Artist Spotlight: McDonald finds talent after retirement

ULM Hawkeye

Kay McDonald doesn’t think of herself as a “real artist,” but her paintings prove her wrong.

“I feel funny about calling myself an artist, but I like it,” said Kay.

Kay, who primarily uses acrylics, paints landscapes, portraits, abstracts and whatever else her art group challenges her with. She’s even helped complete abstract sculptures.

She’s sold several pieces, she’s got a studio and she’s got talent.

It’s just all very new to her.

For almost 40 years, Kay worked as a dental hygienist. While working part-time, she also helped her husband, Charles McDonald, with his work at ULM.

McDonald served 34 years as the Dean of Student Affairs, a role that now boasts the title of vice president. While there, he and Kay were heavily involved.

They were busy nearly every weekend doing something for the university. Today, fourteen years after her husband’s retirement, Kay still boasts the same university spirit.

“As the old saying goes, if you cut me I’m going to bleed maroon and gold,” said Kay, smiling.

In 2013, 11 years after her husband, Kay retired too.

Not used to being bored, she looked for something to do.

The Monroe Senior Center is where she gave painting a try.

She found out she liked it and she also found that she had a talent for it.

One of Kay’s first paintings is a portrait of her great nephew. It’s has details, shading and looks exactly like he does. She didn’t expect that.

“I didn’t just surprise myself, I shocked myself,” said Kay.

For Kay, finding so much talent after retirement has provided her with something to leave behind. Kay and her husband have no children, but now she has something to live on in.

“Charlie’s going to live on at the school, to an extent, but this is sort of my legacy, in some respects. It’s a way for something to go on when I’m gone,” said Kay.

Although she’s still getting used to all this talent, Kay is adjusting quickly. She’s even begun thinking of herself as an artist, sometimes.

“I’ve never really fit into any other particular group, but when you put artist, that’s where I seem to fit,” said Kay.

Now, Kay is 68 years old, but you can’t tell by looking at

her. Especially not in her studio. She glows next to her work.

       After discovering her hidden talent, Kay started attending workshops at the Ouachita River Art Guild.

She joined the Upstairs Gallery on Antique Alley, and she regularly completes assignments within her art group.

She encourages others to get involved in Northeast Louisiana’s art scene too, because you never know what you might be good at.