Peggy Macnamara is a resident artist for the Field Museum. I was drawn to her works at the museum, long before ever meeting Peggy. Then, about 10 years ago, I observed some of her watercolor classes and had the unique opportunity to witness Peggy illustrate a Chicago child's story about a pond in the city. Peggy took the time to meet with the 10-year-old and brought the little girl's words to life. I officially became a fan and now I highly recommend checking out Peggy's gallery exhibition. Peggy has published books on migration, insects, wildlife watercolor painting, and more. Her predominant medium of watercolor brings a unique beauty to scientific renderings and I have a soft spot for her subject matter - animals (including lots of bugs).
Peggy says, "When you truly observe a bug, bird or mammal, you enrich and develop your artistic instincts." The bug part of that is amazing to me. As someone who spent over 10 years as a Conservation Educator, I know it's easy to get someone to look into the eyes of a majestic tiger and understand that they are worthy of admiration and protection, but if you can get someone to care about a bug - then you've truly made an impact. Peggy's insect paintings at the Field Museum simply glitter and the soft watercolors bring insects to life while amping up their jewel-like beauty qualities. Guests often stop in their tracks and are compelled to admire... bugs.
Doing such incredibly detailed works in watercolors is no small feat. Watercolors (as the name implies) have water! The paints can be runny and both the texture and hue take skill to control. Peggy creates rich color palates and bird-filled forests brimming with details and textures of feather and bark... all created with tinted water. The end result is a scientific rendering so accurate they adorn a nature museum.
How She Began
I learned from her artist statement at the gallery that Peggy's exhibition is a unique "full circle" occasion - she took a drawing class at the Evanston Art Center 35 years ago. A classmate showed Peggy some watercolors that were done at the Field Museum and voila! Inspiration! The Field became Peggy's muse.
Click through the gallery below to see a few of my faves from "Museum Perspectives"
Check it out!
Peggy Macnamara's website
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