This Saturday we will be opening our doors for a very special exhibition of original works, by the newest artist to join the Robertson Fine Art Portfolio, James McDonald. Stirling born James McDonald is a figurative artist, with a super-realist approach. A romantic streak underpins all his work, be it his lush oil paintings with their wonderful effects of depth and shadow, texture and feel, or his precise etchings achieved through fine lines and immense detail. If you are unfamiliar with the work of James McDonald – then this blog post is just for you – as we promise once you lay eyes on his series of completely fascinating works, you will be left wanting to know so much more!
McDonald studied at Edinburgh College of Art between the years of 1974 – 78 and then began a career as a teacher at Stirling High School. It was his belief, like many aspiring artists fresh out of art school, that he would never be able to make a profitable life for himself as a full time artist – but soon the urges to create took over and in 1980 he made the decision to go forward as a full time artist. Due to his total dedication and complete professional commitment he made it a success and once said “Being paid to do what I love is marvellous!” He has exhibited in New York, London, Spain, Nuremberg, Belgium….and has work in numerous public and private collections worldwide, including the Victoria and Albert museum, IBM, BBC, Kelvingrove Art Gallery Glasgow, Strathclyde University, The Clydesdale Bank, RBS and The Walter Scott Foundation to name but a few.
McDonald’s skills are endless – he is a portrait painter, a still life painter, a figurative painter, a landscape artist and a print-maker all rolled into one. His collection of works is vast and varied – from oil paintings of solitary slices of bread slathered with Jam – painted with complete precision and accuracy – to highly realistic and striking depictions of passengers waiting patiently in the bold and bright Glasgow subway.
In terms of his still life work, McDonald’s gift is to render inanimate objects as ciphers for personal moments, memories, obsessions. Occasionally the choice of still-life items is arbitrary, and he says “I’ve no real reason to paint these things other than the pleasure and challenge of recreating something in two dimensions.” No object is out of the question for McDonald – he will be inspired by everything from toasters to rolls of rotting sellotape. He is continuously challenging himself artistically and that can be seen throughout his series of works. He has also turned to painting simple scraps of fabric—a dish rag, a worn towel, torn sheet, knitted scarf, built up with layers of glazes. Mundane surfaces, their connotations are all in the eye of the beholder.
Edinburgh College of Art 1974-78 he had trained in Printed Textiles and Fashion. Not till his post-graduate year did he turn enthusiastically to etching.
But in 1986 he surprised his fans again, beginning to create works in oils. His portraits and figurative works both as prints and paintings are completely captivating and McDonald’s keen eye for detail allied to his ability to catch the essence of things, has produced some wonderful work.
One portrait that is repeated many times throughout McDonald’s collection is that of his brother Jonathan – who sadly passed away unexpectedly in 2015 and has been a fundamental part of his career since. His young brother will never know what a huge, important and wonderful inspiration he has been to McDonald who has made many portraits; woodcuts large and small, etchings, aquatints, mezzotints. Some of the most intricate of these has been created using an ancient method of incorporating fine, thin papers onto the plate, which embellishes Jonathan’s face with fragile pages from “The Coal Mines Act of 1920” or a map of the Moon from 1969 Soviet Union atlases or one of Stenhousemuir.
His work is intriguing, memorable, and as time goes on, more seriously powerful. Whether with brush and paint, or ink and needle, he manages to capture that vital essence, that essential spirit which is easy to see and so hard to explain. We are so excited to bring this unique collection of original works and have it on show at our Edinburgh gallery – beginning this Saturday the 11th Of November and running until the 25th of November. So please come along to see all the images above and more in the flesh!
If you would like more details on the work of James McDonald then please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 0131 285 0695.
Kelley Davis – Gallery Manager, Robertson Fine Art Edinburgh