Big ideas turned into small art

Gordon MacDonald knows good things don’t just come in small packages – they also come on copper canvases.

For the past 12 years, the Pre-Shrunk art show has annually taken over the Argyle Fine Art gallery on Barrington Street.

Opening on Jan. 22, the free exhibit will be open until Feb. 13.

Adriana Afford, the gallery’s owner, says it’s a great way to make art more accessible to Haligonians, whether they want to browse or buy.

“You don’t have to be a millionare to appreciate or even buy art,” she says. “We sell things as cheap as $5.”

While handmade cards and earrings are sold separately from the exhibit, every art piece featured in the Pre-Shrunk show costs $175.

This includes 317 paintings, drawings, photographs, sculptures and textiles from a variety of artists.

Some of these artists have found so much success selling their art through Argyle Fine Art that they make a living from the gallery’s sales.

MacDonald is one of them.

Originally from New Brunswick, MacDonald moved to Toronto where he worked as a taxi driver for most of his adult life.

Now 54, MacDonald lives in Halifax and works as an artist full-time.

MacDonald has 23 paintings displayed in the Pre-Shrunk exhibit – 18 of them are already been sold.

Using pieces of copper as his canvas, MacDonald created paintings of cloud formations, sunsets and postcard-like portraits of the Annapolis Valley for the exhibit.

Because copper is a self-protecting metal, when the top layer is removed with sandpaper, oil paint absorbs into the metal that increases the intensity of colours.

MacDonald first learned about using copper during an exhibit he went to in 1992.

Throughout the past decade, he has sold more than 650 of his paintings at Afford’s gallery – and he doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon.

“The way some people feel about needing religion in their life is how I feel about art,” he says.

MacDonald gets his best ideas while driving around the province and looking out the window until he sees something he wants to paint, but he doesn’t call it inspiration.

“I make art from everything I think about,” says MacDonald. “It’s just whatever’s in my head at the moment.”

MacDonald is currently working on a painting of the actor Bill Murray portrayed as a saint using gold leaves.