Inspired by everything from the light-filled horizons of her childhood in West Texas to her times spent walking riverside in Paris, artist McKenzie Dove brings rich, textural beauty to all her paintings. Often working with subdued whites and cream colors, her pieces are subtle but sharp, incorporating thickly applied layers of paint in the style of Expressionist masters. They aim to be flexible enough to be placed in any type of room while still inviting viewers to examine them at every angle.
We spoke with McKenzie about her unique style of painting as well as her roots as an artist. See what she had to say below, and be sure to shop her latest collection of pieces, now available on Chairish.
On Her Art…
You’re a self-taught artist. Can you tell us about your journey and how you became an artist?
I’ve been creative for as long as I can remember. I waited tables in Highland Park, Texas, when I was 18, and my regulars shopped my art in a coffee shop nearby. Eventually, I started making more selling art than being a waitress so becoming a professional artist just organically happened.
Tell us about the first piece you ever sold.
I did a series of women based on photographs a friend took in Mumbai during a trafficking rescue trip to raise money for their cause. An attorney in Highland Park called me to meet her at the coffee shop where I was selling my work, and I priced a 12” x 36” piece for $200. She was an avid art collector and wanted to support young artists. She gave me $1,000 and encouraged me to pursue being a professional artist. It was definitely a defining moment for me!
What are your favorite materials to work with?
Pure oil paint, plaster, and thick textured paper or canvas.
You’re known for your large oil works applied with palette knives and your layered textures. What’s the backstory behind that process?
Texture has always inspired me. Elements in nature like coral, plants, stone, and wood influence my work. I also studied Impressionist and Expressionist artists and a lot of my knife work is influenced by them. I visited the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence when I was 20 and was very inspired by the plaster mold room. Seeing Rodin’s work in person influenced my first warm white textural pieces.
How do you decide on the subjects for your art? What inspires your artwork?
I wanted to be a fashion designer when I was really young, so most of my sketchbooks from that time are portraits and figures. However, my first paintings were landscapes; we had big open skies where I grew up in West Texas, and I loved painting the horizon line. My mark making has always been very loose and quick but it was during my first European trip — where I wanted to get as much inspiration on paper as quickly as possible — that I started abstracting subjects like portraits, architectural details, and geometric shapes.
You live in Birmingham and are originally from Texas. How does that influence your current work?
As I said before, West Texas influenced my early landscapes. Living in Birmingham now definitely influences my work. We have a lot of talented architects and designers and beautiful homes, so it’s impossible not to be inspired by all of the creative talent!
Tell us about the works you’re selling on Chairish and how they came about.
My most recent series is influenced by my time spent in Paris. Walking from St. Germain along the Seine toward the Eiffel while watching the sun reflect on the river is such a special moment. My husband and I love to talk about all of the artists who have lived and worked in Paris in the past and how that affected their work. The architecture, museums, and landscape design are all so beautiful. The “Seine” series is an abstract of the river with nods to Calder, Picasso, Rodin, and other artists who inspire my work.
What do you find most compelling about Chairish?
As a designer, I’m always on the hunt for the right pieces for my clients (and for myself). The curation of one-of-a-kind pieces available through Charish makes my job easier!
Are there any dream vintage/antique “gets” you wish you could have? What’s a dream piece for you?
The octagonal table Givenchy commissioned Giacometti to do for his Château de Jonchet
What are three of your favorite pieces on Chairish now?
It’s hard to only pick three! Here are some favorites right now:
- English Regency Style Paper Mache Tray Table
- 19th Century Architectural Bronze Element
- Pair of Maitland Smith Torchiere Table Lamps
Favorite way to create a statement-making moment in a room:
I think rooms should feel collected. I like to layer but also keep things minimal and simple to allow a great piece of art or sculpture to have its own moment in the space.
Favorite iconic piece of vintage design:
Favorite paint color:
Favorite decor piece in your home:
Our 1930’s Allison London baby grand piano
Favorite artist from the past you most often turn to for inspiration:
Design destination every creative should visit at least once:
Best piece of career advice you’ve ever received:
If you love your work, others will too.
Favorite vacation destination (the next time travel becomes an option):
Favorite Instagram accounts to follow:
Favorite hostess (or thank you) gift:
Mad et Len Spirituelle candle or a nice bottle of wine
Favorite style icon:
Victoria Beckham and anything from The Row
Lead image courtesy of McKenzie Dove