Small me1Elizabeth is an “Extreme Plein Air Painter.” She paints outside in all types of weather year round.  She believes there is no bad weather, only bad clothing.  She was inspired to paint plein air by the Canadian Group of Seven.  Plein air painting unites her lifelong love of nature with her love to create.  She hopes that bringing attention to her subjects will help to preserve our woodlands, historic buildings, and rural areas.

Born in Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan, she grew up in Southeast Detroit.  Her father (and muse) was a lifelong scout leader, avid outdoors man, draftsman, and artist.  From her earliest memories summers were filled with camping on a lake in north eastern Ontario.  This secluded woodland lake brought out her love of nature and the outdoors.  Her love of art was nurtured by her father’s many art projects which included drawing, painting, sculpture, and leather-work.

In the 60’s, they moved to a farm in Canada.  Living in a small rural town has it’s benefits, and drawbacks.  There were no art classes in high school.  She found an outlet for her art by joining the Drama Club, where she worked on making props for the school plays.  She carved an eight foot wooden fire place mantle in her senior year.

High school in a small town prepared her for one of two avenues: to attend college or get a job in an office.  Upon graduation, she was hired by a busy construction company to manage the office.  She was the sole administrative employee, and the position was the challenge she sought.  With no one to train her, she jumped in with both feet, and gained a great deal of confidence.  This was the beginning of her career in office administration and accounting.

Eventually, she attended the University of Windsor and studied with the CMA.  Her accounting career included the international firm KPMG.  In 1992 she left accounting to care for her ailing widowed father.  Quitting a promising career may be foolhardy in the eyes of some, but it turned out to be the push she needed to realize her dream.

Elizabeth graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Honours degree in 2000.  Afterward, she volunteered and worked part time at the Windsor Printmaker’s Forum, where she curated exhibitions, taught printmaking, life drawing, and held several positions on their Board.  In 2009, she founded the Windsor & Essex County Plein Air Artists group.  Elizabeth currently organizes events in Canada and participates in plein air events internationally.  Her work is in private and corporate collections in the U.S. and Canada.  She has won awards for her plein air paintings and photography.  She is also known for her intaglio and relief printmaking.

Recently, she’s been experimenting with a limited palette, using variations of the three primary colours and white.  Less paint means less weight, allowing her to travel farther into rugged terrain.  She will sometimes work from a plein air piece to create a large studio painting.  Rarely does she touch up her plein air work in the studio.  Elizabeth prefers to work from life rather than from photos and feels the eye can see more than the camera.  Her dream is to travel the county living and painting on the road.


Elizabeth Gaye MacDonald is a gifted artist and a leader in the creative arts community. Her plein air sessions have inspired so many to enjoy painting outdoors and her exquisite works are admired by her peers. She is a talented artist and a credit to the association of representational artists.

Susan Duxter
Artist at SuDu Art
August 4, 2011, Susan worked with Elizabeth Gaye in different groups

Elizabeth Gaye is an inspiration to many… myself included. She inspires as an artist, colleague and mentor. She is incredibly talented and a leader in the Windsor Art community in the true sense of the word. She works and shares art and artistic opportunities selflessly. It is a pleasure to know and work with her as I learn and work in Plein Air.

Nancy A. Bauer
Artist, Illustrator & Instructor at An Artist in Search of Excellence
November 30, 2013, Elizabeth Gaye worked with Nancy A. in the same group

A few years back, I came across the Plein Air Group headed by Gaye MacDonald.  Due to health issues, I only attended a few outings.  During those outings and phone dealings with her, I quickly realized that Gaye took time to welcome the new painters, made time for any questions you had and shared her wealth of techniques.  She made everyone feel that they were on equal basis insofar as the art world.    Gaye also demonstrated her true colours in that she was consistently at every location during the cold and/or warm months.  The only thing that kept her away was a storm of some kind.  She also seemed to have a good relationship with all the attendees.  She is an invaluable coach.

Just a month or so ago, I remembered what a great guide/coach Gaye was I called to her ask if she knew of anyone that could come to my home and start me off with an acrylic painting.  Also I asked her if someone could advise me  what was needed for a home style studio.  She was quick to respond by saying that she would love to do it.  Needless to say I was thrilled.   Gaye asked me to send her the picture of what I wished to paint.  When she received it, she started with the initial steps of creating a grid system.  I found her to be very responsive, methodical, practical, organized, calm and has a very pleasant demeanor.  Before the session was over, she ensured that she gave me some homework.  She is very disciplined and, I think, that’s one attribute all artists should have.  She also made recommendations such as, the need for a new easel, where I could get certain products, etc.  She is a wealth of knowledge and she actually enjoys sharing it with others.  I would highly recommend her as an art instructor.  It is obvious from her art projects that she is an outstanding artist.

Louise Scaini-Jojic
February 12, 2017