Friday, February 6, 2015

Featured artist September McGee with the Pastel Society of the West Coast!

This article just came out! beautifully written by Jan Thomas.   I painted the Maestro in oil initially and then decided to do it in a pastel.  Let me know what you think!
I love both mediums and it is often fun to create the same painting in pastel and oil!

September McGee

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September McGee
Elected Member: Allied Artists, NY
Salmagundi Club, NY
Maestro-by September McGee
Maestro II, pastel by September McGee

Talking with September McGee is a bit like being on a whirling carnival ride. She exudes all the energy one sees in her colorful, expressionistic paintings. A self-described American impressionist, her unique and readily recognizable style has developed through many years of confident exploration and experimentation and continues to evolve.  An early memory is of a painting done in the third grade. Daring to paint outside the lines, she created a painting from her imagination of a conductor leading a choir of singers for which she won her first award. This experience fueled her lifetime commitment to being innovative in her paintings.

As a young, single mother, September was unable to attend classes or workshops to develop her skills. So, true to her independent nature, she taught herself by visiting art museums and shows and analyzing the work of other artists, particularly the early French and American Impressionists. She fearlessly continued painting, always willing to try something new and challenging. Now an artist with impressive credentials, she confided that one motivation for entering shows, winning awards and applying for membership in such prestigious organizations as the Salmagundi Club and Allied Artists of America, is to challenge herself, to raise the bar.  She does not want to be a formula painter, but one whose paintings reflect her fresh, vibrant attitude.
When asked how she developed the unique linear strokes seen in both her oil and pastel paintings she says she learned early on to remind herself every day to "let go and get out of the way." "I let the energy come through me," she says. The expressive quality of her strokes evolved over time as she allowed herself to experiment and have fun. She admits it is not always easy to stay loose. When she catches herself over-thinking a painting she will step back from it, or put it aside for a while until she can approach it again intuitively. She feeds her passion for innovation in her work by trying new materials: new pastel brands, new colors, new substrates. Each change or addition creates a different result in her work, which then serves as inspiration for her next painting.

Despite her energetic, positive nature, September admits that she is emerging from a time of doubt and dissatisfaction with her work. She now recognizes this as a time of transition, causing her to stop and listen to her intuition. It was a break-though which is fueling her current creativity.

September's pastels start out as very loose underpaintings on toned paper. She uses a large brush to apply Charvin Pastel Painting Sticks, and various pastels, mixed with water to the paper, much like paint. She says this produces "something magical, a creamy, dreamy" surface on which to start layering other pastels. The substrate has to be substantial enough to take her "aggressive" application of pastel, and she prefers Art Spectrum Colourfix , Richeson and Ampersand Pastel boardsFavored pastels are Terry Ludwig, Great American, Schminke and Sennelier half sticks. Derwent and CarbOthello pastel pencils are used for finishing details. September says she starts a painting without a specific idea about what it will look like, always reminding herself to keep it loose. Always happy to help other artists and share what she knows,September invites questions about her materials, resources or processes.

She encourages other artists to define themselves in their work. "Classes and workshops are great, but it is important to find your own voice."

Always challenging herself, she says her goal this year is to do "bigger, important work." Time will tell how that desire will manifest, but it will undoubtedly be an exciting ride---for her and for her followers.

Symphony,  pastel by September McGee



"Maestro" oil on linen by September McGee