Beaver - Melanie MacDonald

Niagara Artist’s Water Studies

By Angela Scappatura, QMI Agency Niagara

St. Catharines painter Melanie MacDonald will exhibit her series Pond Life in the Dennis Tourbin Members’ Gallery at the Niagara Artists Centre Oct. 10-18.

  1. CATHARINES – Many of Melanie MacDonald’s paintings reveal a breadth of subjects. She’s exhibited paintings of board games, fish and old scrapbook images (a nod to her interest in vintage things).

    While some of her themes are seemingly random, others reveal corners of the St. Catharines artist’s life.

    The latter applies to Pond Life, MacDonald’s new exhibit at the Niagara Artists Centre’s Dennis Tourbin Members’ Gallery. The show opens on Wednesday and runs for two weeks.

    The series includes eight pieces documenting life in and around a pond in the Upper Ottawa Valley. MacDonald and her significant other decided to document the pond around 2002 when it was first being constructed.

    “This series is an outgrowth of Steve and I spending time watching this pond change shape. In 2002 we helped his dad build a log cabin on his bush lot and his dad got this large pond dug out,” she said. “We stocked it with rainbow trout and planted trees around it and shrubs. We’d be watching what was this man-made looking thing change shape.”

    Although MacDonald is quick to say she doesn’t plan to be a wildlife painter, capturing images of nature is a perfect fit. She admits to enjoying “puddling around the pond,” hiking and fishing.

    MacDonald takes photographs of her subjects then, when she returns to her downtown St. Catharines studio, records what she sees. In Pond Life, MacDonald became enthralled with the details her camera captured.

“The reflective surfaces and compositions and this sort of camouflage of some of these creatures,” she said. “I enjoyed finding the patterns in the landscape and zooming in on those.”

One as-of-yet untitled piece features a hole in the ice, with a colander and two small fish laying beside it. The odd placement of a colander and the almost universe-like light pattern reflected in the hole intrigued her.

MacDonald spends most days, nine to five painting in her studio. And she admits, her muse prefers morning and sunlight. Listening to audio books while she works also helps her focus, she said.

After the Pond Life exhibit, MacDonald will continue working on a large scale exhibit she has scheduled at the St. Thomas Art Gallery in 2014. For that, she’ll create a large piece based on her scrapbooking art.