In this episode, I welcome Lantz McDonald! Lantz has dabbled in many different forms of art over the years, and shares about how art has been a constant in his life, regardless of the ups and downs. He discusses how abstract art, in particular, has spoken to him, and how one art form can inspire another. (Fun fact: the cover image for this episode is a photo of Lantz, taken by him!)

 

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Episode 23 - Lantz McDonald

Lindsey Dinneen: Hello, and welcome to Artfully Told, where we share true stories about meaningful encounters with art.

[00:00:08] Krista: Artists help people have different perspectives on every aspect of life.

[00:00:13] Roman: All I can do is put my part out into the world.

[00:00:16] Elizabeth: It doesn't have to be perfect the first time. It doesn't have to be perfect ever really. I mean, as long as you, and you're enjoying doing it and you're trying your best, that can be good enough.

[00:00:24] Elna: Art is something that you can experience with your senses and that you just experience as so beautiful.

[00:00:32] Lindsey Dinneen: Hello, and welcome back to Artfully Told. I'm your host, Lindsey, and I am so excited to have on my podcast today, my friend, Lantz McDonald. Lantz and I actually met through my husband. And gosh, now it's been probably--what--like six years, I think?

[00:00:53] Lantz McDonald: Yeah, somewhere around there.

[00:00:54] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah, absolutely. And so Lantz  has his day job. And then he also has this fantastic, creative side to him too that comes out in all sorts of different artwork, and I am just so excited to have him on the show specifically, because I think that his particular take on art is really unique and special and his artwork is really cool. And so thank you so much, Lantz, for being here today.

[00:01:25] Lantz McDonald: Yeah. Thank you. That was, that was a really nice compliment. Thank you. Yeah, it's kinda surreal to be here. Thanks for having me on.

[00:01:33] Lindsey Dinneen: Of course, of course. Well, I'd love to hear a little bit about kind of what started your dabbling, so to speak, in art. 'Cause I know you've kind of done a little bit of a variety. So what kind of prompted you?

[00:01:47]Lantz McDonald: I mean really, I just think it's, it kind of built into my core maybe.  I have had a really interesting relationship with art as a whole since I was a child that it's kind of been this, like this, for lack of a better term, like a best friend, that's just kind of been around when I, I need it. And, it's been kind of a rollercoaster of relationship too. I guess just to start, so just to, to give a premise for my experiences since childhood-- so, just a couple of years ago, I was diagnosed with autism. And, I didn't know, I'm 33 now. I didn't know for, you know, 30 plus years, that I was on the spectrum. And so as a child, I didn't really like music.  I didn't really see the point in it. And I'm talking like, I dunno, like five, six plus years old.  And, it had partially, it was partially to do with, you know, how what home I was raised in and the ideas around that. And, eventually, I kind of branched out and discovered that there was, you know, music outside of the small bubble, and really fell in love with it. And I wouldn't say that it was like the start of my creative side coming out, but it was definitely an important part.

[00:03:02] And, I guess from there I started drawing, took a bunch of different music classes over the years, nothing stuck. I'm terrible at instruments, just the worst. I did eventually learn to play drums and, after trying piano, violin, clarinet, guitar, bass, the triangle, probably--I don't know-- the drums actually clicked with me. And I played that for a few years, nothing serious or anything. And, for your listeners, I'm sure it'll be quite the pattern, but I just kind of dabbled in it. And, from there I, did some canvas painting for a couple years. I did some sculpting, I guess, a few years before that. I think as I'm learning about myself over my lifetime, I just like to accumulate skills and learn different things, as broad of a statement as that is. I just want to, you know, experience everything and art is a huge part of life. It's in so many different facets that I don't feel like most people even realize. So yeah, it's with me and art has been kind of an up and down thing, and I dive real hard when I dive, and sometimes I get back out of the water for a bit, but I'll be sure to dive in with something else again, too.

[00:04:28] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah, absolutely. Well, and thank you for sharing your story. I think that, yeah, it's so cool to hear how art can-- I actually love the way you put it-- it can be your best friend that comes along through life's ups and downs. And the great thing about art is that, I mean, you might judge it, but it doesn't judge you back.

[00:04:51] Lantz McDonald: Yes, exactly.

[00:04:53] Lindsey Dinneen: You know? And so just having that outlet for what you're feeling and what you're going through is awesome.

[00:04:59] Lantz McDonald: Absolutely.

[00:05:01] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah. I like it. Yeah. So at this point, so you mentioned music, and you've done painting, and you've done sculpture and things like that. Is there one of them that you feel was the best creative outlet, or do you feel like--like you've said you dabbled in so many, so is it sort of like what's needed in the moment?

