“There is a hill in Damariscotta, Maine that only once you reach the top can you see the salt bay on the other side,” shares Gerding. “I often feel like the trees found here are sentries keeping watch over both sides of that hill, one visible and one a secret that needs to be guarded.”
At nine years old Margaret Gerding’s father cleaned out a portion of their family garage in order to create a little studio space for her. However, even with unconditional support an artist often has to find other avenues first. Gerding has held many other jobs in her life which have allowed her to be where she is today.
When your business is called Maine Art, people come looking for images captured not only in the spirit of Maine but often times in the places of Maine. The three artists currently featured at Maine Art Shows do just that.
Margaret Gerding is not only a painter, she is also a teacher. Spending many days in the marshes or on the beaches of the Kennebunks, she shares her gift or art with her students. It was during one of her recent sessions that she asked her students to push themselves a little further. She issued the 30 Day Artist Challenge, a test to push skills beyond their normal comfort zone. Not only did Gerding issue this challenge, she joined in.
“All three artists have strong ties to Maine and capture the true essence of the state,” says gallery owner John Spain. “Though each has distinctively different styles and subjects, the show as a whole is a wonderfully cohesive body of work.”
The locals and the tourists alike recognize these marshes and have fallen in love with them as Gerding has. “I have always been drawn to this area where the meandering waterways change with the tides, the long grass shows its golden colors, and the protective stance of distance trees is forever present.”
As realistic a painter as Gerding is, she truly enjoys some artist license when it comes to her trees. “In painting the birches, the sketchbook and reference materials become less important,” says Gerding. “The colors take on a life of their own.” These works still hold her traditional realistic view. Yet, the fine papery bark of the birch reflects both the color in the foliage and the autumn light thus producing a truly etherial scene.
“I experiment to keep fresh. I have worked in encaustic and pastels in order to give me myself a change. I even quilt,” says Gerding. “Yet, when all is said and done and it comes to being inspired, I could not be the painter I am without painting directly outdoors.”
At a young age, artist Margaret Gerding first discovered southern Maine. Spending pieces of her summers here, from Granite Point to Goose Rocks, she found her happy place. Now, years later those memories have brought her back to the Kennebunk area and her new home in Cape Porpoise. With this new location came many other changes, as well.
“When something inspires me, I stop and sketch. There is always a sketch pad in my car and even in my purse,” Gerding laughs. “I do take photographs, but I usually use them only as a reference for color or structure. The final painting is never what I actually see, it’s my response to the inspiration.”