In the Studio with Lynsey MacKenzie.


Lynsey MacKenzie has always been creative, and it was after studying a law degree that she decided to pursue her passion for painting, undertaking a degree in Fine Art (Painting & Printmaking) at the Glasgow School of Art. She now creates art from her studio in Glasgow, where she took some time to tell us a bit more about her journey into the arts and her current practice.

In the Studio with Lynsey MacKenzie.
Lynsey MacKenzie’s Lintel

When Lynsey talks about her formative experience in the arts, she mentions her art room at school – “this magical place at the top of the building, surrounded by windows on all sides, warm and sunny and full of colour”. This description is reminiscent of her soft, bright compositions, which are so full of light. It makes sense that she credits her memories and surroundings as a source of inspiration, and the idea of temporality is so central to her practice.

“I have done a lot of research on how time relates to painting as a medium: how time is expressed as subject matter; the phenomenology of looking at paintings; and the time contained within paintings as objects. I think there is something unique to painting in that it can both be taken in an instant of viewing, but also requires time in order to be read – it doesn’t unfold in a linear timeline. I like the notion of paintings being “time batteries”, which is a phrase from David Joselit, in a book called ‘Painting Beyond Itself’. He said that, ‘Painting marks time’, and, ‘each and every painting is a time battery – it’s apperception could consume a lifetime’. There is something about the painterly surface of a painted image that means that elements emerge slowly as the spectator looks. This complex operation of perception and temporality means that the more you look, the more you see. The notion that a static image can somehow unfold over time is a strange one, but I feel that it is in this strangeness that the liveliness of painting lies. When I’m painting, these are some of the ideas and research that underpin and help me to contextualise my practice”.

In the Studio with Lynsey MacKenzie.
Lynsey in her studio

Lynsey references a number of artists when talking about other sources for inspiration.

“Bonnard is a staple I look to a lot – his use of light, colour and composition are just incredible. Richard Diebenkorn is someone whose practice fascinates me – his bodies of work from his early abstract period, to his figurative work, then his later abstract period of his Ocean Park series. Joan Mitchell for her expansive and expressive painterly language. Amy Sillman for her intuitive compositions and use of colour. Julie Mheretu for the way she layers images and also for her written ideas surrounding painting. Frank Bowling for his experimental and free use of materials”.

In the Studio with Lynsey MacKenzie.
Left: Richard Diebenkorn’s Ocean Park No. 67, 1973
Right: Frank Bowling’s Raining Down South, 1968

When ready to paint, Lynsey’s process is fairly intuitive, driven heavily by compositional concerns as she works out her desired relationships between colours, the materiality of the paint along with the speed and energy she will use to ‘make marks’. Occasionally she will begin working on a small scale – these smaller studies allow her to get a feel for what and how she wants to approach the canvas. Other times Lynsey will paint directly onto the canvas and let her instincts take over. Her techniques and mark making are varied; dry brushwork meets poured thin paint, and areas of thicker wet-on-wet application, creating contrasts between sharp and soft.

In the Studio with Lynsey MacKenzie.
Lynsey MacKenzie’s recent paintings – Oil on canvas.
Left: Summer Blink | Right: Tread Softly

Throughout lockdown, the confines of home working affected Lynsey’s practice in a number of ways. She had to alter her techniques, reduce the scale of her paintings, and generally try to work in a tidier manner.

“I’ve also had to change the way I apply paint. In the studio, I can be messy and drippy and pour paint around, but at home I can’t work like that! So my mark-making has definitely changed – I use more dry brush-marks, scumbling, and glazing than I did before”.

Working on smaller canvases isn’t new to Lynsey, but she started to view them differently. Instead of keeping them as individual works, Lynsey played with the idea of combining them together, to build a larger, alternate image. She’s thankful now with the restrictions easing to be able to settle back into her studio at The Briggait where she can return to large scale and ‘mess‘.

Thank you so much to Lynsey for taking the time to share the inner workings of her practice with us. You can find all her work online here.