became a collaborative effort.
Shoo Shoo Shoo Sha La La was based on an old lullaby, by Wilf Carter (that’s actually where the name for my book came from), that my dad use to sing to us as kids. Wilf Carter died in the 90’s but his family generously gave me permission to use the lyrics in my book. Wilf Carter’s daughter, Sheila, even purchased some books for herself and her family ( I was tickled by that). I think it was as much as a memory for Carter’s family as it was for my family.
You recently attended the Hay House Workshop, has it inspired any new projects?
The Hay House Workshop opened me up in a big way to my purpose. I had a light-bulb moment when I was lying in bed on the
last night before I flew out (as a matter of fact, I never slept at all that night, which only added to how exhausted I was when I got home, but it was so worth it! I decided, that night, that I was going to use the writing of my book to encourage children to find and recognise the artist their inner-artist. I believe this will heal a lot of pain that children feel about not being good enough. So, when I get all of my chores done (ugh!), I will be putting the finishing touches on my free workshop. I am really excited about this.
(I can’t wait to hear more about your workshop. It sounds delightful!)
Time for some fun questions. What is your favorite all out meal/date?
I’ve become mostly vegetarian, but we have a really healthy, and quirky, restaurant on the coast, where I live. It’s called The Gumboot. I LOVE the Buddha Bowl, it has really yummy rice, steamed veggies, tofu, grated beet and carrot, avocado, sesame seeds, and peanut sauce. It’s served with chopsticks. That’s probably my fave date place, and it a spot we frequent quite often.
Where is ONE place you would love to travel to?
Honestly, I am not much of a traveller. We lived on a boat for a couple years and cruised around a lot. Barry’s daughter and grandsons lives in Mexico, so we will be going there in the winter for about a week. I’m off to New York to do a writing workshop through Hay House with Laura next week. We move that weekend as well (eek), so I am anxious to come home to our “new to us” home and garden. To me, there is no place better than home!
Thank you for allowing me to interview you.
Thank you, Susan. I really appreciate you giving me this wonderful opportunity, by highlighting what I do!
Jeanette MacDonald has three grown children, and ten grandchildren. As
well, she has worked with children, in many capacities, for most of her
life. As a result, children’s imaginations and their honest art, have
always been a source of fascination and inspiration for her. Lately, she
has been using her whimsical art to connect to her own innocence, so she
may explore her life from a more simplistic and joyful perspective. This
has opened her up to the realization that we all have art in us that we
can use to help to heal world. At this time she is in the throes
developing a free workshop for children, using her children’s book to
teach children that “we are all artists”. This is in keeping with her
philosophy that we have a responsibility to share our heart’s messages,
and to help others. It is Jeanette’s greatest wish that her art and
writing may somehow assist others in finding their own inner-artists, and
“child-like” joy and inspiration.
She is presently semi-retired and pursuing her passion as a visual
artist/illustrator and writer at www.jeanettemacdonaldart.com and on