June McCartney remembers being inspired by color as a child during an art class at the Montclair Art Museum in New Jersey.
“I’ll never forget it, I remember the light coming in the room, and I remember mixing the paint and being so fascinated that the paint would make different colors,” the Mancos resident said.
She has continued on that bright trajectory, now focusing largely on painting still life landscapes and florals. A collection of her floral paintings is hanging at the Olio restaurant in downtown Mancos through mid-September.
McCartney has been painting since age 10, growing up with an artistic older sister and taking part in school art clubs. After high school, she attended the Washington University School of Fine Arts in St. Louis to study drawing and painting.
“I had the most wonderful freshman and sophomore painting teacher, who gave me what I needed to continue to teach myself,” McCartney said. “She was all about perception. It wasn’t any kind of conceptual training, it was one where we would set up and paint from something, either a model or a still life.”
She’s continued to paint since, although she’s held other jobs too. She was working as a graphic designer for Mercedes-Benz in New Jersey when she realized that graphic design was hindering her painting style.
“I was becoming more rigid,” McCartney said. So she switched to working as a systems analyst, at the same Mercedes-Benz.
Her artistic inspiration derives from fellow colorists Henri Matisse and Milton Avery. Matisse also was renowned for using beautiful fabrics in his work, McCartney said — similar to her own methods. For her own floral paintings, she buys the most “exciting” fabrics and patterns she can, matching them with her plentiful supply of artificial flowers as a model.
“I try to get the most lively grouping of colors as I can,” McCartney said. “That’s what really excites me, is when there’s plenty of color to work with.” Oftentimes she has to invent her own colors — otherwise they can get “too boring.”
Right now, she is working on “taking a looser approach” with her paintings, she said.
“Taking a little more license with what I see in front of me, in order to give the painting more impact, and the color to be more important than the picture,” McCartney said. A painting, she said, is all about the interaction of the colors, as ”the whole is greater than its parts,” she said.
Her artwork will be on display through Sept. 12 at Olio, 114 Grand Ave.