21 SECRETS Spotlight :: Raven Skye McDonough


Every Wednesday at Dirty Footprints Studio Tonia Jenny, the 21 SECRETS Creative Director & Course Manager,  is interviewing one of the talented teachers in our program.  Be sure to sign up for blog notifications below to never miss a spotlight — and CLICK HERE to check out past interviews. 

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Hello Sweet Soul!

The spotlight this week is shining on Raven Skye McDonough, whose beautiful Paper Mosaic Collages I first encountered when I was working on the Incite – The Best of Mixed Media series published by North Light Books. Her work is truly striking and I get lost in her myriad textures and details. Many if not most of the collage papers Raven uses in her collage works begin as her own painted papers. In her 21 SECRETS Paper, Glue, Scissors workshop—Creating Unique Stamps to Embellish Mixed-Media Collage Papers—Raven shares her technique for carving and using stamps in these painted papers. Enjoy this interview with her and little peek into her creative approach.

How have your creative pursuits morphed or changed over the years?

A little background on my artistic journey so far. My first “love” was drawing and working with pastels when I was a teenager. I transitioned to paints—both oils and acrylic—during high school, and while in art school and afterwards, I considered myself a painter.

To keep myself challenged, I love to experiment and try new mediums. One day back in 2008, I took a one-day watercolor-and-collage workshop in Bedford, NH and fell in love with incorporating paper into my work. It wasn’t long before I started covering all of my watercolor paintings with many layers of paper, and a new style I call Paper Mosaic Collage was born!

Another way of explaining this technique is to say I “paint with paper” to create the image. This is very different from traditional collage which uses images (usually from magazines or photographs). The traditional collage artist then cuts up the images and reassembles them in a new way to create a totally new image.

While focusing on creating paper mosaic collages over the years, I started to miss painting and decided to experiment and see what happened when I mixed the two mediums. From there I’ve added Venetian plaster and crackle medium with the acrylic and collage and I’ve been getting very exciting results.

About a year ago, I went back to working with pastels. (They sure have changed over the years for the better!) This has led me to creating acrylic under paintings with my hand carved stamps and laying the pastel over the texture of the underpainting.

Is there a certain new-to-you material that you just can’t get enough of?

Soft Pastels! I can’t get enough color variations and have spent a small fortune building my collection. Since soft pastels are basically the same pigments as in paint (soft pastels have a dry binder vs a wet one) the saturation of color when applied to a variety of papers is amazing! I am really having fun re-exploring working with soft pastels.

In what do you find inspiration that it seems few others find inspiring?

The inspiration behind my art first came from my love of nature and wildlife. Because of my love for all animals, my dream was to be a veterinarian or an artist growing up. This is the reason you can find all kinds of critters and birds in my artwork.

With my relocation from New Hampshire to Florida in 2010, I have found inspiration with time spent exploring the Florida landscape, rivers, and the waters of the Gulf. Photographing and watching the amazing array of tropical birds has influenced some very vibrant pieces.

With that said, I have created my share of what I call “pretty pictures” over the years of flowers and landscapes; which are lovely to look at but don’t really tell a story or raise awareness about social or environmental issues. I read somewhere recently that “not all art is inspired by beauty” and I totally agree.

My current inspirations are drawn from my nightly dreams, the over development of natural habitat for wildlife to live and prosper, the vanishing middle class in America, challenges facing women, minorities and the homeless to name a few.

What is the one thing you hope we remember from your workshop?

Always ask yourself, what if? Experiment, try new mediums and have no fear! This will help you discover your own personal style.

What is your life mantra?

I am a huge component of living and working by the Golden Rule—treat people (animals and the earth, too) how you would like to be treated; kindness really does matter!

I loved learning of Raven’s commitment to wildlife and other causes that influence her artwork. You can witness her love of exploring different techniques by playing with the creation of your own stamps in her workshop, and if you’d like to learn more about Raven or her work, take a look at her website or social media feeds.

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About Raven Skye

Raven-SkyeMcDonough_headshotRaven Skye McDonough is an award-winning Florida artist with deep ties to her native New England upbringing. Raven started out her art career as a painter, using both oils and acrylic. Raven now creates using a mixed-media collage technique she developed over the years, and most recently incorporating soft pastels, to create truly unique artwork.

Classically trained at The School of the Worcester Art Museum in Massachusetts, Raven currently draws her inspiration from nature, wild life and her nightly dreams. Her deep spiritual connection and social awareness also has her tackling subject matter ranging from war, environmental issues, political concerns, and the human journey to become enlightened beings.

Raven has exhibited in group and solo shows in New York, Florida, New England and other East Coast art markets. She’s sold many works of art to private collectors, and was selected as Florida Artist of the year by Twin Cities TOSCA Art & Culture magazine for its American Artist series 2013.


Raven Skye is teaching “Creating Unique Stamps to Embellish Mixed-Media Collage Papers”

In this workshop, I will demonstrate how easy it is to make a unique stamp using a Speedball Speedy-Cut Printing Block and stencils. Unlike linoleum or wood blocks, Speedy Cut is a soft rubber-like material that is very easy to carve.

Spark your imagination and use the stamp to embellish your art-journal pages, collage papers, handmade greeting cards and to create unique textures as an underpainting for soft pastels or acrylics. The possibilities are endless!

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