Meet the Maker - Abby McDougall

Monday, June 02, 2014
If you have visited our Made in Britain shop over the past year it is very likely you were wowed by the work of local artist Abby McDougall.  Abby's watercolour and acrylic scenes of Bristol and beyond will have in love at first sight.  We interviewed Abby last year about her inspiration and her studio space at Jamaica Street Studios.

Please can you introduce yourself and tell us a little about your work?
My name is Abigail McDougall I am a painter based in Jamaica Street Studios, Bristol. I paint landscapes and cityscapes of Bristol, Bath, London and abroad in watercolour, acrylic and oil.
Apart from creating things what else do you do?
I am a keen runner, training for events such as the Bristol Half marathon. I also play music, I write my own songs and sing and play guitar. I also like exploring foreign countries like Morocco and going on adventures by bike. I find a lot of my inspiration for my painting this way.

When did you know you were an artist/maker?
I suppose when I was very young, at school.
What do you love most about working in your chosen discipline?
Getting to explore places to find my subject matter.
Where does your inspiration come from?
Adventures by bike, along the Avon cycle paths and beyond, trips abroad eg. to Morocco and Italy. Going outside when I know the light and atmosphere in going to be interesting in winter or dusk or when it is snowing or in the early morning.
Describe your studio or workspace?
It’s on the first floor of Jamaica Street Studios, it’s an open plan space with partitioned sections. It has massive windows so the light is great, but it’s freezing in the winter and like a furnace in the summer. We have open studios once a year in June and July and we open up the space and make it into a gallery.

If you could peek inside the studio of any artist, designer or craftsman (dead or alive), who would it be?
I’d like to see David Hockney’s studio, it would be full of all kinds of different equipment he has used in his experimentations over the years. Although now his studio is mainly outside in Yorkshire and this is also something I’d like to explore more- more painting outdoors in the countryside.
How would you describe your creative process?
A large chunk of the process is exploring outdoors to find my subject matter. I go out and take sketches, photos, colour studies. Often when I am out I find myself rushing around to get the best light on particular views often it can take months or years before I translate certain parts of my research into a finished artwork. The actual process of painting involves using the white of the paper a lot to create a luminous scene. Because my medium of expertise is watercolour, I use techniques that I would use with watercolours in my oil and acrylic paintings to try and keep them bright and luminous. Experimentation is also really important, by trying new things you can learn things to bring into your artworks and keep your work developing.

What handmade possession do you most cherish?
My jewellery made by Bridgid Heming- this is made using beads and pieces of silver, bronze, ceramics all collected from her travels all around the world. Also an original artwork by Bjorn Lie that I have- the technique he used to create it is almost unfathomable.

What do you when you are stuck in a creative rut?
I look at books of my favourite painters, go to exhibitions, go out and find more subject matter to paint. Generally when you’re professional though there isn’t much time for creative ruts, you just have to press on with it.
Which is your favourite local independent shop or eatery in Bristol & why?
I love the Urban Wood at the top of Colston Street. It has great food and drinks and a really nice atmosphere.

Where would you like to be in ten years?
I’d like to be spending a few months of the year in different countries, perhaps to have done an M.A., keeping my day to day life varied, trying different things, bringing all my experiences into my art.

Thank you Abby. You can find Abby's beautiful framed work on display and for sale in our Made in Britain shop. In other news Abby is also hosting a new exhibition in Cabot Circus called Supernature until the 29th June. For more info click here.

Made in Britain
Quakers Friars
Cabot Circus

Mon - Fri:  10am - 6pm
Sun: 11am - 5pm

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