WRITTEN BY TARA LYNN JOHNSON
For 21st Century Media
For professionals, art is not only a way to view the world — it is their world. They live and breathe creativity. And the Main Line Art Center’s latest exhibit showcases the talent of more than 40 such people — painters, photographers, sculptors, and mixed media artists from the Philadelphia region.
The “Professional Artist Members Exhibition” showcases pros who are Center members and participants in the Professional Artist Member Program (which aims to support and promote the careers of this select group). Professional Artist Members are eligible for group or solo shows as part of the Center’s Exhibitions in the Community Series, as well as the center’s annual juried “Professional Artist Members Exhibition.”
Some of the featured artists: Donald E. Camp, Steven Earl Weber, Linda Dubin Garfield, Deirdre Murphy, Lydia Panas, Jennie Thwing, and Lori Waselchuk.
Jean Plough, a former teacher who is now a full-time artist, has a piece called “Reflection” in the exhibit. It’s part of an abstract series she’s working on using a process she calls aimless wandering.
“I use these rules: I do not have any goals; I do not try to make it look like anything; I do not try to salvage any area; and I am not attached to the outcome,” she said.
She wanted to work this way after remembering meditation retreats that had strict schedules, then a day of aimless wandering, like taking a walk and not going toward something that may call her attention.
Plough also has studied creativity and knows that having rules can allow the space for creativity to happen.
“If the boundaries are there, you don’t have to think that much about what you’re going to do,” she said. “You just do it.”
She said it’s difficult not to reject pieces based on how they look or otherwise turn out when she’s finished creating them. But she doesn’t.
“That would violate the rules,” she said.
Plough, who has painted representational work in the past, prefers abstract pieces, though they are challenging. She likes the challenge and tries to meet it by painting every day. Plus, that keeps her motivated.
“If I don’t paint every day, it’s so difficult to start up again,” she said. “Sometimes, I take a vacation when I’m traveling, but I’m always drawing or stretching a canvas. I do something artistic every day.”
She also likes abstracts because they attempt to capture a feeling.
“When you look at abstract work, there’s more of a visceral feeling,” she said, “like there’s a feeling but you can’t put your finger on what it is.”
She hopes that her color-filled paintings make people feel uplifted.
“I hope they emit a positive, radiating quality,” she said.
An avid walker and hiker, Plough’s inspired by nature. She also gleans inspiration from other artists, interactions with people, light, and landscapes, she said.
She loves the hands-on feeling of creating with paint.
“I can put layers on top of layers, scratch or wipe some away, to reveal what’s underneath,” she said.
Revealing what’s hidden is also personally enlightening.
“It helps me to uncover a part of myself that I wouldn’t normally be in contact with,” she said.
There’s an uncertainty when beginning a new piece.
“It’s just frightening when you see a blank canvas,” she said.
But having a process and an idea of what you’re going for, even if you don’t know what it will be when it’s done, is worth it, she said.
“I like not having a plan. I love to never know what it’s going to look like,” she said. “I love to see something manifesting out of nothing. Where there wasn’t something there before, now there is. It’s exciting.”
IF YOU GO
What: Professional Artist Members Exhibition
When: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mon.-Thu.; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fri.-Sun. Jan. 15 through Feb. 11. Opening reception: 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Fri., Jan. 16.
Where: Main Line Art Center, 746 Panmure Road, Haverford.
Info.: Call (610) 525-0272 or visit www.mainlineart.org