Artists of the Month - September 2016
by Judie Apablaza
Barbara Thorn-Otto, our first place winner has an affinity for painting children. The title of her watercolor painting was, “Kristie,” and the personalty of the little impish child was well represented and perfectly captured. Rather than staying away from a difficult subject, Barbara states that painting children is a joy. She follows the masters’ advice and does a value study first, and in this case her reference photograph translated into a successful portrait reflecting Barbara’s personal style. She was very pleased to have saved the “whites” with the purity of the paper that make watercolors sparkle.
Our award winner is not a sporadic painter, but has attended Glendale’s Brand Studio Monday group for many years. The group consists of about a dozen artists who have formed a cohesive group; true friendships have formed over a period of twenty years. Just as the French Impressionists supported one another, these artists have encouraged each other, and in turn have perfected their art and evolved over time.
Barbara majored in fine art at Pasadena City College and was granted a scholarship to Art Center College of Design. After a time in the entertainment industry she worked as a sales representative for eighteen years. As we can see, her love of figure drawing and fashion illustration has served her well in her portrait painting. Barbara Thorn-Otto believes that art is a necessity and not a luxury, she states that art fills our souls and brightens our spirits. She is an enthusiastic presence at Verdugo Hills Art Association and we are richer for her being a member.
Our second place winner, Mary Jane Klune, is also a member of a select group that has painted and traveled with the late Chris Van Winkle. She has also formed friendships that will continue much like groups of well-known painters from the past. A sense of solidarity continues even though their teacher is no longer with them. The title of her painting, “Morro Bay Pier” has special significance for Mary Jane for she created this award-winning painting the weekend of Chris Van Winkle’s memorial in Morro Bay, California.
The Van Winkle workshops in Morro Bay and other locations will continue under the leadership of several women from the Mid-Valley Art group. Mary Jane also continues to take classes and paints with other artists at the Community Center in El Monte, where about 30 artists meet on a Monday morning. She also participates in a Plein Air group on Thursday mornings in which a critique at the end of the morning adds invaluable information for continued growth.
Mary Jane prefers to work “loose” in more of the impressionistic style. She feels that Chris Van Winkle’s Citrus College class was an excellent introduction to the world of watercolor. Many Jane encourages everyone to take workshops and classes from several teachers and then develop a unique style, all your own.