Russian Fantasy is typical of the fully realized automatic watercolour paintings that Macdonald created between 1945 and 1952. Through an intensive learning experience, closely guided by his mentors—British Surrealist artist and psychiatrist Grace Pailthorpe (1883–1971) and her colleague, artist-poet Reuben Mednikoff (1906–1972)—Macdonald learned how to free his mind, drawing on the subconscious in the process of creation.
In this watercolour, the effect of space is no longer determined by a consciously imposed structure. Overlapping wet washes and gradations of colour create an exquisite richness: the painted surface breathes. Once the painting was completed, his mentors encouraged him to find and extrapolate imagery that lay hidden in the work.