Questionnaire: Theresa MacKnight

Thank you for joining us for our third “Quarantine Questionnaire” where we are, again, getting to know your artists…from a safe distance. 

Today we get to know a little more about Theresa MacKnight

“I was born in Saint John New Brunswick (west side). I spent my childhood
between exploring the beaches of Saint John’s west side and the woods
and rivers of Charlotte County, where my parents and extended family hail
from. I always drew and made art. I threw everything away because art
was something I did; an action, not a thing or product to make. I don’t
know why that is. I did not come from a family of art or culture, but they
were always busy and creative in an independent DIY way (those are the
Charlotte County ways).I went right from Saint John High School to art
school because, for me there was no other path in life. My parents agreed.
I studied art at Mount Allison U, and Nova Scotia College of Art & Design. I
got married to a wonderful man and tried to do art full time but didn’t
understand how to make a living at it and didn’t have anyone to show me
the way, so I decided to become an art teacher so I could keep painting
and help to support the family. I taught high school art for 20 years in
Miramichi and 8 years in St. Stephen. During that time, we raised two sons
while I continued to show and make art. Eventually, the painting voice got
louder and louder to the point that I can barely concentrate on anything
else. Now I am retiring from teaching and I am so looking forward to
making even more paintings and pushing my skills. To be continued….”

What’s the first thing you have to drink in the morning to get your day
started?
Coffee with cream and honey

What art movement or artist has influenced your personal style?
Can you show reference to that in any particular piece or use of your
medium?
I constantly look at and consume artwork. I LOVE looking at art.
How can I choose? I’ll just list a few of my faves: John Singer Sargent,
Joaquin Sorolla, Alex Kanevsky, Golucho, Colleen Barry and lately, Denis
Gorodnichy.

What about your medium captivated you to pursue it as an art form?

Encaustic was a challenge to learn because there was no one to teach it
when I started almost 30 years ago. This difficulty was like a dare to me. I
took the dare. It also has a surface quality that is so amazing. I love the
unexpected qualities that this medium offers. Oil painting is equally irresistible to me. It is the materiality of the paint itself that keeps me
coming back for more. Otherwise, why would you do it?

Is there another medium you’d like to try to adapt your style into?

I would like to incorporate wax medium into my oils at some point. Also I would
like to be a better watercolorists. Watercolor is really hard!

What’s the most recent show or exhibition you’ve participated in?

“Deck the Walls”, Sunbury Shores Art and Nature Centre,
December 2019.

Where in the world would you like to visit? Would this reflect in your art?
Or do you need a break from your own style?

New York City or Florence, Italy. I need to see more art in person, period. I think this would help me
grow as an artist.

What’s your favourite colour? Do you use it in your work?

Green. Green is everywhere in my work. I think there is more range in
greens than in any other color.I have a collection: Sap green (bad habit),
permanent green, 3different viridians, thalo green, fluorescent green,
Emerald green, Jodoin’s Olive green, Cinnabar green, Cobalt green and
Terre vert (and that is just the oil paint green collection. I did not list the dry
pigments I use for encaustic). Do I have a green “problem”?


Is there something particularly complicated about your medium that most
people aren’t aware of?

Well, many people aren’t aware of how encaustic is applied. Some people think that I make an oil painting and just cover it with wax. Rather the wax IS the paint. I make my encaustic paint from
natural beeswax that I get from an apiary that services the blueberry industry. After I purify it,and melt it, I add dry pigments. I can mix any color I want, but you have to keep it hot in order to paint with it. My palette is an electric frying pan from Home Hardware. I also must fuse each layer of
paint to the one underneath. For this, I use a blowtorch or a travel iron (from Value Village). Everything in my encaustic studio is DIY.

Where do you envision your artwork ending up? A city loft?
Corporate boardroom? Wistful cottage?

Wow! Good question. I see my art
in ordinary homes but I am not averse to boardrooms.

What are you working on right now?

I am working on a new encaustic deer piece and and getting ready to head
out for some plein air painting in coming days. I am prepping panels with
Gamblin oil ground and organizing materials for outdoors. Once the nice
weather comes, I hit the ground running for outdoor work. Plein air can be
difficult but it really kicks your butt skills wise. It’s as good as any art
school.

Do you have a vice that you indulge in to reward or motivate
yourself? 

Pie (any kind) and trash TV.

Do you listen to music when you work (if yes, who and what type) or
do you need silence?

Oh yes! Lots of music, often loud and varied. I like a
lot of singer songwriter stuff as well as classic rock. Some of my faves are:
Lucinda Williams, Jason Isbell, Mayhemingways, Amanda Shires, Queen,
Rolling Stones, Tom Petty, Tragically Hip, Fleetwood Mac, The Clash……
Lately, and more with Covid, I listen to a lot of podcasts about art. I
reminds me that I am not alone.

What do you find encourages you most to get into your work space
and create?

I get anxious and sad when I am away from painting. I feel it
is this need that propels me.

How many galleries represent your work?

2 (including Handworks)

Have you worked with another local artist who you find vibes well
with your flow. Has this resulted in any partner art projects?

Hmmm… I’ve always been a lone ranger when it comes to projects but I am inspired my
many artist all over New Brunswick. I’m always open to partnerships.

Is there a local artist who you WOULD like to work with on a project?

If you mean by local, Saint John, then I would have to say Lynn
Wiggington or Sheryl Crowley.

Has being an artist thrown you any curve balls that you genuinely did
not see coming?

I’m not sure if you would call this a “curve ball” but over
the years, I have found friendship and a community of artists and art
supporters that I would never have expected when I was young.

Pets? Tell us about them.

I have 2 cats; one who is 19 years old and
pretty much bosses us around, and the other who is 12, better-natured but
quite fat. In my opinion, this makes him more cuddly.

What’s your perfect way to “reset” your mind?

Painting, walking, and
driving in the car.

 What season is your favourite and why?

Fall, because the light and
color is the absolute best.

What’s your most productive season?

Summer. This has always
been because I am a teacher but, now that I am retiring, this may change.

If you weren’t an artist, what career path could you see yourself
pursuing?

If art wasn’t in the picture, and I was 30 years younger, I would
go into forestry/wildlife management. No joke.

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