Colleen MacDonald

The music, fashion, color, and social scene of Cambridge MA in the 60s and 70s still play a part in what I do as an artist. The first phase of my art life was consumed with music. I grew up playing classical piano and switched to guitar and bass in high school. After years of playing in alternative rock bands, and dabbling on the side in drawing, painting, and fiber arts, I took the full-time art plunge in 2009.

Having a lifelong obsession with fabric (collecting vintage fabric through the years), I had an epiphany when I learned that I could design and create my own fabric. I spend a lot of time now hand-dying fabric, using as many shibori techniques as I have time for. My favorites include a technique called katano, which involves folding fabric and stitching a pattern through the layers before dyeing; itajime, where you fold fabric, clamp a shape around it, then dye it; and nui, where you sew running stitches through fabric and pull the stitches, then dye. I turn the fabric into art quilts incorporating vintage and handmade fabric, and I also make practical items like pillows, dinner napkins, yoga mat bags, etc. . . to bring beautiful handmade goods into everyday life.

In the past two years I have rekindled my interest in painting and have been following the daily painting movement. Working in both oil and acrylic, I’m inspired by nature, pattern, movement and light. My approach is to spend a lot of time, probably too much, thinking and observing patterns in nature and in urban settings. I like to see how the light hits objects at different times of day. I sketch, then paint. With fabric, I try to do this by the way I apply the color to patterns and use a repeat process of adding color, then taking away and adding different colors. I would describe my technique as a combination of planning and just letting go and allowing whatever happens to unfold.