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Marilee Beard Campbell
(1938 - )
Marilee Beard Campbell was born June 28, 1938, in Provo, Utah. She loves most to capture the light and color of nature here in Utah, although her "mobile studio" allows her access to landscapes across the country. About her feelings for the Utah land, she has said,
"This desert can have a blazing starkness--harsh and glaring--but when evening comes, the magic begins. The colors soften and take on mysterious qualities. The brassy red soil becomes bluish or red violet in the distance and the grayed blues and limy greens of the brush are a subdued riot against the soil. The blue of the sky has a clarity that is found in few other places, even as it slowly slips away into aqua and lavender tones or radiating reds and oranges. Under the shelter of large pines, the dark limbs are filled with quiet, almost imperceptible color transitions...light glows softly from the shadows.
I see musical rhythm and movement as well as drama and theater in landscape. When sunlight breaks through the clouds it becomes a warm, wonderful spotlight moving silently across a stage. It's a formidable task to try to capture the essence of a scene while light is moving and changing the composition every few minutes. One is forced to distill it into a cohesive, simplified design very quickly."
Marilee Campbell is the granddaughter of George Beard, a noted pioneer painter of the early west, and daughter of a painter-mother and a chainsaw-wood-sculpting father; and is herself, a pioneer of Plein Air (outdoor) pastel painting of the western American landscape. She says about her choice,
Plein Air painting requires a big investment of time in selecting sites, choosing times of day, packing up gear, setting up and being emotionally prepared to seize the moment. It is all a gamble, but when it is successful, it is a high like few other highs. It can be addicting.
When I refine the work at home I try to keep the same spontaneity and mood that I felt outdoors. If I change much of what was painted on the spot the feeling becomes lost in the process. Painters who demand predictability and absolute control cannot work Plein Air. Flexibility is the key to success.
Some of my favorite works are those Plein Air pieces that use few strokes, a kind of calligraphic simplicity that feels Oriental, a visual shorthand. The passion of the moment and the intense concentration required outdoors make it happen. (Once I felt I could feel the earth breathing.) From such conditions come the paintings that I choose to keep in my home, because the experience cannot be repeated in exactly that way again.
It pleases me when viewers notice that my work very often centers around evening scenes or ponds or light on water. I choose to emphasize evening rather than noon time. I am fascinated with the contrast between light and shadow and the feeling of mystery in the shadow areas. It may have something to do with my belief that there must be 'opposition in all things.' On another level, it represents the conflicting ideas and emotions that we all face in life, which at times become a battleground for our conscience, a struggle between good and evil. Light glowing softly from the shadows speaks my belief that good will ultimately triumph on this earth.
The artist, who makes many of her own thousands of colored pastels, states,
I chose pastel in the beginning because it was more compatible with my family responsibilities as wife of a busy educator and mother of five. In 1970, while working in figure at the Birmingham Art Association, I became aware of the current works of the New York artists and found for the first time the availability of soft pastels and French papers that launched me into full color paintings in pastel. Travel throughout Europe and study of museum artists have extended my reference in pastel painting.
My life has been deeply touched by the work of other artists such as Joaquin Sorolla, KSthe Kollwitz, George Inness, and pastelists from the 16th century on. The German painter Johann Thiele is credited with its invention. A Venetian artist, Rosalba Carriera, was the first to make consistent use of pastel. Chardin did portraits with an open stroke, while La Tour preferred the blended finish. Thereafter, a galaxy of famous artists such as Watteau, Copley, Delacroix, Millet, Manet, Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec, Vuillard, Bonnard, Glackens, Whistler, Hassam, and William Merritt Chase used pastel for finished work rather than preliminary sketches. Edgar Degas was the most prolific user of pastel and its champion. His protege, Mary Cassatt, introduced Impressionists' pastels to her friends in Philadelphia and Washington and thus to the U.S. Today, pastel paintings have the stature of oil and watercolor as a major fine art medium.
Marilee Campbell studied at Brigham Young University, where she got a B. A., at the University of Utah, and at the Birmingham Art Association in Detroit, Michigan. She is the recipient of the Pastel Society of America's "Exceptional Merit"--its major annual award (New York City, 1988). She is one of the guest artists invited by the Plein Air Painters of America (P.A.P.A.) to participate in their prestigious shows at Catalina Island. In addition to illustrations for magazines and book covers such as The Lord's Harvest and The Golden Harvest, reproduced for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, her work may be seen in private and corporate collections and galleries. Recent credits of note are, Jurors' Choice, April Salon, 1994, Springville Museum of Art; "Utah, Out of the Land" Women's Exhibit, State of Utah; L.D.S. Church International Exhibit 1994; BYU Alumni 100 Exhibition, 1994. Recently, her work was featured in the renowned Knickerbocker Show in Scottsdale, Arizona. The show contained works of 59 artists (out of 2,000 who submitted work). Campbell also has four pieces featured in the book Best of Pastel. She is one of 140 artists from a nation-wide selection and one of very few who have four pieces in the book.