Lis MacDonald Watermedia Art

Lis MacDonald
Watercolors and Watermedia paintings

When I was 6, I received a gift from my grandfather that I still treasure today. It was a box of Caran d’Ache watercolor pencils. They have seen use over the years and travelled with me to numerous countries. Many of the colors have been replaced, but the original metal box is still intact. I loved to draw and color and admired paintings that were done in watercolor. I saw a wonderful watercolor landscape in a magazine; I clipped it and pasted inside the lid of my color pencil box where it still is today.

I took the usual art classes in school as they were required then, but the assignments never caught my imagination. I was admonished in elementary school, because I colored the pictures with vivid colors pressing hard down on the paper with the color pencil. In middle school I remember having to create a mosaic, pasting paper squares to create an image; I was bored beyond belief and impatient to have it done. Once in high school in Montreal my focus turned to science, dreaming of becoming a physician attending McGill University. Loved math, physics and chemistry. My parents, however, anxious to enter the US, finally got their visas and off we went to California.

I ended becoming a nurse working in many areas of hospital nursing for 15 years. I then returned to school and became a Nurse Practitioner with a graduate degree. At one point I was asked to teach a class in physical assessment which I gladly accepted. I soon realized that I was unable to find anatomical drawings of the skeleton to use in class. So I got back into drawing and completed the entire human skeleton and made them into overhead transparencies. Thus I awakened the art spirit within me.

I pursued art, especially everything related to drawing and watercolors and related media. I bought and borrowed books on the subject. Living in San Diego at the time I had access to the classes at the San Diego Watercolor Society. I learned from many artists: Stephen Quiller (color theory), Robbie Laird (painting glowing florals on wet paper), Tony Couch (Principles of design), Gerald Brommer (collage and watercolor), Mel Stabin (plein air painting), Nita Engle (the art of the wash and throwing paint) and Dale Laitinen (simplifying the painting).

My vacations are documented in small travels diaries with pen and ink and watercolors. The drawings are very quick sketches that serve to awaken the memory of the place and time, and are better than photographs.

I continue to learn and experiment with water media. I sketch frequently using primarily pen and ink and do quick value studies before painting a large painting. I continue to use watercolors, but also work with gouache, casein and acrylics, and tried different grounds besides watercolor paper, such as Yupo and wood panel.
I have recently ventured into alcohol ink painting, primarily painting abstract landscapes. Yupo paper (a manmade paper) is perfect for this medium. The alcohol ink paintings have fostered my increased creativity as there is no pre-planning; I allow the inks to blend and gradually develop the design.

Lis MacDonald