Meet the Maker: Janice MacDougall
Janice MacDougall is an artist based in County Durham in the north-east of England, who works mostly in watercolours, acrylics and collage. Four years ago she also discovered a love of spinning and weaving. Here Janice talks to fellow Folksy seller Angela from Woofs and Wool about coming back to art after two decades in nursing, and the benefits of taking time to immerse yourself in slow crafts in our busy, fast-moving world.
Enjoy 15% off Janice MacDougall’s pieces with code ‘Folksy15’ until 14th March 2022
Hello Janice. Can you introduce yourself and tell me a little about your work?
Hi Angela, I’m Janice and I live in County Durham with my husband and daughter. I paint mostly small one-off paintings using watercolours or acrylics, which I get printed as cards too.
I also love to spin and weave, which I only started doing about four years or so ago. I love the process of carding the fibres and then spinning them. It’s always exciting to see what you end up with. Then I use my hand spun yarn in my weaving. I find the whole process meditative.
I’m wondering if you’ve always been creative. Can you tell me about your artistic journey?
I was always creative as a child and loved nothing better than a set of crayons and a colouring book or some fuzzy felt! Art was all I ever wanted to do.
I went to art college after my A-Levels to do a foundation course in Art and Design. Unfortunately I never got in to university to do an art degree, so I was a bit lost for a while and didn’t know what to do. It was the 1980s, so jobs weren’t easy to come by, plus art wasn’t really considered a good choice. After being unemployed for a while, I ended up getting a job in a nursing home and eventually trained to be a nurse, which I did for 20 years.
For around 10 years after art college I never did anything creative. Eventually though my creativity came back and I did some courses in textiles and embroidery and, after a while, started selling my textile art and paintings online. I gave up my nursing career in 2013 and haven’t looked back since.
I love working for myself and selling my art and crafts. It’s always wonderful to get such lovely reviews and sometimes a photo of a painting in a customer’s home. It makes me really happy.
I love walking and like to take photos of things I see on my travels… a lot of my paintings feature little houses in fields.Janice MacDougall
I see from your bio that you’re inspired by the countryside, colour and texture. Which of these is your biggest influence and why?
Probably the countryside, I love walking and like to take photos of things I see on my travels, such as flowers, leaves and fields with old barns or cottages in them. A lot of my paintings feature little houses in fields.
I take photos of things that I think I might use for my art as reference material. Even if you walk a route you’ve done lots of times before, you can always see something that inspires you.
It’s good to just play without any fixed idea of what you want to do. It doesn’t always work out well, but I suppose that’s how we learn!Janice MacDougall
Could you describe your creative process, from concept to the final piece?
I do use a sketchbook for doodling ideas but I also use Procreate on an iPad, which is great for developing ideas. I think a lot about what I want to paint, especially while I’m walking, and it can take a while for everything to come together. I use my photos for reference and fiddle around with composition and colours until I’m happy to start painting. But sometimes, especially for the really small paintings I do, I just like to paint and see what happens. It’s good to just play without any fixed idea of what you want to do. It doesn’t always work out well, but I suppose that’s how we learn!
I see from your lovely Folksy shop that you use a wide variety of crafting mediums in your work. As a yarn addict I’m particularly drawn to the spinning and weaving aspect of your skills and your beautiful scarves. Can you tell me more about these?
I only started spinning and weaving four years ago after going to Woolfest in Cumbria. I had a go on a Saori loom and really loved the process. I was hooked! So I bought myself a little rigid heddle loom and taught myself how to weave from books and videos. I’ve also got a floor loom now, so I can make bigger pieces too.
I love making items from wool I have spun myself. It’s great to be able to slow down and it helps with my anxiety, plus it’s totally sustainable.Janice MacDougall
I used to buy my wool, but that can be expensive, so I decided to learn how to spin my own wool. I then bought a second-hand spinning wheel and taught myself from YouTube videos and endless practising.
It will be a continual learning process but I love making items from wool I have spun myself – they are slow crafts and that’s part of the attraction in this busy world we live in. It’s great to be able to slow down and it helps with my anxiety, plus it’s totally sustainable.
Where do you carry out your art? Do you have a designated workspace?
I have my workspace in a spare bedroom turned into an art room. It’s not very big, so I do inhabit the living room and dining room with spinning and weaving equipment at times (most of the time!). I would love a room that was big enough to do all my work in – so would my husband!
Do you have a favourite piece you’re particularly proud of?
I used to do a lot of textile art pieces and made a textile art box for my City and Guilds Stitched Textiles diploma. It was machine and hand embroidered, so a lot of work was involved but I was really pleased with how it turned out.
And finally, what do you do in your downtime or spare time (if you have any!) to relax?
I don’t have much spare time at the moment, but when I do I love to walk. We have a disused railway track near where we live, so we walk along that a lot. But we also love a drive out into Weardale or Teesdale to do some walking.
We are hoping to do some long distance walks in the next couple of years, such as the Hadrian’s Wall path or Weardale Way.
I also love to read. It’s great to become absorbed in another world for a while. I’ve just finished reading Walking Home by Simon Armitage about his adventures while completing the Pennine Way.
That would be an epic long distance walk!
Enjoy 15% off Janice MacDougall’s art and weaving with code ‘Folksy15’ until 14th March 2022
Shop Janice MacDougall Art on Folksy
Meet the interviewer
Janice was talking to fellow Folksy maker, Angela from Woofs and Wool.