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Artist Feature: Marcy Dronen

Painting Memories

“Don’t share this, people will think I’m weird,” Marcy Dronen laughs brightly as she displays two different sketches of a row of wishbones she saved from cooked chickens. The sketches are part of a “homework” assignment from a recent Zoom class she attended—doing three 5 minute sketches a day to help refocus her brain on her art.

“I love taking classes. You are often reminded of the things you know, and sometimes you learn something different.”

A retired teacher of art and music, it is no surprise that Marcy is a lifelong learner. “In my classes, I tried to keep things really loose. I have a few minor rules to an assignment, and then the sky’s the limit! Everyone needs to have their own voice and develop something that is theirs. The one thing art teaches you most is that there are many answers and many approaches to the same question.”

Wise words spoken with enthusiasm. Talking with her hands as she becomes more animated, it is impossible not to be affected by Marcy’s obvious love for her subject. Her joyous demeanor is reflected in watercolor and acrylic paintings that use bright colors and jaunty compositions. Those paintings explore a wide range of subjects.

“Sometimes I feel like I am going in too many directions, and it is hard to focus. But each piece is something that I am excited about.”

That excitement is easy to see, especially in her most recent works. Inspired by a workshop with Charles Reid, and with the increased ability to travel that came with retirement, her most recent watercolors have traveled with her, catching the rhythm and movement of people in the community and street scenes ranging from Fargo to Florence.

“I love working in watercolor. There are so many surprises that can happen in the process that make it new and fun. Each painting is a series of small victories, and I love that spark of excitement when something is working well.”

Marcy stays active by interacting with other art lovers and enthusiasts at Gallery 4, an artist cooperative gallery in the heart of Downtown Fargo. “I work a couple of days a month at the gallery and have the chance to visit with people from all across the country.” She has her original artworks framed and on display along with a variety of greeting cards for sale in the gallery gift shop. “People love to purchase art from local artists, because it reminds them of their trip.”

Being able to create something that didn’t exist before, especially when it affects a viewer, is Marcy’s favorite part. Taking photos of anything that catches her imagination, Marcy turns those images into unique memories. Sometimes those memories are her own: featuring her music, her cats, or her daughter. A painting done from the life of her daughter reading is featured on a bench on the 400 block of Broadway in downtown Fargo.

Sometimes those memories aren’t her own. An image of a barber college catches the attention of the son of a former graduate. A painting of three white mailboxes that finds its new home with a family who has worked in the post office for years. Marcy’s relatable imagery often sparks emotions in others, which has a positive effect on her, in turn.

“I think it is part of why I am less self-critical than I used to be. I am more comfortable and confident in the result. You don’t always know when that is going to happen, but when a piece speaks to the right person, it’s very dear.”

No matter whom the memory belongs to, the love and joy Marcy exhibits are infused into each one.

Written by Brandi Malarkey

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