Meet Artist and Printmaker - Ian McDonald

In our ongoing Meet the Maker series we get to know artist and printmaker Ian McDonald and learn what inspires his bold and minimalist work.

HOW DID YOU FIRST GET INTO PRINTMAKING?

I have always liked black-and- white graphic art, and originally wanted to be a cartoonist (my first comic strip was produced when I was four years old). After a 20-plus- year diversion into architecture, I decided a few years ago to return to my graphic roots. 

WHAT INSPIRES YOUR WORK?

Inevitably, architecture (after all those years), but I quickly found that the simple, blocky forms of West Wales buildings suited my style well – perhaps because the need to strip back to basics is less than it is for more elaborate scenes. Having based myself in Solva, I started with north Pembrokeshire views and expanded from there. For Origin, I have produced a set of Carmarthen- and Carmarthenshire-based images, which I hope will appeal to the gallery’s visitors.

 St Llawddog's Well, Cenarth

St Llawddog's Well, Cenarth


As I have applied the approach to subjects drawn from wider travel, I’ve discovered that simple rural buildings just about anywhere provide a suitable subject, if you know where to look. Away from their elaborate temples and shrines, southern India and the highlands of central Vietnam have supplied quirky thatched cottages to rival those of Devon and Somerset – while the more conventional Georgian/Victorian setpieces of a Bath or a Budapest have proved more of an obstacle. And, there’s always the ‘Will it sell?’ dilemma: I find a cluster of buildings in some remote Welsh hamlet or Tamil temple town fascinating – but, will anybody else?

WHAT DO YOU MOST LIKE ABOUT THE MEDIUM?

Exactly that: that it can be applied to just about any subject provided it can be stripped
down to basic monochrome without losing its essence. The pen-and- ink approach –
harking back to my cartoonist days – allows a looser, more flowing treatment than
painstaking wood- or linocuts would.

 Market Hall Tower, Carmarthen.jpg

Market Hall Tower, Carmarthen.jpg

 

HAVE YOU GOT A FAVOURITE PIECE YOU HAVE CREATED, IF SO WHY? 

Most of my images form more conventional ‘scenes’, which, typically, reach out to the
edges of the frame. However, I tend to prefer the subjects that I’ve been able to reduce to a standalone image in the middle of the page – almost a ‘stamp’, which I feel flatters this graphic style. So, my image of Pembrokeshire’s Celtic Carew Cross or the buildings of Cork City
clustered around St Anne Shandon’s church are some of my favourites – and I hope that
my new images of the market buildings in Carmarthen and Newcastle Emlyn will join
them.