By Michelle Boaen Jameson
Photos courtesy Quinlan Visual Arts Center
The 40th annual Quinlan Visual Arts Center Gala is just around the corner but the guests of honor already have been named. Long-time Quinlan members Jill and Patrick McGannon have been selected to represent the center at this year’s auction.
Amanda McClure, executive director of the Quinlan Visual Arts Center, said the McGannons are two of the most collected artists in the auction’s history. They will attend at the popular event on Saturday, March 3, and the Collector’s Preview Night on Thursday, March 1. Original pieces will be for auction during the Gala at the Quinlan on Green Street in Gainesville.
“Both professional artists started as figure painters and met through their mutual interest in one another’s work at a gallery in Chicago 21 years ago. Now living and working out of their home studio in Suwanee, they have different, yet complementary, bodies of work,” McClure said.
“Jill prefers to work from life whenever possible with recent works focusing on landscape scenes; however, she also creates exquisite figures and still life in oil. Patrick, by trade, has been working for 25 years as a fine art conservator of paper artifacts, still making time to paint and attend a weekly life drawing session. Recently, Patrick entered — and was accepted — into the prestigious Oil Painters of America Eastern Regional Exhibition where he also won the bronze award. His monumental nudes on gold backgrounds are stunning showstoppers in the auction.”
McClure said a committee reviews potential artists for the Guest of Honor position. The last six years, it selected artists that have fully established themselves and have a unique relationship to the Quinlan. Those selected include Jay Kemp, Gregory Johnson, Steve Penley, Roseta Santiago and Geoffrey Johnson.
“For the 40th annual Gala, we wanted to do something a little different,” McClure said. “Jill and Patrick have been very good to the Q over the years and are two of our most popular, best-selling Gala artists. They have each shown here in solo exhibitions and are both talented working artists. The fact that they are married, that’s just cool.”
The McGannons are just as eager to take part in the event.
“Patrick and I have been donating to the Gala for 20 years,” Jill said. “We moved from Chicago, where he’s from and where we met, to Atlanta, where I’m from, in 1997. Right away we found a drawing group, I started going to Portrait Society of Atlanta meetings and heard about the Quinlan.”
Patrick’s hallmark is his realistic figure paintings, particularly of the female back, with striking contrast of lights and darks.
“I’ve always been drawn to the great artists of the past, especially the Italian Renaissance masters such as Michelangelo, Raphael and Da Vinci,” he said. “Central to their art was the study of anatomy along with studying nature in all of its beauty and complexity. I began at a young age to copy the drawings and paintings of the great masters to learn and understand how they created such powerful and beautiful artwork.
“I went on to receive my bachelor in fine arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and my MFA from Indiana University. The most important and fascinating classes I took during my art school years were the anatomy classes. We learned to draw all of the bones and muscles of the body along with all of the major surface features of the body and how they related to one another. It was wonderful to learn the secret symmetry, design and beauty of the human figure.
“Understanding how the individual bones and muscles come together and work together to become the beautiful human form was one of the most powerful and rewarding experiences for me as an artist and it is something that still motivates me as an artist to this day.
“Central to understanding the figure is working from the live model. Traditional drawing sessions include making many gesture drawings that are made in a minute or two that force the artist to capture the essence of the figure in as few lines as possible. From there, poses become longer and longer so that a figure drawing can become more and more developed. Many of these developed drawings then become the basis for my paintings.
“I work in a classical tradition of first making a detailed drawing of the subject and then making a painting based on the drawing. This allows me to first work out the values and composition before color is added to the final work.”
Jill describes her work as realistic.
“I do realistic oil paintings of landscapes, people and still lifes, working from life whenever possible,” said Jill.
Her work has been on view around the state and country.
“I’ve shown at Mason Fine Art (formerly Mason Murer) in Atlanta since the gallery opened 10 years ago. I also have work at Addington Gallery in Chicago,” she said.
Jill has had paintings recently accepted into several national shows, including Oil Painters of America’s Eastern Regional Exhibition 2015, American Women Artists Annual Juried Exhibition of 2015 and Women Painters of the Southeast’s Annual Juried Members’ Exhibition 2015, 2016 and 2017. She is also a member of the Eastern League of Professional Artists and was shown in their inaugural exhibit at the Blue Ridge Mountain Arts Center in 2017. The second ELPA show will be held in July at the Quinlan.
“For me, landscape painting is a search for the phenomenally beautiful. I try to find a view with great color and light and then attempt to capture the magic with paint on canvas,” she said.
“For the last seven years, I’ve participated in a show in Savannah that is a fundraiser for the Telfair Museum. That’s been a good sales opportunity for me since I paint a lot of marsh scenes. We have a condo in Hilton Head, and I paint there plein air and paint the larger paintings in my studio here in Suwanee. Painting plein air allows me to see the values and color more accurately than I could from a photograph.”
She’s been painting with oils since fourth grade. A class she attended at the Quinlan really turned on a light in her artistic world.
“The first workshop I ever took was at the Quinlan from Gregg Kreutz. I went to University of Georgia, graduating in 1985 with a bachelor of fine art in drawing and painting, and in 1988 with a master of fine art in drawing and painting,” she said.
Even though she “adored and respected my teachers at UGA, I had never seen another artist paint a demo, and I learned more in that first workshop than I did in six years at UGA! A light bulb went on,” Jill said.
“I had been painting the figure for so many years, which is more nuanced. Gregg’s demo was a still life with flowers. It was so clear: darks, lights, midtones, drawing. It was so exciting; his paintings radiated color and life! That demo made me start working from life.
“They just weren’t teaching realistic painting at colleges in the ’80s. The faculty at UGA was mostly abstract expressionist painters. There were two teachers there who could draw well, and I did learn drawing from them.”
At UGA, Jill learned the discipline of painting several hours per day, how to critique a painting, how to mix color and how to draw.
“I’m thankful that while they weren’t teaching realism, they didn’t try to dissuade me from painting that way, like they did at some schools. But the workshops at the Quinlan, including several of Gregg Kruetz’s and one with Roseta Santiago, were where I really learned how to paint from life in a straightforward manner.”
“I found that painting ‘alla prima,’ where the entire painting is completed in one session, was so much fun. It was so much more engaging than just working from photos. I’ve been painting my smaller works from life ever since.”
On being named the Gala’s guests of honor, Jill said, “Patrick and I were blown away. It’s quite an honor, and we’re thrilled to help the Quinlan in any way we can. The workshops I took at the Quinlan were pivotal in my growth as an artist. No one else was offering workshops from nationally known artists teaching realism in the ’90s in the Atlanta area, and the Quinlan has continued to be a great resource for artists.”
The 40th annual Quinlan Gala Fine Art Auction includes 100 couples, 100 artworks and will feature the highest caliber original artwork by local, regional and national talents. Tickets went on sale Jan. 2, and are $125 per person for entry to both Gala and preview night. The proceeds from the auction directly fund Quinlan programming, including classes, exhibitions and community outreach.
For more information, contact the Quinlan at 770-536-2575 or www.QuinlanArtsCenter.org