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  • James MacDonald

“My painting communicates the feeling of my experience…”

My objective as a painter is to portray an experience.

I experience things via my senses, the senses being:

  • Sight

  • Sound

  • Smell/taste

  • Touch

  • Feeling/thought/psychological reaction/interpretation

I want to put my experience on the canvas, and I must consult my senses and thoughts, feel what they are experiencing, and then figure out how to portray this with paints on canvas. Portraying sight is straight forward, but what about the other senses? I portray sound with contrast; smell with richness of colour; touch with the textural application of paint; thought with the design of the composition; and feeling with the contour of line. All my materials are chosen carefully to aid this process: dimensions of canvas, type of brushes, and the colours of my pallette. I do not seek to paint a photographic image, and my painting does not look like a photograph; my painting communicates the feeling of my experience of the subject.

For subject matter, I focus on my interests, what I know and experience; whether it’s trees in my forest, fencers at my club, my brothers, my friends, houses in my neighbourhood, etc.

I only paint from life and I undergo an intense period of focus and euphoria when creating a painting. I paint quickly and strongly, full of passion, and I develop a most singular connection with my subject. The results are always of the greatest significance to me.

Argyll Trees, 90x90cm, oil on canvas, 2017, by James MacDonald

for sale at

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  • James MacDonald

This December I have brought still life painting outside, and I am painting rustic, characterful subjects that are important to me.


This painting, Firewood, portrays the wood chopping station at the cabin I was staying at on the west coast of Scotland. When I was chopping firewood I noticed the sculptural, colourful and tactile nature of the logs, and this inspired me to paint them. By including the Hults Bruks axe I used for splitting the logs, and the old wheel barrow used to relay the logs to the cabin, I completed the composition whilst keeping it completely genuine. Like all my paintings, I painted this from life, and my "studio" for this painting was outdoors, four meters from the wood chopping station.

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