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My parents were extremely immature and always in financial disaster. Neither could see passed their own problems to see the talent other’s saw. Their vivid future for me came in a verbal slogan titled “never amount to anything”. It became the sign and slogan over my head until I moved out. I was told, “You’ll be back!” I think I was more surprised than them I would never return.
The Impact Of Teachers
My Junior High School Art Teacher was amazing. Ms. Marshal helped me where my parents did not and could not. She saw something burning inside me, a passionate side she helped release onto canvas. Extending herself even more – she convinced me to enter a Tri-State (Pennsylvania/New Jersey/New York) art contest with a copper tooling piece I had just finished of “the little drummer boy standing over baby Jesus in a manger”. My parents, as usual, did not attend.
When I saw the blue ribbon on my piece I was in disbelief and confused. My teachers actually picked me up off the ground and hugged me. I remember this was extremely uncomfortable because so little encouragement and acts of graceousness were displayed in my homelife. Ms. Marshal was pivotal in helping me line-up scholarships from NYC. After my Grandmother and my Aunt Terry, Ms Marshall was the first major “block and mortar” foundation of loving strength in my corner.
My High School Art Teacher and I didn’t see eye-to-eye. She undid everything that Ms. Marshall did… she even failed me. This closed to doors for scholarships waiting for me. The door slamming shut was as pivotal as it was when it opened. I once again became introverted, hurt, and angry.
Identity In Music
Once my golden ticket, in the form of a scholarship, was torn up in front of me and my future expectations, I lost my only identity and made a mad dash to the other side… music. I joined a Rock Band even though I couldn’t play a thing on anything. I was only in this band because I was the only one that owned a detached garage where we could be as loud as we wanted. Or should I say “As they wanted”? Patiently, from a corner in the garage, I watched these mediocre players and learned the “in and outs” of “how to” and “how not to”.
Within a year I taught myself how to play bass guitar rather well. Within two years I was making money playing in other bands. Within three I formed my own band, became the lead singer, released my first written songs as recordings, and landed number one songs on college radio stations up and down the east coast.
The music business was a crazy emotion roller coaster but lead me back to my art in ways I never saw coming. Again, growth came within the Arts.
Another pivotal human being that gave me more attention than ever expected was Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick. We met in 1978. Back then, off and on, I was painting traditionally with a paintbrush on canvas. His band’s Beatle-like influence caught my attention with a song called “On Top Of The World”.
Now being a semi-successful working musician I just HAD to meet him. My friends asked me, “Why the crazy guy and not the lead singer?” I explained simply, “He’s the writer!“ So I painted his portrait and some how got backstage. Not long after, someone handed me an airbrush and my life changed.
I became emotionally engraved within its capabilities. It seemed the tool I had been waiting my entire Art-Life for… and it proved me right a the two of us formed a bond that was fused together forever. What my High School Art Teacher stole from me… the Airbrush gave back.
Rick noticed my artwork’s progression and was soon bragging to HIS world of people. He encouraged my art and started me on an upward progression back to the Artworld. It was Rick that bragged to the Steven Tylers of the music business about me. Later, Rick helping me land a gig painting guitars for Hamer and creating designs for Warner Brothers, Garth Brooks, Van Halen, and others.
By 1991 I was feeling comfortable with my airbrush and entered an art contest at a Beatles Convention in my home state of New Jersey. I also played music at that festival. I won first place in the art contest and received my second blue ribbon of life. I was asked to attend many Beatles festivals after that.
A Life Of Art And Music
As time marched forward Art and Music engraved my life. Soon I was painting custom signage for places like Trump Plaza and Caesar’s in Atlantic City and Las Vegas. I soon became number two at designing signage in the casino industry.
As I mastered painting backwards on the back of large pieces of plexiglass, something no one seemed to be able to do but me, I became to the “go-to” for high end illuminated illustration. Something so confusing to other artists became my “solving the Rubik’s Cube” of the Art Industry.
As fate would have it, in 1994, I was on my way to another, one of the many, Beatles Conventions I had under my belt. A failed transmission halted me from going another 2-hours to my destination. I surrendered to the incapabilities of the day. Within deep thought and finalization, I decided, “I had to be there!” So I rented a vehicle, moved my gear from one van to another and was back on the road, a day late.
