Arts and Entertainment

Stubborn twigs — supple artist, MacLeod shows her work in Langley

'Dusky Eagle Owl' by Meredith MacLeod.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Meredith MacLeod

Artist Meredith MacLeod has more than 100 bird books.

Audubon, Boulton, Brasher, Byatt and other wildlife artists from whom she draws inspiration might be envious of her elegant and imaginative derivations. For MacLeod, like the birds she celebrates, is a sharp-eyed observer, but is also a masterful designer.

The longtime tile artist, who now concentrates on creating original artful greeting cards for her company “Stubborn Twig Design,” said it makes sense that all of her designs feature birds.

“I think of them as observers; of being aware of things. And they soar,” MacLeod said.

MacLeod’s work speaks of someone who does quite a lot of noticing — of shape, color, movement and texture.

For the past six years, she has traveled to Maine each year for retreats with several artist friends.

“Part of my interest in these trips has been visiting dusty used bookstores and collecting bird books from the first half of the 1900s,” MacLeod said.

“I am attracted to the rich colors of the prints and the artist’s interpretations. These illustrations have been important references for my most recent body of work.”

But also there’s the romantic side of these feathered friends. Birds sing, and MacLeod used to imagine herself becoming a country western singer, a thing she says with the timidity of one who harbors a secret fantasy.

But her artistic ability is no fantasy, and the color palette and imaginative use of pattern with which she creates her singular and appropriately soaring designs on cards is in no way stubborn.

MacLeod uses her skills as draftsman, printmaker and colorist to create unique layers of pattern and color. The designs could easily work on fabric or wallpaper, options that she looks to for future expansion of her business.

The bird designs, she said, lend themselves to the solid niches of garden stores, art galleries and book sellers, and offer a variety of merchant venues.

“It’s all about the images,” MacLeod noted, “and I’ll probably stick with the birds for awhile.”

A certain enamored quality shows in the work.

“I’m having more fun doing this,” MacLeod said.

“I don’t have to deal with opening the kiln to make sure the piece is coming out right. I have a lot more freedom and can just spend all my free time in my studio creating.”

Everything she creates is from original hand-drawn, hand-printed artwork and produced in her studio.

“I’m not using Photoshop to manipulate anything; it’s all me,” she said

MacLeod’s designs are a regular feature at the Bayview Farmers Market through the summer, which she said has given her a social connection to the world. People often gush openly over her work, and she said the pats on the back have encouraged her to embrace the kudos.

“I like it that people appreciate my work so much,” she said.

“To me, art should speak to you if you’re going to buy it. It shouldn’t just match your furniture. That gives me pleasure.”

MacLeod will show her original artwork from “Stubborn Twig Design” at MUSEO. The show opens with an artists’ reception from 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4 during Langley’s Artwalk. The exhibit runs through Dec. 30.

Besides MUSEO, MacLeod’s work can be found at Linds Freeland Pharmacy, the Open Door Gallery in Bayview, at the Chocolate Flower Farm in Langley and at Bayleaf in Coupeville and Oak Harbor. She’ll also be selling her work at the Bayview Holiday Farmers Market for four Saturdays, starting today, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Bayview Community Hall.

MUSEO is also showing the work of glass and metal artist David Gignac, along with its Annual Gift Show featuring many local artists.

For more about MacLeod’s work, click here or here.

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