[00:05:24] Lantz McDonald: That's a really good question. I think it's a yes to both. I think for your first question, I think the one that's maybe touched me the most was my drum kits. But the problem with that is when you're growing up in apartments, it's not exactly conducive to having happy neighbors. So,  I do plan to eventually play drums again. I'm just kinda in the mix of some different stuff right now. It seems like I always am. But, but to your second question. Yeah, absolutely. You know, I, life has a lot of ups and downs and there's definitely room for art in those ups and downs, but I guess for me more so, it's art has really made a connection with me and I've really tried to discover my creative side and the limits of that. And, and the sadder times, or the more angry times or, you know--a friend of mine who works with children told me there's no such thing as good and bad feelings. There's only comfortable feelings and uncomfortable feelings. So I guess in that context, I come to art almost as a reflex, I guess when the uncomfortable feelings come up.

[00:06:42]Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah. I love that. That's such a great way to think about it because it removes the judgment from it. It's simply, it is comfortable or it isn't comfortable. And yeah, that gives you a lot more permission to explore that without a judgment.

[00:06:59] Lantz McDonald: Exactly. It gives you freedom. And that, I mean, what isn't in relation to art than freedom?

[00:07:06] Lindsey Dinneen: Right. Exactly. Awesome. Well, as far as your paintings go, I personally have gotten to see some and I think they're really cool, but is there any sort of theme that kind of has run through? 'Cause I remember there were a few that seemed like they were connected, you know, different artworks, but kind of maybe within the same general theme or landscape per se or whatever. Do you tend to work in like sets or is it just whatever strikes you?

[00:07:37] Lantz McDonald: It's definitely whatever strikes me. I have a hard leaning towards the abstracts with canvas painting. I guess I haven't practiced that much in a long time at realistic artwork in that regard. But, I do like the abstract, just because more of the, like, being able to, have somebody feel something. I think it's a lot easier to have that happen with something that is more abstract rather than something that is more focused and trying to tell you something specific. I think the more you're able to read into it yourself and make your own ideas about it and draw your own conclusions and feel your own feelings towards it. I think it allows people to have either a more enjoyable experience with art or, have a more meaningful experience with art.

[00:08:30] Lindsey Dinneen: Sure. Well, and we'll circle back to that because that, as you know, as a podcast listener, ties into one of my questions at the end. But, so when you go and experience art, do you particularly prefer to experience it for yourself without a whole lot of context? Do you like more abstract art personally?

[00:08:51] Lantz McDonald: I think visually I do prefer the abstracts, but outside of that, I don't really have a preference. I think it's definitely dependent on mood, and a million other factors for me personally. But, I think whatever someone's trying to say, whether they're letting you in with some notes or not, whether, you know, the title of the painting or if it's abstract or not. I think that's for the artist to decide. So I think I prefer just visually the feeling I get from looking at abstract art, but you can have just as much of a connection with something that, it tells you exactly what's going on.

[00:09:34] Lindsey Dinneen: Sure. Yeah, that makes complete sense. So are there any stories that stand out to you as far as having--either your own experience with creating art or seeing somebody else's art--that particularly stand out in your memory as being just something to hold on to?

[00:09:54]Lantz McDonald: Yeah. I guess with canvas painting again-- so just a bit of context, and to come back to what we were talking about earlier-- so I grew up in a very conservative home and we went to essentially a megachurch on a regular basis. And my dad was Minister of Music. My brother was very musically inclined. My mom sang in the choir. So, to comment on my complicated relationship with music, at the time I had no idea that there was other kinds of music. Like the radio existed, but it wasn't something that we turned on very often. And, so I just kind of assumed that this was a majority of what music had to provide. And even at a young age, I didn't feel like the music, and really the church as a whole, followed the same kind of beliefs that I had. So it really didn't have a huge impact on me. But then, you know, after discovering, you know, there's more out there, there's more of the world, I fell in love with music. And to tie that into my canvas painting, I had just decided one day that I just wanted to start. Like, I have friends who, painted and I had seen plenty of art throughout my life and, and I just kind of came to the conclusion that maybe I can try this. And, so I did. And, it didn't go well, from my perspective. I drew just a bunch of nonsense and painted just random shapes. And I was just kinda, I guess, trying to figure out what I did know myself and what I could do myself from a jumping off point.

