You may know the prize-winning McLean artist Margaret Huddy, who has worked in watercolors from a studio at Alexandria's Torpedo Gallery since 1981.
But do you know Margaret Huddy, the prize-winning member of the McLean Photo Club?
Albeit she is a past president and longtime competitions chair at the club, Margaret is not fanatical about f-stops; she is not a fiend at Photoshop; darkroom chemicals don’t land on her clothes. As a photographer, she does one thing, and she does it well. She sees.
The well-seen photograph is one that has as its subject the unfamiliar, the unconventional, or, best of all, the intriguing twist on the daily scene. That last characteristic is one that earned Margaret a nickname: The sycamore lady.
Margaret has portrayed a particular McLean sycamore forty times; she has in hand a commission for its forty-first. Each painting is different. You can see many of them in her Blurb book, The Sycamore Series.
Setting aside the sycamore, Margaret is known in the club as an architectural photographer. She shoots buildings in order to paint them from their photos. It is fair to say that, sometimes, the photographic blueprint rivals the finished watercolor.
But don’t ask her about f-stops. "I've got an eye, but I'm not a technician," Margaret says. "I literally have taught artists photography without f-stops." Despite winning many photography prizes at the club and elsewhere over the years, Margaret has stuck with a non-technical approach. "It's all just camera on automatic and I'm lucky if I get it."
Margaret's architecture photographs emphasize contrast, light, shade and composition. When the photos win competitions, it is for these qualities.
When the architecture photos serve as studio models for her paintings, she leaves one thing entirely to her own interpretation: color. Take a look at the gallery of her (photographed and painted) work above. Her colors are sublime. Yet they are real.
I asked her about being at the Torpedo Gallery all these years and what she's learned there. The company she keeps, Margaret says, has helped her keep learning. What is surprising, coming from a successful professional artist, is what she says about how much she learned at the McLean Photo club.
"At a painting competition, you enter [your paintings]. They get in; [or] they don't get in, [and] you get them back. That's all you know. You don't learn by it.
“The competitions at [photo] clubs are wonderful because you hear the [judge's] critique. And that's why I've many times told my [painting] students to join a photography club.
“And [from photo competitions] I have learned, even with my painting....Don't have a white spot [of light] down near the corner of the painting."
Hot spots, as those are known, are a distracting no-no, especially near the edges of the picture frame. But Margaret is being modest. The consistency and variety of tones sets apart her work – the painted and the photographed alike. Examples of her work in both arts are in the gallery above. Enjoy!
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An archive of our Patch posts on club competitions and interviews with club members Bill Prosser, Tom Mangan and Ursy Potter is at the McLean Photo Club's new Facebook page. Please "LIKE" us on Facebook to keep up with announcements from the club.
Our holiday party is Sunday December 2 at 6:30 pm. For the location and other details, please contact the club president. Happy holidays!
After the holidays, MPC's next meeting will be Wednesday January 9 at 7:30 pm in the McLean Community Center. Tuan Pham will be our speaker. About Tuan: "Photography helps him see deeply without the camera and gives him great joy, particularly when photography and Zen touch to spark a serene inner setting and profound attunement to the present moment." For more about Tuan, click here.