Many of Macdonald’s semi-abstract works (or modalities as he called them) were very geometric compositions. Others like Chrysanthemum were more organic in nature—referencing life and growth. Macdonald’s background as a designer is revealed through the balance of shape and colour throughout the work. In the late 1930s, Macdonald’s modalities were among the most abstract paintings being produced in British Colombia. Although they were very different than most of the art being exhibited at the time, his 1941 solo exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery was very well received.