Artists of Note | Rhonda McCay

In her mother’s footsteps

Rhonda McCay, Lazy Days of Summer, oil, 8 x 10.

Rhonda McCay, Lazy Days of Summer, oil, 8 x 10.

This story was featured in the October 2014 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art October 2014 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!

Rhonda McCay approaches her plein-air landscapes with a reverence that is multifold—at once a love of the outdoors and of expressing her emotional connection to her subject. What’s foremost when she’s painting is the connection McCay feels to her mother, who passed away a year ago. “She’s always there with me,” the artist says with emotion.

Though her mother painted when McCay was growing up, she says, “I was ‘too busy’ to be in the house long enough to see what she was doing or learn from her.” More recently, McCay was living in the Caribbean, and her mother planned a visit. McCay told her to bring her paints, that she had bought canvases for her. “My mother didn’t go to the beach and swim,” she says. “I told her I needed paintings for my walls. I didn’t know what I was asking of her!” While she painted, her mother tempted McCay with the occasional offer of “Here, you try it.” And by the time the visit was over, McCay was interested enough to seek out instruction on her own.

A social painter, McCay jumps at the chance to paint with her local plein-air group, and she is quick to note that painting locked away in a studio is not for her. “I like the free feeling of being outside. I love hearing the birds,” she says. “Plein air has been a passion from the beginning.”

McCay’s mountain landscapes and seascapes are studies in energy and movement, light and shadow. She says, “I love shadows and how the light plays on them.” But most important for McCay is that painting is a gift from her mother. 
—Laura Rintala

McCay is represented by River Light Art Gallery, Crested Butte, CO, and Rabbit Brush Gallery, Hygiene, CO.

Featured in the October 2014 issue of Southwest Art magazine–click below to purchase:
Southwest Art October 2014 print issue or digital download Or subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss a story!

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