[00:11:36]But, what really got me to open up, and at the time I was very emotionally clogged up, if you will. I had a lot of issues trying to reach my emotions, just trying to, over the years, keep them in. And yeah, the music was what kind of enabled me to start painting in the first place. 'Cause I tried a bunch of different things like meditation and nothing really seemed to let me express myself on the canvas. And, as soon as I put on some music that just kinda matched the mood that I was in, it was just like a light switch, and I just went off. And so most of my paintings are named after songs, because they are an album or an artist or a specific song that I was listening to while painting it. And it's what I feel as I'm experiencing that. So yeah, that's a really good memory for me. Just having this  growth of a relationship with music and having it affect other facets of creative expression.

[00:12:50] Lindsey Dinneen: Right. And I think that that's so interesting and so cool how one art form has inspired another one for you. And it was discovering that that kind of led to you being able to express your creativity through painting. But it was, you know, driven by another art form, which I think is really, really cool. Art begets art, you know, so to speak and...

[00:13:15] Lantz McDonald: Isn't that fantastic?

[00:13:17] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah, it's so fantastic! And I love the fact that your titles are named after those songs, and that's what inspires you. I think that's really, really cool. I love it. So, are there any pieces that you've created or painted or whatever that really stand out to you as being some of your favorites? I mean, how do you have this image of something that comes back to you where you go "I like that one. I'm really proud of that."

[00:13:43]Lantz McDonald: Yeah. And just to put it out there, I have verified with friends that it's not egotistical to hang around paintings in your house, but I did that, 'cause I just, I like them. I don't think I've painted something, from start to finish, outside of doodles and stuff that I really absolutely was just disgusted with or anything. Most of the stuff that I have hung up are pieces of mine. There is one, honestly-- at this moment, I can't remember what it's called or what I called it--but, there was one where, and I'm pretty sure you've seen it, has like a black background, and there's just these strings of different colors falling down and up on the canvas. And, at this moment, I can't remember what song it was that I listened to, but it's just, looking at it, it's it's one of my favorites. I really like contrast and that has definitely has a lot of contrast there.

[00:14:42]Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah, absolutely. And I absolutely agree if you, if you like your own artwork, you should definitely display it and be proud of it. That's fantastic.

[00:14:52] Lantz McDonald: For anybody listening, you know, if you like something just, just like it, there's no reason to take other people into consideration.

[00:15:00] Lindsey Dinneen: Right. Very true. And also the reality is I wouldn't have known that you painted if I didn't see them in your house, you know, I wouldn't have necessarily known that. And, and then I was able to ask you about it and discover a little bit more: where did that one come from? Or, or whatever. And so, yeah, it opens up good conversations, so, yes.

[00:15:25] Lantz McDonald: Yeah.

[00:15:27] Lindsey Dinneen: Excellent. So do you find yourself dabbling much these days? I know this is a very challenging time of life for probably everyone.

[00:15:39]Lantz McDonald: Everyone, of course. Not much at the moment. I don't know if you really call working on a house art, but I'm doing some more renovations right now, and taking care of my dog who's getting up there in age.  I just listened to the episode with Kent Rader. And he, he's delightful, by the way. I'm so glad you had him on the show.

[00:16:01] Lindsey Dinneen: Yes, me too.

[00:16:04]Lantz McDonald: But,  something that's always been on the back burner, I guess in my brain, has been a stand up. And I have some notes and some just random thoughts written down, and that's, that's about as far as it's gone so far, but it's definitely something I'd like to look into once we're allowed to be within a few feet of each other and compact areas.

[00:16:29] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah. That would be amazing. Oh, I definitely think that that would be--you would be very good at that. I can tell.

[00:16:38] Lantz McDonald: Thank you. I don't have a singer's voice and it's not something I've ever really worked on, but I do like the different facets of art and the fact that it can be your voice or your hands or your feet, but I want to dive into something that has to do with spoken word or voice and see what I can learn from that.

[00:17:01] Lindsey Dinneen: Well, yeah. And you mentioned earlier the fact that you are kind of a lifetime learner, you like to continue to develop your skills. And so, yeah, that's just another skillset that is really good, and I would think very difficult to develop just because it's not even just speaking, it's trying to make people laugh, which is all whole thing. It's all, it's an art form. It really is.

[00:17:27] Lantz McDonald: I do like to speak on Kent Rader again, I do like his methodical execution of it, though. I think it is something that can be maybe not scientifically quantified, but there is like an equation to it, I think. And it's something that you can continuously work on. So yeah, I will see, I'll get back to you in the future when we're all happy and healthy.

[00:17:51] Lindsey Dinneen: Perfect. I love it. Well, I do have a couple of questions I like to ask my guests if you're okay with that.

