The student-generated news site of Mount Saint Joseph Academy

The Campanile

The student-generated news site of Mount Saint Joseph Academy

The Campanile

The student-generated news site of Mount Saint Joseph Academy

The Campanile

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Rising Artist: Kelly McDonald

A remarkable person and novel creative force
Kelly McDonald Self Portrait

 There are some incredible artists roaming the halls of the Mount, from visual artists to songwriters, poets, and beyond. Sophomore Kelly McDonald ‘26 is no exception. An artist whose talents range from visual art to poetry and storytelling, McDonald ‘26 flawlessly documents everything that inspires her. Not only is she an exceptional artist, but a presence who brings laughter and light to every classroom. There truly is no one like Kelly McDonald. 

McDonald ‘26 attended Mater Dei Catholic grade school, and had been creating art ever since she had watched her dad draw a piece of toast on a napkin when she was just a little girl. Even as a very young artist, McDonald took every opportunity she could to improve her technique.

“There are videos of me drawing with my grandpa. I like to draw everything. People, animals, basically everything,” McDonald ‘26 says, finding inspiration in everything she sees. Her creative roots certainly go very deep. 

With a unique style, McDonald ‘26 exhibits a bold mark making technique, and yet portrays something very raw in her artwork. With one glance at McDonald’s pieces, one can envision a story, or feel the emotion conveyed in the piece. This is something most artists can only hope to achieve, yet McDonald ‘26 has mastered it at only sixteen years old. Her works aim to hit a string in us that we do not even know we have, making us feel things that no words can describe.

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Elizabeth Hamilton, one of the Mount’s fine arts teachers, revealed the backbone of McDonald’s art style, “Kelly has been really good at personalizing the assignment to fit her art style, typically a complex composition with a lot of really realistic shading. I feel like she goes for realism but also a sense of drama and most of her compositions have a sense of drama in them.”

McDonald’s first ever piece that was sold.

Experimenting has played a major role in the evolution of McDonald’s work. She has learned what is important to her in the piece, as well as finding a love for pastels and clay. “I usually like to have a lot of inter details. I like for there to be a good outline, like the subject. I’m now getting into more colors and especially now emphasizing the color in skin.”

Feeling very drawn towards women and flowers, McDonald ‘26 often depicts subjects such as this in her art. McDonald also finds inspiration on Pinterest, focusing on expression for practice. She empathizes body movement and exaggeration in her work, as McDonald ‘26 never misses a detail in her pieces, “I’m very much a deep diver. When I’m interested in something, I will be interested in it forever. I’m very artistic, I’m a very hands-on person.” 

In addition to her talent, McDonald ‘26 is also a very hard worker. She works tirelessly to improve her skills, setting her apart from many other talented individuals. 

“Kelly is one of my most diligent students because when she has a task given to her, she seems very excited to independently problem-solve the challenge of the design.  What’s been impressive with Kelly is that she keeps building that in class but also on her own,” says Elizabeth Hamilton, highlighting McDonald’s diligence in her work. 

McDonald ‘26 also writes poetry in addition to her visual art. She has always felt very drawn towards the stars, “I definitely think about the stars a lot. When you’re lonely, especially when you’re a little kid, and you go outside in your backyard and you look up space, it’s like there are a million little worlds and you can place them, and you can chart them.”

McDonald ‘26 avers that poetry has been extremely grounding for her, especially when she is floating off into space. Art has often been something she can always count on to bring her back to earth. She says, “we create art to put what we see in the world onto paper or into words. How we perceive things into something that we create.”

Art by Kelly McDonald

Not only is McDonald ‘26 a groundbreaking artist, but a person who always brings laughter and light everywhere she goes. “I would describe Kelly as a very creative, kind, funny and loving person. She’s definitely very smart and very resourceful and can make anyone laugh very easily,” says Kate Kenary ‘26.

She is an artist who not only brings joy in her work, but to the classroom as well: “Kelly is a hardworking artist with a mind beyond creativity. She is able to capture scenes perfectly, and seeing her work blossom during class as she’s casually talking and joking has always shown me how amazing of an artist she is,” says Olivia Roman ‘26.

McDonald ‘26 is also a co-founder of the Mount Poet Society, a dedicated student athlete on the Mount’s swim team, and a member of National Art Honors Society. McDonald ‘26 certainly has a bright future ahead of her. “She has a lot of passion and I just hope that’s being fostered here, because technically we can help anyone get better, but what’s so rewarding to see as an educator is commitment and passion for a subject, and Kelly certainly has those qualities,” says Elizabeth Hamilton. 

McDonald ‘26 reminds us that “art is whatever you want it to be. Art is words, art is sound you hear, art is the sky. It can be visual, physical, the senses, whatever you want.” McDonald ‘26  lives this out in every art piece she creates, putting everything she has into her art, documenting the beauty she finds in the world. The Mount is incredibly lucky to not only have Kelly McDonald as an artist, but as a person. Her art is truly beautiful, and will certainly take her far. As McDonald ‘26 says: “We create art to put what we see in the world onto paper or into words. How we perceive things into something that we create.”


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About the Contributor
Violet Binczewski, Features Editor

Violet Binczewski is a sophomore at the Mount and is so excited to be a part of the Campanile for a second year. She is a published author, with her book “The Ocean and her Shadows” published by Pegasus Publishers. She is a co-founder of the Mount Poet Society, and is one of the co-hosts of Magic Mic, the official podcast of the Campanile.

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  • R

    Rita KeneficFeb 12, 2024 at 9:45 am

    Hi, Kelly. This is Rita Kenefic, “Uncle Matt’s” mom. I’ve known your Grandmom and Dad for decades and was delighted to read this article. You are an amazing artist! Your work has a vitality and realism, as well as beauty. Continue to share your gifts with the world and best of luck as you pursue your goals. Love, Rita

  • K

    Kelly McDonaldDec 19, 2023 at 11:00 am

    Violet, This is so beautiful. Violet is such a talented author, and I am so so honored. Thank you and everyone who said all these wonderful things about me. I hope I can make you all proud!