Creating the Canvas of Your Life: A conversation with two emerging artists – Chelsea McDonald

This blog is the second related to my podcast episodes with two emerging artists.  In the spring of 2021 I met Chelsea at the Banff Springs hotel, where she was working. I learned that she painted on the side, and asked to see her Instagram page.  Needless to say, I was impressed with her beautiful paintings of the surrounding nature.

She was humble about dabbling in art, but I saw incredible potential, and ended up commissioning her to do two paintings of the beautiful scenery around the Banff Springs hotel and golf course.  These now hang proudly in my living room. She is photographed below with one of these.

When were you first drawn to creating art?  Do you believe you were born to be an artist?

Chelsea described how she has been painting and creating her whole life. She credits her mother as her early influencer, saying how: “My mother is incredibly talented with any art form she dabbles with and she very much encouraged my brother and I with crafts and painting at a young age. I do not think anyone is born to be an artist. I think it is something you need to have patience with.”

 

“I do not think anyone is born to be an artist. I think it is something you need to have patience with.” – Chelsea McDonald

 

Tell us about your main jobs and how you carve out time for your art?

Chelsea describes how: “working in hospitality cannot ensure any particular time schedule, so I would fill it in as I could, or when the inspiration came to me. I try to be outdoors as much as I can, but sometimes I feel too lazy or just want some ME time. In those instances I paint, and once I start something I usually can’t be pulled away until it’s done and I even think about the piece while I go to sleep. Usually I will paint in one or two very long sittings or shorter sessions over a few days.   I try not to make my ME time a chore.”

The Devil’s Cauldron (2021) 24” x 36” by Chelsea McDonald

How does it feel when you are immersed in your art?

“That would depend on the day. I go through quite a wide range of emotions when I paint. I go in with a particular plan and often abandon many course of action as things come together. This is sometimes an exhilarating and positive experience, and sometimes an angry one as frustrations in my life and the particular piece come to light.

My partner and my roommates know this in my home as “Rage Painting”. It may sound strange, but I find the finale of the day or the piece to be very cathartic and often exhausting in a freeing way. The painting goes through what I’m going through. In the end, each piece is a soothing experience and journey.”

How do you get back on track when life/work is getting in the way of time for your art?

“If I am not making time for creativity in some way, it usually means I’m not making time for “me”. This can happen, as life does but my “me time” is very important to me and certainly impacts my well-being on a day-to-day basis.  We all deserve our me time.”

 

“It may sound strange, but I find the finale of the day or the piece to be very cathartic and often very exhausting in a freeing way. The painting goes through what I’m going through. In the end, each piece is a soothing experience and journey.” – Chelsea McDonald

 

What advice do you have for others who are struggling to find time for hobbies or passions, like art?

“We cannot do it all. However, some is better than none at all.  Time spent creating something will never be a waste of your time, and it is easy to tell yourself that there are more important things than playing around, when that’s not really true. “

 

Two Jack Lake (2021) by Chelsea McDonald[/caption]

How has the pandemic been an opportunity to evolve your work and lives?  Did your art help you during the pandemic?

“I definitely think my art helped me through the pandemic. There’s been a lot of fear, resentment and stress that has come with this last year and a half and my art helped clear my head. When I paint, everything else melts away.”

If you could have one wish for a better world when it comes to work/life, what would it be?

“I’d wish for condensed work weeks so we could all have an extra day to spend with and on the things we love.”

 

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Born in PEI, Chelsea came to the Rockies for a 6 month temporary internship in 2011 and has been in love with the mountains ever since. She works in the sales department for Fairmont Hotels, and lives in beautiful Banff, Alberta. She hopes to share her pieces with those who feel moved by the same vision.   

Find Chelsea on Instagram