After a couple of decades of birding and painting, Margo Holst will present “Opening My Eyes,” an exhibition of recent works at the Beaumont Art League, Nov. 14-28, featuring glossy surfaces on wood panels of abstract semi-floral imagines and larger birds in a variety of settings.
Some birds invoke pastoral/primitive environments and others are candidates for “Angry Birds” game auditions proving one can give character to birds.
The paintings are acrylic often with irradiance or color shift highlights on birch wood panels covered with a high gloss glaze coat.
Holst tells how she started painting.
“One afternoon, I was sitting at Pattee and Jerry Newman’s table, eating nut cake and drinking coffee,” she said. “I was telling them about the birds I had seen on my recent birding trip. I don’t remember how the conversation turned to art but Pattee said, ‘Margo you are so artistic why don’t you go to Lamar and take come art classes from Jerry?’ So not really knowing what to expect, I started classes three weeks into the semester.”
Holst took watercolor and life drawing.
“Jerry Newman was not only a wonderful instructor, he helped me add color to my life and life drawing changed the way I looked at things,” she said. “More than one time Jerry said my life drawing model’s leg looked like a ham bone. I finally learned to get the head at the top of page and feet at bottom and the leg looking like a leg.”
Watercolor was a challenge to learn, Holst said.
“I tried painting flowers, barns, and all the other calendar subjects didn’t interest me,” she said. “I soon found the subject I wanted to paint — wildlife.
“Jerry’s wildlife painting were right down my alley, since I was an outdoor woman. That motivated me toward painting big mammals. Painting soon replaced fishing and chasing birds. Painting also brought new friends into my life.
When Newman was having a show at the Beaumont Art League, he asked Holst to help with refreshments for the event. At the opening she met DJ Kava who told her about The Art Studio’s life drawing night.
“I started attending the class and enjoying the sessions,” she said. “I joined The Studio and DJ suggested that I hang some of my mammal paintings at the membership show. So I brought in a few and hung them. When I got to the opening I noticed how different my art looked hanging next to other art and mine looked out of place. The mammals were beautiful yet hanging next to some of the other works, mine looked out of place with so many creative pieces.
“One day after class, I stopped by DJ’s house to show him a watercolor of an elk. He said he liked it, and then he said, ‘You can paint, now become an artist.’ I thought about that for a while remembering that opening.”
A few days Holst said she was watching “Six Feet Under” and a young girl was talking with her professor about the problems she was having doing an assignment.
“He told her to, ‘Open Your Eyes’ and she would become a better artist, so that is what my solo show is called — ‘Opening My Eyes’” Holst said. “This was the start of putting my watercolors away and prying my eyes open.”
Holst started working with acrylics but didn’t like the dull and flat look they had.
“I needed lessons,” she said. “Being a student of Newman’s, I had made friends with Albert Faggard. With calls and photos sent to Albert, along with cries of despair, I learned to use and make my acrylics shine. Albert became my go-to help after Jerry died. I believe I would have stopped painting without Albert as my friend. He gave me hope of becoming that artist DJ talked about.”
Faggard, Kava and Holst joined the Bolivar Culture Foundation and began booking artists to give solo shows at the gallery in Crystal Beach, where she lives. They showed 21 local artists before Hurricane Ike took the gallery away.
“After putting my home back after the storm and building a new studio, I starting playing with acrylics and having fun with my art,” she said. “With this change, I won two of the Beaumont Art League Neches River shows. Believe it or not, one of the wins was my first going “out of the box” work.
Not long after winning that show Holst met Salli Babbitt, someone that inspired her “beyond my expectations.”
“One Sunday, I opened the Galveston “Coast” magazine and there was an artist standing with a large painting that popped my eyes out. The painting’s background was exactly what I wanted to learn,” she said. “The subject was a large bird. I had been asked to do a solo show at the Beaumont Art League and I wanted to do something completely different so I called and was lucky enough to reserve a class with her. Salli and I had fun teaching me to throw, drip and get dirty painting.
“The paint covered walls of my studio tells what fun it is painting with new paints and ideas. My art shows hidden critters and objects are fun to spot. It flows and moves with bright colors that show drips, drops and runs that will make you smile.
“I love these paintings, and just for Jerry’s sake, I put in a few realistic birds mixed with a little “Opening My Eyes.”
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BAL is located at 2675 Gulf St. in Beaumont.
By DJ Kava, ISSUE contributor