2018-08-11 / News

Landscapes, Abstracts, Street Scenes: Mackinac 7 Share Artwork

By Marley Tucker


At left: Mackinac 7 hosts its 22nd summer exhibit at the Mackinac Island Public Library this month. Its members have drawn inspiration from painting together for all those years. Members include (from left) Pat Pulte, Catherine Brockman, Pam Finkel, Maeve Croghan, Nicki Griffith, and Marta Olson. At left: Mackinac 7 hosts its 22nd summer exhibit at the Mackinac Island Public Library this month. Its members have drawn inspiration from painting together for all those years. Members include (from left) Pat Pulte, Catherine Brockman, Pam Finkel, Maeve Croghan, Nicki Griffith, and Marta Olson. From cloud forms to the quality of light, paintings that study Mackinac Island scenes are in a monthlong public exhibit at the Mackinac Island Public Library.

The resident artists of the group Mackinac 7, who have been together since the 1990s, now are in the 22nd season of showcasing their oils and watercolors. One of the seven, Kitty Hannabass, died in 2016, but the remaining six continue to paint together and inspire each other.

Maeve Croghan, owner of Maeve’s Arts on Market Street, entered paintings in the exhibit that were finished as recently as the Fourth of July. She jokes that the paint on “Magic Maniboajo” is practically still wet. Her color palette has evolved, she said, and become subtler. She has been experimenting with water and cloud formations. She’ll go outside on a nice Island day and watch the clouds for inspiration.

“I’ve been enjoying studying how clouds form, and it constantly changes,” she said. “Clouds are all around us and they influence my painting when I find what I’m looking for.”

She started painting when she was 15 years old, pursued it later in life, and eventually helped form the Mackinac 7. The name is based loosely on the Canadian Group of Seven, landscape artists from 1920 to 1933 best known for impressionistic paintings inspired by nature.

Each member of the Mackinac 7 has a personal history rooted in the Island. Its nature scenes and everyday life are featured in many of their compositions.

Member Pam Finkel is taking a break form oil painting, instead experimenting with watercolors. She is interested in architecture, especially on Main Street, and how the quality of light can change the perspective at various times of the day. Ms. Finkel, who has painted for at least 40 years, has 14 watercolors in the exhibition.

“Unlike with oil painting, you take the opposite approach with watercolors,” she said. “You can layer oil paint multiple times and work up to it, whereas with watercolors, you kind of have one shot to make your mark.”

She treasures time spent with the other artists.

“I think that painting with people who share similar interests helps foster my imagination,” she said. “It’s wonderful to see art through someone else’s eyes. The act of sharing art with other people is something very important to me.”

Catherine Brockman experiences art in varied ways. Learning through experience, she paints abstractly and is influenced by works she observed when she was younger. Painting when it is cold outside, usually after New Year’s Day, she prefers to made any necessary changes or add to her paintings before she comes back to Michigan in the summertime.

“I think if I did this exhibit again, I would use more dark colors,” Ms. Brockman noted. “I’m satisfied with some things and I’ll keep trying to change other things. Perspective is 20-20, I guess,” she said. “I’ve been coming to the Island since 1982 and I’ve gotten so much motivation from the world around us. Truly, there’s just a wealth of material.”

Marta Olson was inspired to begin her artistic career when a friend introduced her to watercolors. The lakeshore is one of her favorite areas on the Island to paint and she will sometimes kayak to Round Island and take pictures of the Mackinac Island silhouette for her paintings.

“I do it for fun,” she said. “I just love Mackinac Island and everything in it and it is my primary subject when I do paint. Living here in the summer, I see so many amazing things. I get inspiration from what everyone else is doing and it’s fun to see a variety of different ways Mackinac is represented.”

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