Tag Archives: Quinn McDonald

Artist Interview – Quinn McDonald

14 Jun

I’m happy to say that Quinn McDonald is coming to teach this summer at Blue Twig Studio. I’ve been following her blog for quite some time now and really enjoy it. She offers a good variety of posts covering art and everyday life.  I also have a couple of her books and they are very insightful. I am looking forward to meeting her in person. I thought we might like to get to know Quinn better before she arrives, so I sent her some questions.


  • Can you share a brief bio of who you are?

—> I’m a writer who is also an artist, so my art usually has letters or number forms in it. The other part of my life is really exciting for me. I’m a  life- and creativity coach, and I help people who are stuck in their creative life. Maybe they have too many ideas, maybe not enough. Or they aren’t making meaning with their work or can’t get into flow. It’s a wonderful work because I learn so much.

  • What is your earliest memory of creating art?

—> My mother was ill when I was very young, so we had a lot of “quiet time.” She bought me some non-hardening clay (called plasticine) and I spent hours making people and animals, and equipment for them, using twigs, leaves, can lids. I invented whole other worlds and histories for those worlds.

I also loved paper dolls, but didn’t like the clothing they came with. So I made “fashion” outfits for them that I’m just glad I never had to create in real life!

  • Have you always been an artist or did you find art at a later age?

—> I never thought of myself as an artist when I was in school. There were a lot of rules, and those children with obvious illustration talent were encouraged. The “test” was to draw a horse from memory. We were seven or eight. I drew a purple one with yellow wings and had a great backstory for it, but it didn’t pass the test. I got put in finger-painting group after that. I loved collage, which I discovered as a teenager. I was told it wasn’t art. I didn’t think of myself as a “real” artist until I became a papermaker when I was an adult.

  • Do you have formal education in the arts?

—> I have taken many courses in the arts—collage, assemblage, watercolor, drawing, book arts, traditional book binding, alternative book binding, altered arts. But I do not have a university degree in art. My undergraduate degree is in biology and English, and my graduate degree is in cross-cultural studies.

  • What is your preferred medium to work in?

—> My heart is in collage and creating the colored papers that go into the collage. That’s where Monsoon Papers come in (NOTE: this is the class she is teaching at Blue Twig Studio in July). But I’m also a journaler, so my work falls into the mixed media category.

  • Who has been most influential to your work?

—> So many people. Mostly not famous people. The woman who taught me how to make papers out of plants I grew. The woman who taught me how to marble paper.

Artists who follow their art because it makes meaning for them, no matter what anyone else thinks. (I usually run blog articles about those artists on Saturdays). Outsider artists. The work of current artists like KK Santini, for her amazing use of color. Collage artist Elizabeth St. Hilaire Nelson, who taught me to paint and tear my way into illustrative collage. Laurie Doctor for her use of calligraphy and letterforms in art. Gina Armfield and Dina Wakely for their unfailing cheer and encouragement. So many of my fellow North Light authors—Diana Trout, Orly Avenieri, and Margaret Peot. Wow, how much space do you have?

  • Where else do you teach?

—> I teach regularly at Arizona Art Supply, both in Tucson and Phoenix. Last year I taught at Madeline Island School of Arts in Lake Superior, north of Wisconsin. Frenzy Stamper in Scottsdale, AZ. I’m cutting back on teaching art for a while, to work on some collage development projects and on some writing projects. (I am glad she decided to add Blue Twig Studio to her summer schedule!)

  • What types of classes do you teach?

—> Mostly technique classes, not so much project classes. I like to explore and experiment with people, not so much make something that can be given as a gift. I teach a lot of writing classes as well.

  • What is your favorite class to teach?

—> Monsoon Papers. Hands down, it is always a surprise and it never goes wrong. And makes the best collage papers. In writing, it’s Magic Words, and for a combination of work, it’s Inner Hero work.

  • Where have you exhibited your art work?

—> For 15 years, I was an exhibiting artist at art shows all along the East Coast. I was a silversmith and jewelry maker. It was good for a while, then I wasn’t being creative, just cranking out work to sell. I have it up and promised myself that I would not do that again. Now I’m thinking of getting gallery representation for my collage work.

  • What is your favorite art quote?

—> I have 34 pages of “favorite quotes.” Here are two of my favorites:

 “Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work.” –Chuck Close

“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” —e e cummings

  • What advice would you give to the readers of this blog?

