Friday, September 29, 2017

"Paintings, Now & Before: Figures, Flowers, Landscapes" and an Introduction to Jill Mackie

"August in the Park" -- Oil on Canvas
This month we've been sharing quite a few shows featuring artists painting and drawing in more traditional and representational styles. In keeping with this theme I asked Jill Mackie if she could talk about her work as an artist and her upcoming show at the Alliance Gallery in Narrowsburg, New York titled “Paintings, Now & Before: Figures, Flowers, Landscapes.”

Before writing about the burgeoning Twin Ports arts scene I was interviewing artists whom I "met" through social media and the Internet. Jill Mackie falls into this latter category of acquaintances. After the interview you can read details about her upcoming show, the opening of which is next Saturday, October 6. My only regret is that I can't be there.

EN: How did you come to take up art as a vocation?

Jill Mackie: Becoming an artist came first; that was the main goal. Selling was always desirable, but first one needs to make art that satisfies certain standards of quality and personal integrity. I think now that if you want to "make it" in the art world, making it has to be your main goal.

EN: Who have been your biggest influences?

"Marian K" 16"x 14" Oil on Canvas
JM: The earliest influences and certainly big ones were "The Red Shoes," for its colour and the power of its story. It was the world of art and life and I was stunned. I saw it on the big screen when I was eight years old. I went to museums as a child, mostly the Detroit Institute of Arts, and was in love with being in that space, the light and the marble, and especially the medieval section and the room where the huge Diego Rivera was. I watched my parents looking at paintings, which I was too short to really see, and I remember wondering what they were looking at so intently and I started looking, too, to see what was so interesting. So I grew up loving museums and looking at art and it was all about beauty.

EN: What attracted you to portraiture?

JM: After studying art history in college, I found that the paintings I loved best were those of the Northern and Italian Renaissance. Jan Van Eyck is still one of my giants, as is Giovanni Bellini, Leonardo da Vinci. And most of all I loved their figures in the landscape and their portraits. Look at van Eyck's self portrait at the National Gallery in London and his " Adoration of the Lamb," Leonardo's Ginevra in Washington, and his "Annunciation," in Florence, Bellini's Doge and his Baptism. These are my favorite subjects, still, for my own work. For commissioned portraits, and for my own paintings, I most often include a landscape background, usually something that has to do with the clients life, environment.

"Henry Laufer" -- 28.5"x 23.5" Oil on Canvas
Portraiture appeals to me because of the simplicity and beauty and character of the human being. It never fails me that in drawing and painting a portrait, the person begins to glow from the soul as we work.

EN: What was the impetus behind your current show?

JM: The impetus behind my current show was to share with my friends and neighbors who I am and what I care deeply about and do.

EN: What have been the biggest lessons you've learned from your life as an artist?

JM: Perhaps the biggest lesson I learned from being an artist is that life is very beautiful and profound and it is this that I try to paint as best I can.

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“Paintings, Now & Before:
Figures, Flowers, Landscapes” by Jill Mackie
at Alliance Gallery

October 6 – 28, 2017
Opening reception from 7 – 9 pm on Friday, October 6, 2017
Alliance Gallery, Delaware Arts Center, 37 Main St, Narrowsburg, NY
This is a Free Event

"Blue Ice" 
“I use oil paint, a traditional medium, to represent the subject realistically in a traditional manner,” says Mackie. “I paint layer on layer and the painting grows and changes as I go along enhancing or subduing a color, making a sky lighter or darker, removing a tree or a wrinkle, and so on. It seems to me, like words in a poem, the elements of a painting need to be moved around, changed, or got rid of completely. The goal is to make it better.”

Mackie, a non-representational painter at the time, was chosen by the Whitney Museum of American Art to participate in the independent study program in New York City. During her time there, she immersed herself in the art world of museums, galleries, seminars, and lectures; she realized what mattered most to her was representational art.

“The subject of my work, simply put, is how I feel about life, nature and art,” says Mackie. “Something will attract my attention, a person, a place, that, perhaps because of some change in light, shows itself to me in a new way.”

"James and Mary"  27"x 36.5"  Oil on Canvas
One of Mackie’s self-portraits was purchased by the curator of the Smithsonian Institution’s Castle and shown in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. “It was great to walk through the museum and have people recognize me,” Mackie recalls. Pictures of the painting appeared on the cover of the Washington Review, as well as in the Smithsonian Magazine, and The Washington Post. Later, because of another painting, Mackie was invited to a cocktail party at President Clinton’s office in Harlem, where she met the President.

She has been in group shows at Bernarducci-Meisel Gallery, The Allan Stone Gallery, Tamanaga Gallery, The Catherine Lorillard Wolfe Club, all in New York City. In addition, she's shown at The General Electric Gallery in Fairfield, CT; Bennett Galleries in Knoxville, TN; and Portals Gallery in Chicago, IL.

Originally from Detroit, Mackie received her Bachelor of Philosophy and Master of Arts in painting from Wayne State University. She lived and maintained a studio in New York for ten years, after which she moved to Narrowsburg, NY with her husband, painter Frank Holmes. Loving her environment, she paints landscapes, portraits, figures, and flowers.

Alliance Gallery is located at the Delaware Arts Center at 37 Main Street, Narrowsburg, NY, and is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm.

For more information, visit 

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Tamara said...

Wonderful article about an amazing artist!
Does she have a web site or an email through which I may send her a note?
Thank you,

Ed Newman said...

You may send her and email here: jillmac123 AT yahoo DOT com

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