By Janet Taber
Reprinted with permission of the Ozark County Times
The Ozark County Historium is pleased to host artist Debora McGee on Aug. 23 as this month’s Fourth Friday event. Attendees will be treated to a demonstration of the artist’s three-step process of turning a photograph into a fine oil painting, as well as an exhibit of several of her unique works of art. Whether you’re an aspiring artist or just have an appreciation of fine art, the event promises to be a real treat.
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then prolific French artist William-Adolphe Bougue-reau (1825-1905) would feel honored to visit McGee’s rural Douglas County studio. It’s a bit like walking into a museum, with walls covered floor to ceiling with lovely paintings, many of which are high-quality copies of Bougeuereau’s most popular works.
“That’s how I really got started painting,” McGee noted. “I always liked to draw and sketch and paint a bit. When I turned 50, it seemed like the time to get serious about art. One day when I was in Hobby Lobby in Springfield I saw a notice that Karen Straight taught Old Masters classes there on Wednesdays. I signed up for her class and took lessons throughout that year, and I’ve been painting ever since.”
Seven years after her inspired start, McGee has moved beyond what she learned in her classes. These days the subjects of her paintings are more likely to be the children, grandchildren or even the pets of clients who’ve seen her impressive work. Given the local popularity of Missouri Fox Trotters, beautiful images of horses are prevalent in her body of work.
One of her favorite paintings, Fox Trotter 1, which was painted from a photograph McGee took at a local horse show, won a coveted prize last year at Silver Dollar City.
“It was an honor to even have my work chosen to be in the Made in Missouri exhibit during the Harvest Festival in 2012,” McGee explained. “And to win second place in the 2D category was beyond my imagination.”
McGee also has competed successfully in the local Ava Art Guild’s shows, and she is a juried member of Best of Missouri Hands, a statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to the development and recognition of Missouri artists and artisans.
When she visits the Historium next week, McGee will show a few of her works in progress. She will explain how she makes an initial drawing then makes a transfer to the canvas and finally proceeds with the painting. It will be a sort of condensed lesson, to perhaps inspire others to try their own hand at painting.
“I also give private lessons in my studio,” McGee continued, “and I’m quite busy with commissioned works.”
One of McGee’s favorite pieces is a painting she created of her father-in-law, the late Glen McGee, who owned the Almartha Saddle Shop for many years. He started his business in the old store building at Almartha and later moved it to a location on Highway 5 north of Ava, on property adjoining where McGee and her husband, Roy, now live. The painting is a reminder of a time when men like Glen worked with their hands. Many of McGee’s paintings feature rural scenes of cattle, horses and barns, all likely to appeal to anyone with rural roots.
The Historium’s Fourth Friday events are free and open to the public; everyone is invited to attend. Debora McGee will be painting and talking about her work from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and the setting is casual and comfortable, with a “come and go” format. For more information contact Janet Taber at 417-265-3372 or email@example.com. The phone number at the Ozark County Historium is 417-679-2400.
Visit http://www.bestofmissouri hands.org/artisans/painting-drawing/deboramcgee for more information on Best of Missouri Hands and to see more examples of McGee’s work.
By Janet Taber