Thursday, January 3, 2013

Intensities: A Talk with Lynet McDonald

Virginia Billeaud Anderson

Lynet McDonald opens her solo exhibition Intensity at Redbud Gallery on January 5. We spoke together and she told me a few things about her art.

Virginia Billeaud Anderson: How many works will you show? Please give me a brief description of your exhibition scheme.

Lynet McDonald: I am planning on displaying about 15 pieces at Redbud. The name of the exhibit is "Intensity". That is a common theme with all of my women no matter what their ethnicity, time period, or emotional state. They are all intense looking, mostly because I am an intense person myself. I am very emotional and intense and this gets passed on to the women in my artwork. I usually put some of my own facial features in them to make it more personal too. But even if they don't end up looking like me, they certainly show how I feel inside. Even my historical pieces display my moods. For example, I chose to paint "Athena" during a time when I needed to be strong despite the difficult issues that I was going through. "Athena" is a strong warrior undeterred by adversity. That's why she has the head of Medusa on her breast plate. She was not afraid of beasts and destroyed Medusa. Even when the women in my paintings seemingly don't relate to me, they actually do. I think a lot of women no matter what ethnic background or time period they are from, they go through many of the same things.

Lynet McDonald, Athena, 2012, Oil Pastel on Masonite, 27” x 21”

VBA: The images related to history or historical figures, such as Greek mythological or Meso American figures or Marie Antoinette contain details that seem to require a bit of research. Please make a comment about your research.

LM: I do a lot of research for my historical pieces. Sometimes the research takes me longer than doing the painting. I like to be accurate. I don't just go through the internet and get whatever info I find. I try to look for legitimate sources like museums, books, and archaeological findings. For my Egyptian oil pastel piece on masonite The Beautiful One Has Come, I spent a long time researching hieroglyphics. I wanted to write in hieroglyphics "The Eternally Beautiful One Has Come". I didn't just want to display any type of nice looking hieroglyphics. I wanted to display that phrase in the same manner and order that the ancient Egyptians did. It matters a lot to me to be accurate in my artwork. I also research hairstyles, jewelry, and clothing from the time period for my historical pieces. For the Aztec piece that Gus [Kopriva] purchased from me (Ichpochtli), I used only colors and ornaments that the Aztecs (Mexica is their accurate name) used pre-conquest. I didn't want my piece to have any European influence. It was very hard to do this piece because most of the Aztec books and items were destroyed by the Spanish so there was very little information.

VBA: Your resume reveals no academic training. You are self taught yet your technique is extremely polished, how did you develop such dexterity?

LM: I am a self-taught artist. The only formal art classes that I took were the required ones in high school. I have never taken an art class or workshop after that. I started drawing when I was very young. It was my way to deal with issues during my childhood. My dad was an alcoholic. He would take out his frustrations on his family. Even though he is a very educated man who got a PhD in Organic Chemistry in the US on a scholarship, he was traumatized by childhood demons of his own. So during the very difficult times in my childhood, I would escape by drawing faces of women. My mom was a very beautiful woman, but also very depressed and sad due to my dad's behavior. I think that's how I got the idea of always drawing beautiful emotional women. It seemed ironic to me that such a beautiful woman (my mom) who got admired so much could be so sad and depressed. So I continued drawing faces over and over and got better and better as I kept doing it. I stopped doing art when I went to college and dedicated myself to my programming career. I went back to doing art after my daughter was born. Sometimes people think that my career switch was very drastic and different, but it doesn't feel like it to me. I have always been very analytical and good in math and science. I like puzzles and figuring out things too. This is why I was a successful programmer. Art is not much different for me. My art is exact and realistic. It displays my analytical side. My art research displays my need for accuracy. You have to be accurate to be a good programmer too.

Lynet McDonald, Jamila,  2009, Oil Pastel on Masonite, 27” x 21” ("Jamila" means “beautiful” in Arabic)

VBA: Emotions underscore your art. What else influences you, do you spend time in museums, looking at other artists, if so who?

LM: I get inspiration from many places. I love reading, going to museums, going to art events, watching period pieces, and independent films. I am constantly daydreaming and making up stories in my head. I think imagination is so important to get through life. When I do art, I go into another world where anything is possible and you can be whoever you want to be. There is no pain, no hunger, no anger, not even time exists. I become completely focused on my art and that is why I prefer to paint alone. I cannot immerse myself in my art world while others watch me or speak to me. It’s my alone therapy time.

Lynet McDonald, Enough is Enough, 2011, Oil Pastel on Masonite, 27” x 21”

VBA: You are in a weird and wonderfully unique environment working closely with Gus, in the midst of his collection, his artists and exhibitions, and being exposed to Sharon Kopriva’s art. Has the experience impacted you?

LM: I cannot say enough about Gus and Sharon. They are a true inspiration to me. They are the kindest people I have ever met. People can be kind and nurturing while at the same time collect or create what others would consider odd pieces of artwork. Gus’ collection is very unique and blunt at times, but that just displays a side of his personality. Sharon’s work is mostly dark and intense which reminds me of mine. I feel very grateful and honored to be working at Redbud. I love being surrounded by art and interacting with artists, art collectors, and art lovers. Redbud has such a positive vibe. It’s a little piece of heaven for me.

Lynet McDonald, Come to Me, 2012, Oil Pastel on Paper, 32” x 26”

Lynet McDonald, Maya, 2012, Oil Pastel on Masonite, 23” x 19”


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