Art Maker: Maggie Hodges, painter

  • Maggie Hodges paints on the lawn of Forbes Library earlier this summer with fellow members of the Amherst Plein Air Society. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Maggie Hodges paints on the lawn of Forbes Library earlier this summer with fellow members of the Amherst Plein Air Society. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Maggie Hodges paints on the lawn of Forbes Library earlier this summer with fellow members of the Amherst Plein Air Society. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Maggie Hodges works her palette while painting on the lawn of Forbes Library earlier this summer; she’s a member of the Amherst Plein Air Society. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • A work by Maggie Hodges, done while she painted on the lawn of Forbes Library earlier this summer. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • “Sunset Drive,” oil on canvas. Image courtesy Maggie Hodges

  • “Morning Marsh,” oil on canvas. Image courtesy Maggie Hodges

  • “The Other Side,” oil on panel. Image courtesy Maggie Hodges

  • “Sisters,” oil on canvas. Image courtesy Maggie Hodges

Published: 9/5/2019 4:57:56 PM
Modified: 9/5/2019 4:57:46 PM

Maggie Hodges may have gotten a late start in painting, but she’s busy making up for lost time. The Amherst artist and Philadelphia native grew up in an artistic household and later became a graphic designer. Then about 10 years ago, she says, she “fell in love with oil painting” from a class she took; since then she’s studied with painters such as Lindsay Fogg-Willits, Christine Labich, Richard McKinley and others.

Two years ago, Hodges joined The Amherst Plein Air Society and learned about the joys — and challenges — of painting outdoors, and she also upgraded her workspace from her dining room table “to a dedicated, in-home, painting studio. When designing the space, I knew it would be essential to have a good balance of natural and artificial light.” 

Hampshire Life: Talk about the work you're currently doing. What does it involve, and what are you trying to achieve?

Maggie Hodges: I aspire to paint like the Master painters. They make painting appear easy, but I remind myself that it’s not only innate talent that makes an artist great. It takes dedication and hard work to reach an elite level. Malcom Gladwell famously wrote about “the 10,000 Hour Rule.” The principle holds that 10,000 hours of “deliberate practice” are required to become expert in a given field. 

When I began painting, I was painting in a very realistic style and was quite timid about applying paint. Lately I have adopted an impasto painting approach. This involves laying paint on the canvas thickly to give the painting texture. It adds interest and depth to my art along with painting in a looser style.

HL: What do you draw inspiration from? Do you ever have any “Eureka!” moments?

MH: Inspiration comes from different places. For one thing, I’m a photography buff. I enjoy taking photos at sunrise and sunset, as well as when kayaking and traveling. I use these photos, along with my charcoal and pencil drawings, as reference for my paintings.

Occasionally, I also attend Amherst College’s figure drawing sessions to hone my drawing skills. For additional inspiration I enjoy going to galleries, museums and art shows.

HL: How do you know when your work is finished?

MH: That’s difficult to say. There are often elements of a painting I’m uncertain about. My solution is to put it someplace where I can take a quick glance at it or see it from a distance. Over days, weeks or months I will make slight changes, repaint areas or crop while simultaneously being mindful of the perils of overworking and spoiling a piece. When I am happy enough to exhibit a painting or add it to my website, I consider it done.

HL: Name some artists you admire or who have influenced your work. What about their art appeals to you?

MH: People like John Singer Sargent, Manet and Edgar Degas inspire me because of their mastery of composition, color, movement, rhythm and application of paint. Among current artists I admire who embody the same principles are Richard Schmid and Kevin Macpherson. 

HL: If you weren't an artist, what do you think you'd be?

MH: I could see myself as a landscape designer. I have done numerous landscapes and flower bed designs for myself, friends and family, applying the same principles I use for my paintings. Last year my yard/garden was featured in the Amherst Historical Society's garden tour. 

HL: What do you do when you're stuck?

MH: I go to work on my yard and flower garden.

— Steve Pfarrer 

Maggie Hodges’ website is maggiehodgesart.com. 




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