[00:17:57] Lantz McDonald: Of course.

[00:17:58] Lindsey Dinneen: Okay. So first of all, how do you personally define art or what is art to you?

[00:18:06]Lantz McDonald: To me, I tried to break it down to the simplest terms that I can, 'cause I had thought about this a little bit before we started recording. I would say it's, to me it's an ambiguous expression. And some, some pieces of art are more or less ambiguous, but at the end of the day, you were trying to relay an emotion and there's nothing unambiguous about that. Yeah, I think it's just people trying to express themselves to other people. We all want to be heard and listened to. And this is just one more way to do that.

[00:18:45] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah, absolutely. I like that. Okay. And what do you think is the most important role of an artist?

[00:18:51]Lantz McDonald:    I think honesty is probably the highest up there for me.  I think that with a lot of art that is deemed not great or not good, it often has to do with the amount of honesty being portrayed. And if your sole focus is to just make a dollar or trying to, you know, slam an idea in somebody's face, it's not going to come off as well as if you're pulling from your heart and expressing yourself with honesty. There's, there's satire and stuff like that, but at its core, it still has an honest or a truth to it. And I think quality of art is very dependent on that truth-telling. So I'd say for anyone who's wanting to be an artist or who is an artist--let's face it, we all are at some extent-- just be honest with yourself and you will absolutely make something great.

[00:19:53] Lindsey Dinneen: Yes, indeed you will. Okay. And then my final question is, do you think that art should be inclusive or exclusive. And it does sort of tie into something we were talking about earlier, but inclusive referring to somebody who creates their art and provides a little bit of context, whether that's a title or story or some background...

[00:20:17] Lantz McDonald: Yeah.

[00:20:18] Lindsey Dinneen: Versus exclusive referring to someone creating the artwork and just letting the viewer or the participant or whatever take from it, what they will. So they don't necessarily provide any context.

[00:20:30] Lantz McDonald: Yeah. I would say it is an even split for me, down the middle. I think choosing, 'cause it is a choice, it, that is a spectrum in and of itself. You still have to choose where on that spectrum you land as far as, you know, letting people in on what's going on or not. I think that is an important piece to the art itself to like choosing whether to give the whole story or even a part of it is part of what someone will experience when they experience your art. And,  it's really up to the artist whether they want to let you in on more or not. And that kind of informs the piece itself.

[00:21:13] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah, absolutely. Excellent. Well, thank you again so much, Lantz, for being here today. That was so much fun. Plus, you have so many great insights and I just love it. But I was wondering if there's any way for people to follow along with your journey or do you have any sort of public outlet yet? Or is it just sort of, for you right now and not necessarily for others?

[00:21:39]Lantz McDonald: I am not on social media, like not even a little bit, so I'm a little hard to find, but if I can plug one of my favorite local artists here in case. Her name is Behnaz Miremadi. I hope I'm pronouncing her last name right, but it's spelled a, B E H N A Z. And then her last name is M I R E M A D I and she is a wonderful artist. She does realism and abstract and actually I have one of her pieces hanging up right here. So you should go check her out.

[00:22:17] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah. Yes. Okay. Absolutely. We will, and we'll post a couple links to some of her work too. That's great. Well, I'm personally excited for the future for you. I'm very excited about the fact that you might do some standup comedy. I'm totally going to be there for that. But again, thank you so very much for joining us today. I really appreciate it. And I'm so glad that, yeah, that you've found, a great outlet for your art and that you're expressing it. And whether that's just for you and it's just going to continue to be for you in your house ,or whether you'll share it or whatever happens, I think it's still so valuable.  And so thank you for creating. I think that's awesome.

[00:23:01] Lantz McDonald: Thank you. And thank you for doing this podcast. I've, I've learned so much about different people I never would have met. And that's really, that's a huge part of this podcast for me. That was the part that I really enjoy is we're not just learning about these people, we're getting to know them too. I don't know, I have a lot of great names that I've been looking into and looking at other people's work and it's, it's really fantastic. So thank you for making this podcast. It's, it's wonderful.

[00:23:27] Lindsey Dinneen: Oh, of course. Yes. It's been my absolute pleasure to get to talk to so many cool people and learn about their journeys and hear their stories and yeah. I love it. All right. Well, thank you all also for listening. And if you are feeling as inspired as I am right now, I would love if you would share this episode with a friend or two and we will catch you next time.

[00:23:52] If you have a story to share with us, we would love that so much. And I hope your day has been Artfully Told.

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