—> I don’t give advice. Learned that as a coach. But one of the big learnings that I still work on is that nothing beautiful is learned quickly or without effort. Art needs practice. Classes that let you assemble a project and add some color have nothing to do with learning. Learning is about failure. And getting up the nerve to do it again. That’s where the real learning, the real joy is.

  • Share your links to your blog, website, facebook, etc.

Website: QuinnCreative.com

  • Share info about your books you have written.
—> I’ve written a number of books. The two most recent are both for North Light books: Raw Art Journaling and The Inner Hero Creative Art Journal. I also have a DVD coming out in support of Inner Hero. And right now, at this second, I’m in negotiation with a publishing company that approached me to write a book. So keep your fingers crossed!

So now we know a lot more about Quinn, and for me, that makes a difference when I am thinking of taking classes with somebody new. I’d love to have you sign up for her upcoming class at Blue Twig Studio – Monsoon Papers: Ink, Water, Words. Even the title sounds enticing to me. The class is July 19th, so put it on your calendar now!!! I know that she is looking forward to getting out of the heat of Arizona in the middle of July and coming to beautiful Colorado. And we are looking forward to having her teach us something new.
Let Your Inner Artist Out To Play
Blue Twig Studio – 5039 N Academy Blvd – Colorado Springs, CO 80918
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A word for the New Year

19 Dec

The New Year is fast approaching, with resolutions on a lot of minds. I’m not so big on resolutions, but am going to choose a word for the year. My friend Liz Kettle at Textile Evolution always chooses a word for each year. A word that she can focus on or work with or contemplate for the entire year. Last year she encouraged a group of us to also choose a word and of course we all dutifully did. My word for 2011 was “focus” and I really tried to work on that throughout the year and to keep it ever-present in my life. I’m not really sure I was able to accomplish everything that the word encompasses, but I did try. In reality I should probably keep that word for another year since I do still need to work on it. But I am choosing a new word for 2012.


I also recently started following Quinn McDonald over at QuinnCreative and she also does a word of the year and has been encouraging everyone to choose a new word for the upcoming year. And in fact I have seen several people on various blogs and websites talking about chosing a word of the year. Mari Smith has a great post about it, and she is focusing on growth for the new year, as she is much more business oriented. Apparently everyone thinks it is a grand idea!


So I guess I am jumping on the bandwagon here and declaring the need for a word of the year. My word for 2012 is “play”. Since my tag line for Blue Twig Studio is “let your inner artist out to play”, it seems like a really good choice. Plus, then I can play all year and how much fun is that going to be!


We all spend a lot of time trying to do our chores and get things checked off our to-do list and trying to finish up with work assignments, but we forget to add in the playing part. We treat play as an afterthought, or at best something we do when everything else is done. Really? Is everything else ever done? We need play just as much as we need work (that’s the story I am sticking with).


We fondly remember being children and being allowed to play. Yes, as children we played a lot and expressed ourselves much more creatively. Yet there was always that sense that it couldn’t or wouldn’t last. As a child I was always told to finish my chores or my homework before going outside to play (or any other fun activity that I wanted to do). Just like needing to finish all your vegetables before you get any dessert! Well, this year I vow to try to Play first and then do my chores!!!!!!! Sounds like lots of fun, don’t you think?


What word do you think you would like to choose for 2012? What word speaks to you?

30 day creativity pact

12 Dec

I am joining Quinn McDonald at QuinnCreative for a 30 day creativity pact to renew my creativity muse. The idea is to spend 30 days (enough time to create a new habit) writing and walking. I know, it is a busy time of year, but so worth the extra effort to do this. Will you join in too? You can read Quinn’s post about it here. After all, joining others on this journey will help make the journey more interesting and enjoyable, as well as providing some camaraderie for the task.

My intention is to walk every day for at least 15 minutes (quite easy to do even with a busy schedule), but hopefully I can do more than that. I will also write for 15 minutes every day, to reflect on my day and gain some insight into my own self. My plan is to write in the evenings, but you can do it when it is best for you. The writing may be more difficult for me to accomplish than the walking, but I am making this pact, so I am committing myself to doing it.

I am planning on walking everyday, and writing everyday, and I hope it will be reflective and meaningful and creative. Will you join me (and Quinn) in doing this to keep the mindfulness of creativity present in your daily life?


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