Artist Feature: Ramona MacDonald (portrait artist)

An Interview With An ArtRage Artist


Ramona MacDonald is a US-based portrait artist who uses pastels to create gorgeous, softly realistic portraits and landscapes.

Caira crop artrage art by Ramona MacDonald
Close up from ‘Caira’

ArtRage Editions: ArtRage 4.5

Platforms: Windows 10, iPad

Background: Traditional Art

Website: ramonamacdonald.myportfolio.com

Who are you? What do you want the internet to know about you?

Up until a couple of years ago, I would have answered this question by saying I was a commission artist and illustrator who has been selling my work since I was 12. I was someone who just wanted to make enough money to prevent the catastrophe of having to get a conventional job. But I did end up having to get a job, like most artists do, which had the result of freeing me up to start start exploring the art I’ve had locked up somewhere deep down and out of the way.

What country are you from?

I’m originally from South Africa – an Afrikaner girl. My family immigrated to the U.S. when I was 14.

Marile artrage art by Ramona MacDonald

What kind of artist are you? What kind of subjects do you draw?

I am primarily a portrait artist. Faces never cease to intrigue me.

Do you come from a digital or traditional art background?

Traditional – anything in a pencil shape.

Lourens artrage art by Ramona MacDonald
The Cold artrage art by Ramona MacDonald
The Cold

Do you use other programs or traditional media?

I really don’t, no. Artrage has all the tools I need.

How long have you been using ArtRage?

About 2 years.

How did you come across the program?

Artrage came with my Wacom Intuos tablet. When I opened it and realized how refreshingly simple and comprehensive it was I was hooked within days.

Caira artrage art by Ramona MacDonald

What ArtRage works or projects are you most proud of?

So far, my proudest work is always my most recently completed work. I’ve been exploring a concept of pastel carvings colorless works in marble. I started working on “Caira” with the idea of creating another sculptured look, but started sweeping away edges with the palette knife towards the end. The results have me anticipating where my next pieces might take me…

How do you choose what to draw?

I choose subjects I feel I can relate to my audience: places I’ve been, people I know, emotions I feel.

Tracy artrage art by Ramona MacDonald

How would you normally paint a picture? What is your process?

Bernard artrage art by Ramona MacDonald
Bernard Process artrage art by Ramona MacDonald
The process of creating ‘Bernard’

I start out with a simple line sketch, block out the colors in a layer under the line sketch, and start the detailing until I can’t see what I’m doing under the lines anymore. Then everything becomes one layer and the pigment gets piled on very carefully, and blended and pressed into the paper for more detail and a contrast against the rest of the texture.

What are your favourite ArtRage features?

The wonderful pastels. A pencil package I found in the ArtRage forums, and the flat palette knife when it’s set to zero load and full pressure.

Pike Place Market artrage art by Ramona MacDonald
Pike Place Market

Do you have any tips for other artists who might want to do the same thing as you?

Don’t expect the pastel to start doing crazy things until you’ve loaded the paper with pigment then the waxy blending and building and cracking at the paper texture starts happening. Using the palette knife at this point will give you “new” colors blending the colors you’ve already applied. It also bites into the buildup of pigment which I love to see happen.

Man and Device artrage art by Ramona MacDonald
Man and Device
Evangeline artrage art by Ramona MacDonald
Big Sky artrage art by Ramona MacDonald
Big Sky
Contrast Against Cloudbank artrage art by Ramona MacDonald
Contrast Against Cloudbank
The Wind And The Waves artrage art by Ramona MacDonald
The Wind And The Waves

You can view more of Ramona’s work on her website, and purchase her artwork from Fine Art America.

Pastel Cat Tutorial from Ramona MacDonald
Pastel Cat Tutorial by Ramona MacDonald
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