While I encountered the enchanting Kelly McDonald first in Julie Foster Hedlund’s 12x12in12 Picture Book challenge, I really feel I have gotten to know her better in the smaller spin-off, the chapter book challenge, where she beguiles us with her strong love of fantasy and faerie lore.
Kelly is most definitely as skilled with words as with pictures, as you will see below. If you are a chapter book writer and want some more fun and support, do join our FB page.
- Illustrator or author/illustrator?
- What’s your nationality and how does where you have lived influence
[KM] I’m Australian, but lived in Europe for three years, which gave me the time to really study and learn both my love of art, and writing. (JM Too tantalizing, Kelly, you have to tell me where, though with your surname, I am going to guess Scotland?)
- Tell us a little of your beginnings as an artist.
[KM] I remember being in kinder (teaching) and reading a book to the kids and wishing that I could draw like that. I looked hard at the pictures and realized that it was just lines. So I began to draw the kids. Then the parents started buying my portraits. It’s a hard thing for me to do. It isn’t something that comes easy to me. I really have to work at it.
- What is your favorite medium for your artwork?
[KM] I love water colour, digital and acrylic.
- When did you meet your first fairy and how does magic influence your work?
[KM] I have been a ‘fairy’ telling stories and performing magic for 16 years now. I remember ‘talking’ to the faeries in my garden as a small child. Ok so I don’t remember actually seeing any, but I used to talk to them just the same 😉 I can tell you about the last real faerie I saw though! Last year I was in Scotland, and insisted to my husband that I had to see Thomas the Rhymer’s stone. It is where he sat for a rest. I knew a little of the story. He went to sleep and when he woke the queen of the faeries was there, and took him away to fairy land for 200 years. So, eventually we came to the turn off…. A dusty dirt road in the middle of no where. It was a dead end rd. There was a cemetery on one side, a homestead on the other, and nothing else but lovely views. This road was directly off a motorway. Heading down the track we had to stop because a red headed lady upon a white horse was prancing down the middle. We thought it strange. She looked haughtily down at us, not giving an inch, until with a glare she passed our car. We shrugged it off, and continued the 500 metres down the road. We came to the stone, where I read that Thomas did indeed wake to find the queen upon him… her red hair shining, and she sat upon a white horse! So there, I saw the queen of the faeries! My hubby insists that is was just a lady on a horse… but I know better. We were there for all the time it took for me to read the stone and snap a pic…maybe 5 minutes. On our return there was NO SIGN of the lady on the white horse!
- What books and/or illustrators influenced your childhood?
[KM] Definitely Enid Blyton. I was also a huge Louise M Alcott fan. Little women…sigh.
- What does your workspace look like?
[KM] Wherever I can hold a pencil, a paintbrush or my lap top.
- Can you share a piece or two with us, and the process of producing them?
[KM] Sure, this is the piece I won first place in at the CYA conference this year.
- How is being part of the 12x12in12 group adding to your creative life?
[KM] Its fantastic! The support and encouragement is divine! The ladies and gentlemen on board are so helpful and have so much knowledge. Also, via the 12×12 I also got involved in the chapter book challenge, which I think has given me my BEST story ever.
- Can you share with us your published work and hint at what you are working on right now?
[KM] I have a couple of cover art pictures published by Suzan Battah. I also have a few stories that I personalize for my clients. At the moment I am continuing with my little chapter book and I am always creating my ‘garden baby’ fairy art for clients.
- Five Fun Ones to Finish?
What word best sums you up?
If you could live anywhere for a season, where would you go?
[KM] France or maybe Scotland if you could promise the sun would shine.
What do you do for non-art related relaxation?
Cats or dogs?
If you could spend a day with one children’s book character, with whom would that be?
[KM] Definitely moonface from Enid Blyton’s Magic Tree series. Id love to whiz down that slide, or pop up into those clouds to see what land is at the top of that magnificent tree.
[JM] Kelly, thank you so much for sharing some of your artistic journey with those of us in the Northern Hemisphere today. I hope maybe we will meet up one day, maybe at an international SCBWI conference? Airy is my favorite personal description so far! To your continued success.
And if Kelly’s interview was not enough excitement for you today, I am also pleased to announce the winner of the I’M BORED giveaway is – CATHY MEALEY! Cathy please email me (jdmarple at gmail dot com) with your full postal address and Simon & Schuster will be sending you your copy of I’M BORED, while lovely illustrator, Debbie Ohi will send you a signed doodle!