Portfolio: Plein-Air Painting | Margi Lucena

On Location: Six artists hooked on painting outdoors

By Gussie Fauntleroy

Margi  Lucena, Truchas Vista, November, pastel, 11 x 14.

Margi Lucena, Truchas Vista, November, pastel, 11 x 14.

Standing at a child-sized easel on the kindergarten playground one day, 6-year-old Margi Lucena had mixed some tempera paints when her teacher asked what color she was using. With calm confidence the little girl replied, “It’s magenta.”

Lucena no doubt absorbed an early understanding of art from watching her father, who always had an easel set up in the family’s Southern California home. Yet as her vibrant landscapes make clear, the 55-year-old painter draws on her own deep passion for color and light. And in switching a few years ago from oils to pastels, she discovered her perfect medium. Pastel’s immediacy and pure, rich hues are ideal for her style and aesthetic, she notes. “I like to paint fast, and pastel really lends itself to that.”

After living in her husband’s native Hawaii and elsewhere, Lucena now is at home in Socorro, in south-central New Mexico. Not far away are the scenes she loves to paint: arroyos, mountains, mesas, desert vegetation, and the ever-changing Rio Grande. Wherever she goes, she employs an essential lesson from her father: how to observe. “That’s the biggest thing,” she asserts. “If you can’t see it and really feel it, it will be hard to convey it.”

Selby Fleetwood Gallery, Santa Fe, NM; Curious Crow Studio and Gallery, Socorro, NM; Anna Karin Gallery, Truchas, NM; Cobalt Fine Arts, Tubac, AZ; Wild Holly Gallery, Carefree, AZ; www.margilucena.com.

Featured in the June 2010 “On Location” portfolio