Thursday, May 19, 2016

Raven Skye McDonough, Collage Artist, Tells Her Story

21st Century Athena – 36” x 36", Paper Mosaic Collage on Canvas

Being born under the sign of Aries, I get easily bored -- with art and nature being the only exceptions. This internal “drive” to move forward, has propelled me to experiment extensively with different media over the years, in order to visually convey a story I am trying to tell.

As a child, growing up in the suburbs of Boston, MA, I started creating art with crayons and colored pencils.  I transitioned into working with pastels as a teenager, then was introduced to oil paint during high school and continued to use it as my main media to create with, at the School of the Worcester Art Museum in Worcester, MA.  My art focus back then was mainly to depict traditional representational subject matter such as still life’s, landscapes and the figure.

After Art School, it was difficult to find an art-related job so I had to put my artistic abilities aside. I transitioned into working with computers and technology in different capacities for the next 19 years while along raising my son, Bart.  

Sunset over Monadnock, 36” x 48” Acrylic on Masonite

In 2004 life changed drastically with my son going to away to college, a divorce, and the sale of our home.  I got back into painting accidentally when my  friend Karen Rocklin-Weare invited me over to her home to play with some acrylic paint and canvas that she had laying around.

Imagine my surprise when abstract imagery started coming out of me onto the canvas! I was hooked and painted every spare moment I could while holding down a full-time job.

From painting large abstract paintings in acrylics I transitioned into plein air painting landscapes in oils after meeting Modern Master Painter Stan Moeller of York, ME. With the encouragement, instruction and mentoring of Stan, so much of how I create (solving technical issues and composition) goes back to the things I learned with him. Watching Stan critique my artwork, and the work of other artists in his workshops, really helped sharpen my eye.  

Raven working in her Venice, FL Studio

After a couple of years, I felt something was still missing in how I wanted my artwork and personal style to look and feel. I wanted to combine the abstract and representational styles into one. It was during this time that I took a one day watercolor and collage workshop with Bill Earnshaw of Bedford, NH and fell in love with incorporating paper into my work. It wasn’t long before I covered all of the canvas with collage paper and a new style of Paper Mosaic collage was born.

Third Eye of the Tiger, 16” x 20” Paper Mosaic Collage on Canvas

The inspiration behind my art has primarily come from my love of nature and wildlife. I wanted to be a veterinarian growing up because of my love for all animals. This is the reason you find all kinds of critters and birds in my artwork.

With the relocation from New Hampshire to Florida in 2010, I now find inspiration from spending  time exploring the Florida landscape, its rivers, and the Gulf waters. Photographing and watching the amazing array of tropical birds has led to some very vibrant pieces.  

Double Trouble, 20” x 20” Paper Mosaic Collage on Canvas

I have created my share of what I call “pretty pictures” over the years which are lovely to look at but don’t really tell a story or raise awareness about social or environmental issues.

Spring Equinox, 24” x 48” Mixed Media Collage on Canvas

After much introspection, I have been compelled over the past 5 years to have my art tell a story, mainly using my collage and mixed media techniques as the tool. The different “mixed media” I currently use include: acrylic paint, paper of all kinds, venetian plaster, molding paste, clear tar gel, and crackle medium.

Most of my current inspiration is drawn from my own spiritual connections and from my nightly dreams. The subjects range from anti-war, environmental issues, political concerns, women’s issues, and the human journey to becoming an enlightened being.

Amazing Grace, 10” x 20” Mixed Media on Canvas

I have also been exploring the fine art of Assemblage. This is where you take random and discarded 3-D items and “assemble” them into a sculptural piece, which will either stand on its own or hang on the wall. This appeals to the “pack rat “in me that wants to save everything and make something new with it, with a further benefit of saving it from contributing to the landfills.   

When creating any kind of art, my intention is for the viewer to be drawn into my artwork long enough to forget their troubles and experience a moment of peace and thoughtful reflection as we navigate this hectic and crazy world we live in. 

The Psychology of Peace, 36” x 48” Paper Mosaic Collage on Canvas

This is Week 19 of 52 Artists in 52 Weeks. Thank you for reading and sharing Raven’s story today. To see more of Raven’s work and connect with her, please visit her website. You can also connect with her on Facebook.

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