Friday artist – Shirley McDonald |

Friday artist – Shirley McDonald

What is your career and your currrent job title? Workshop facilitator for “Designing Your Life” and “Discovering Your Right Livelihood” classes, and visual artist.

Describe your art: I’ve worked in oils, batik, watercolor, gouache, photography, and collage. I’m currently showing prints of my original batiks.

How long have you been working in this discipline? I started soon after my daughter was born, so almost 35 years now.

Why do you do it? To play; to express myself; to get “in the zone;” to escape “reality,” to capture something I see as beautiful and share it with others. Different reasons at different times.

Do you create your art with an exact message you want the viewer to receive? I do this most often with my collages, which have clear messages that focus on creativity, self-expression, positive thinking, and encouragement.

Where do you want to be with your art? I don’t see my art as work. To me, it is play, so I would never see it as a full-time thing. I do enjoy showing my art and sharing it with others in a variety of venues. Now through March 15, I’m showing prints of batiks and a few collages at Broad Street Books, Nevada City; and showing watercolors and gouaches through March 31 at Sierra Mountain Coffee on Combie Road and Highway 49.

What special training did you take? I have taken a few classes to learn specific techniques (such as batik), but mostly I’ve learned through experimentation and inspiration.

What is your favorite part? The process. I may begin with a general idea, and then it takes on a life of its own as I get going.

What is your least favorite part? Having so many pieces ready for sale that I don’t feel inspired to create anything new. There need to be some kind of vacuum for me to be moved into producing more.

How many hours a week do you spend on your work? It really varies. I have gone through periods of being almost obsessed, then very “dry” periods when I haven’t done anything for months.

Do you consider it hard work, and could anyone do it? The “hard work” is getting past any limiting thoughts that keep us from getting started or think we have to be perfect. Just get started!


“The Artist” appears each Friday. To suggest a creative talent who should be profiled in this feature, contact Janet Lee at or 477-4203.

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