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12 Dec Artist Spotlight: Tim McMahon

Tim McMahon was born in Waterloo, Iowa in 1954. He was educated at the University of Iowa and The University of Northern Iowa. McMahon has over 30 graduate hours mostly in ceramics, however, has always considered himself a painter. After his wife of 24 years passed away after a prolonged illness, he was hired in 2002 to teach at Hopewell High School in Huntersville, NC. He remarried, to one of his former students, and returned to the studio in earnest. Since January of 2003, I have painted, first with acrylics, then with oils, the landscapes and figures that inspire me. My painting helps me make sense of life. When I am painting or contemplating the recent work, I am optimistic, joyful and happy. My work is an essential part of my feeling whole, complete.

When did you start your career in art? How long have you known you wanted to be an artist?
I took an art class as a senior in high school. Then in my second semester of college, I took a studio class and I was hooked. When I first smelled oil paint, I decided I wanted to be a painter.

Describe your aesthetic in 3 words…
Bold, Gestural, Linear

Describe your artistic process and preparation?
Generally, I photograph the natural environment. I work from my photos in the studio. For me, painting is a very physical act. I usually work from a sketch using oil sticks or dark oil paint to loosely define the subject. I tend to paint on a colored ground because the white of the canvas is a distraction. I work dark to light, warm to cool. I usually finalize the piece in 3 or 4 sessions. I like to work at least two pieces at once and share colors. At times, I disregard the subject photo and just paint the surface.

Favorite piece you’ve created to date and why?
During the summer of ‘77, I made some mono prints from some old figure studies. A couple years later, I went into the sketch with mixed media. It’s on the second frame. I’ve hung her everywhere I’ve ever lived.

Who inspires you personally and/or professionally?
Cezanne, DeKooning, Mitchell, Hoffman, and Kline

Biggest accomplishment to date?
I survived teaching in public schools for 38 years and I’m still passionate about art.

Favorite location to create/what is your studio like?
My current studio is a climate controlled room above my garage. I have two easels with lights so I can paint in any light or weather. I have music, fresh canvasses, a big comfortable chair from which to contemplate the current work.

A random fact about you?
I was born around the time Matisse died.

One thing you couldn’t live without?
I couldn’t live without painting.

Your all-time favorite artist and/or your favorite emerging artist?
Rembrandt Van Rijn

Name one goal for your career you’d like to achieve in the next 5 years?
I want to paint and see the best paintings of my life!

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