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The Return of September – McGee that is!

By MAGGI HENRIKSON

Photos by Mary Hurlbut

“I love being back with my peeps!” exclaimed September McGee. And we love that she’s back. After a brief one and a half year stint on the east coast, September confirms what she knows, “I know it isn’t my energy over there!”

The long time Sawdust artist is happy to be back in the ‘Dust. 

“Artists are such nice people. They’ve been so wonderful,” September says. “It’s healing for me to be here.” Sage words considering her trip to the east coast was for medical care. The art venue is like a friendly, welcoming embrace upon returning home in good health.

Add to the warm and fuzzy feeling a few new art awards, and September has the makings of a very good summer.

Artist, September McGee

The award-winning artist does not quietly paint away in her studio. She projects her soul into her artwork and the expression gives her voice. She delights in sharing with others, as is evident anytime you happen by her booth where she is usually engaged in animated conversation with her many visitors. 

“I love being at the Sawdust because it’s not lonely, and you get feedback. The customers here rock!” she said. “We have to educate the public – like, explain what is a ghost print, or the use of different papers. I want them to go home happy.”

Art makes a difference

She is an artist changing the world in her own way, by educating and giving back through her medium.

“Art is probably the first language – you know, painting the deer on the cave. I want to use my art to promote non-violence. I would like to see artists come together to promote peace.”

Click on photo for a larger image

 

After 9/11 September was stirred into action and asked herself: “What can you do to promote tolerance?” The answer began with a painting of five children (all from Top of the World School), of different ethnicities holding hands in front of the flag. The painting went to a charity event for Patch Adams, a humanitarian luncheon attended by the Vice President’s wife, Lynn Cheney, and then on to fundraisers for Child Help USA, Children Uniting Nations, and the Hunger Project. September was happy to meet people through this journey, and see her painting as a catalyst. 

“One idea went and did a lot of good!”

Getting notice

Expressing herself through artwork has been something September McGee was good at since about her first art award in the third grade. That one was for a drawing in crayons of a symphony conductor. “I was a realist – staying inside the lines,” said September. “Then I moved on with what-else-can-you-do!” Onto impressionism, training in figurative work and portraiture. 

Submitted photo

Maestro II, McGee’s painting recently juried in to an exhibition in New York

The awards have continued since that third grade win, including numerous juried competitions and elected membership in excusive international artists groups. She was recently notified that one of her paintings has been accepted into the Allied Artists of America Juried Exhibition at the Salmagundi Club, New York – that’s a big deal. But there’s more… It’s a painting of a symphony conductor! Just like her third grade self, September is excited, humbled, and amused by the irony that two paintings with the same subject should be honored.

“It’s a big coup and the interesting news is it is a painting of Carl St. Clair who is celebrating his 25th Anniversary with the Pacific Symphony and as you know he lives in Laguna Beach,” said September.

Breaking through

September has shown at the Sawdust since 1993. For two years she participated in the Festival of Arts as well. That was hard, going back and forth between festivals, she admits. “I didn’t know who I was!” But she has been an artist her whole life despite the challenges. Sometimes it’s the difficult obstacles that open new horizons. 

September McGee’s booth at the Sawdust Art Festival

“It’s not easy. It has its tortuous moments – you want to create but don’t always know the way.

“When you have a piece that doesn’t work, it’s torture. You have to have confidence and believe you can do it when you walk up to the easel,” she said. And just when you’re about to lose confidence or feel defeated, September has the solution: “Just hum! Then you can’t criticize yourself!”

Such words of wisdom float around in her brain and are just calling out to be heard. So, she wrote a book. And then another one.

In her words

September has put her passion and inspiration into two books. The first evolved from her children’s art classes around town. Written and illustrated by September, the book focuses on a child’s wonder at the beach. Let’s Sail Away is an educational and fun story about preserving our tidepools. 

Her latest book has just been published. Love is my Favorite Color features her own words of inspiration with her paintings as illustration. “I think I wrote it for myself,” September says. “It’s what I’ve learned about how to be a better human being.”

September’s passion and inspiration are a joy both in print and on canvas.

“This energy is a gift that comes through me for which I am forever grateful,” September says in her Artist’s Statement. “Each painting is my gift back.”

Shaena Stabler is the Owner, Publisher & Editor.

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor & Writer.

Michael Sterling is our Webmaster & Designer.

Alexis Amaradio, Barbara Diamond, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Lynette Brasfield, Marrie Stone, Maggi Henrikson, Samantha Washer, and Suzie Harrison are our writers and/or columnists.

Mary Hurlbut and Scott Brashier are our photographers.

Stacia Stabler is our Social Media Manager & Writer.

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