At that show I met Cynthia Powell Lennon, May Pang, Mark Benson of 1964 -The Tribute (Beatles Band), and most significant… Bill Heckle of The Cavern Club in Liverpool. Bill was as he called it “gobsmacked” with my work and promised to be in touch. He explained, in not so much detail, I was now a “key element” to an ongoing project that had been clouded from the sun rising on the horizons of the Beatles’ world. He said goodbye… and left me with that statement to ponder.
Becoming A Postage Stamp Designer
Through another Beatles fan, Lonny Ostrow, in 1996 I landed a deal as a postage stamp designer in New York City. My first project… James Dean. It was so successful I was asked to paint another. This time I had carte blanche’ and was told I could “choose” my next subject. I had been to a California Beatles Convention and met Jaqueline Stallone. So I called her to ask if her son would be interested.
My answer came quickly and I found myself painting five postage stamps depicting ROCKY movies on each. We unveiled them at Planet Hollywood in NYC and it became another stair to the escalator of my life. Soon I moved to Los Angeles under advice from Sylvester Stallone himself. There he would help with a couple projects but it was his mom, Jackie, that would become my best friend and “introductory door opener” to old Hollywood precious gems like Milton Berle, Red Buttons, Harry Morgan, and Phyllis Diller.
The Worlds Greats Beatles Artist
In 1997, at 4AM, a phone call I had once anticipated but long forgotten, would wake me with a Scouser’s voice from the other side of the world. It was Bill Heckle. His message soon had me flying my first international flight to the UK. Before I knew it I was walking the ground where The Beatle had walked and grown as boys to becoming “the gods of pop music” they are today.
I met Bill for the second time and was soon put into a cab and on my way to meet the Lord Mayor of Liverpool (a “true to life” person I thought was a character in the Yellow Submarine film). Influenced by Mr. Heckle, the Lord Mayor bestowed upon me the title, The Worlds Greatest Beatles Artist. As if that wasn’t enough, when I returned to Bill’s office, Bill discussed (finally) why he had me brought to Liverpool and what his project consisted of. I was asked to paint over 100 paintings for the now prestigious hotel, The Hard Day’s Night Hotel. The hotel came to fruition and opened its doors in 2008.
Attention For My Art
Since then my artwork has been televised on Good Morning America, Rosie O’Donnell, The Tonight Show, Larry King, and many documentaries. Countless magazines have written about me and radio/video interviews have stolen many positive hours in a day. They all speak of my endeavors and the obstacles I am still heavily engaged in… art and music. Both have changed my life for the better with the assistance of just a handful of positive people that helped changed my life. With all the bad came so much good.
With chosen opportunities came a lifetime of rewards. I chased the dragon like a drug addict chases the pipe… only my addiction reigns beneath an umbrella of The Arts.
My life has not been easy and has taken me in many directions. These directions were never written out for me. They were trivialized and painfully questioned over and over before syncing into the GPS of my mind. I am sure some directions may have taken me higher – some stagnant- some down a few pegs. Either way, I ran, not walked, to every “by chance” thrown in my path… never skipping over or taking the easy way out.
Remove Yourself From Negativity
The only true obstacle I have seen in my life are negative people. You must remove yourself from their battle field. In hindsight… when positive people help you – you must respect them forever and remember why they are/were there in your “existence”. The gift of art I have been given has been a gateway to so many things; good and bad. They are all experiences in my life’s final makeup.
Where I go from here is a mystery. Where I have been is an easy eye-shot into my “rear view mirror” that I check and adjust occasionally whenever the road ahead seems a bit foggy and challenging.
Find More From Shannon Macdonald:
Art Website: www.ArtistShannon.com
Music Website: www.reverbnation.com/ShannonMacDonald
Hard Day’s Night Hotel Gallery: www.theharddaysnighthotel.com
Shannon’s Studio: 310.739.4930
BILL WYLAND GALLERIES
828 Front St
Lahaina, Maui, HI 96761
Shannon’s artwork can also be seen at The Cavern Club, The Hard Day’s Night Hotel, Liverpool Beatles Museum, Sefton Park Hotel, and Strawberry Fields in Liverpool, England.
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