Our Guest Speaker for the KAS August Meeting was Debbie Mackinnon who presented on “Randomness in my Art Practice”.
Debbie energised the KAS Audience with her much varied international career and life of Art. Debbie’s brilliant sense of “situational humour” had us all chuckling or smiling in recognition of similar experiences. Debbie shared her commitment to a daily update of her sketch books, especially when travelling the globe. Debbie shared many of her sketchbooks and art materials with the KAS audience. Drawing with one’s other hand, the left if you are right handed, is sure to add greater variation and creativity to your works, assures Debbie.
Thank you Debbie, for a most inspiring presentation.
From our Meeting Reporter:
Debbie is originally from the UK where she couldn’t decide whether to be an artist or a surgeon. To paint things or cut them up! Logic said, become a medical illustrator. She spent years learning anatomy and went to operations, drew pictures and created very detailed work, but decided at the end of 4 years that she hated it. It had to be too accurate and you were restricted to having to draw whatever was in front of you. Debbie then moved on to draw layouts for illustrated books. She loved being in an office with other people at a publishing house where she did cookery books, children’s books (40 or 50 books for kids) being able to draw an idea fast meant people could understand the idea fast. When her husband’s job brought them to Australia 21 years ago, she worked at Billy Blue teaching drawing and illustration. It was while teaching that she realised that students who struggled with their drawing often did better using the other hand – using the other side of the brain. So she gave herself a challenge and spent a year drawing one drawing a day with the left hand. Contents of the fridge, shopping bag, handbag etc anything, just to improve hand-eye coordination. She still really loves drawing and goes to Life Drawing Classes every week. When drawing she doesn’t look at the paper for the first 10 drawings or so. This gets rid of the judgement and allows you to warm up in your drawing. Loose drawings get your eye in for the longer pose. Once she decided to be a full-time artist, Debbie got a studio where she could make a mess and paint large and abstract and have a go. She wanted the joy of slapping paint around. The Studio was the back of a butcher shop that had been empty for a long time and the Lease allowed as much paint on the floor as she wanted. When making a painting she puts a ground down first as she likes there to be something to look at to get her mind working. The proper painting is done with oil but under painting may be done in acrylic. She loves large works but abstract wasn’t right for her she feels she needs some figuration but treads a line between abstract and figurative. Layering of imagery is very important and she likes to confront herself and surprise herself. Debbie paints everything that will be blue, orange, or everything that would eventually be green in red. Colours really pop. At present Debbie is working with a group of Artists called “Paint with Me” who work out of “Me artspace” in Atchison Street, St Leonard. This was an old Florist warehouse which Debbie came across by chance and with a lot of hard work has turned into a fabulous place to work. It is a huge space with a shopfront gallery which is rented out at discount rates for 2 week exhibitions. She also runs classes from there and other artists share the space. Debbie goes to work at the studio everyday and love the interaction with the other artists. Having this group is a change of pace and a chance to re-evaluate your work. Debbie encourages all to keep working hard, entering competitions and to embrace modern technology by using social media such as Facebook and Instagram to promote your work.
Debbie paints contemporary landscapes in oils. She works from her studio at meArtspace in Sydney and Killcare on the Central Coast NSW.
She initially went through a rigorous academic training as a medical and scientific illustrator in London before moving sideways into a successful career as an art director in publishing, where she wrote and designed many award-winning children’s books.
After moving to Australia twenty years ago, she was drawn back to the paintbrush and she has painted full time for the past twelve years. She is the founder and director of me Artspace in St Leonards, Sydney. Debbie taught at Billy Blue Design College in North Sydney for fifteen years, but now runs painting workshops at meArtspace every week.
Debbie’s presentation is called “Randomness in my Art Practice”.