Margaret Huddy, Capitol, East View, 1999, 29 x 41 inches, watercolor on paper

Margaret Huddy, Capitol, East View, 1999, 29 x 41 inches, watercolor on paper

Margaret Huddy: Plein Air Watercolor

Thursday, December 1, 2016

When I was in elementary school, my mother made me take every art program I possibly could.  Any club or after school program, and during the summer, you can bet I was there.  I only remember two of those classes, one was a mosaics class where I tiled my name onto a small piece of plywood, and the other was a watercolor class.  I painted a butterfly and it was the greatest accomplishment at that stage of my life.

My mom still has it hanging in the hallway on the wall where my artwork lives on.  I find myself looking at it when I go down the hallway to my old room and often think, “Why was I so proud of myself and why is it hanging on the wall like it’s Michelangelo?”  There it is with its bleeding colors turning brown and the paper crinkled because of the amounts of water I doused it in.  This is how I still think of watercolors—carelessly painted, muddily blended, and overall ugly.

However, there are artists that I have come to love who use this medium.  Now that I am older, I find that when used carefully, watercolor can be more than just watery colors together; they can create a beautiful picture that can be just as realistic as acrylics or oils.  One of these individuals is Margaret Huddy, an award-winning watercolorist who is nationally recognized for her beautiful technique and intense colors.

Huddy was born in Philadelphia, PA, but lived the military lifestyle, often moving from one location to the next. Because of her constant travel, Huddy found herself choosing mediums that could be easily moved around with her.  She went on to study at the University of the Arts and Moore College of art.  Absorbed in the color, Huddy spent many years as a “plein air” painter, meaning she often painted landscapes and monuments outside to gather the essence of the natural lighting and coloring.

She has maintained a studio in Alexandria, VA in the Torpedo Factory Art Center where she has continued her work.  The artwork at the top of this page is called Capitol, East View and is part of her Washington DC, Monuments collection.  Like many of her other works, this one captures the beauty of the natural light reflecting off of the Capitol Building.  In an interview with Creativity in Action, Huddy notes: “I love to paint white things … because I can have so much fun with the color.” Huddy enjoys focusing on the highlights that white brings in and disregards the use of black and focuses on the beauty that the sun brings.

Her attention to detail is dazzling.  Her precision and line shows excellent technique and patience.  Though she often paints her work in the spur of the moment and outside in the elements, her artwork is clean and looks like perfection.  The work above is a wonderful example showing her skill with the watercolor medium.

Margaret Huddy has truly perfected her art form; she captivates her audience with the fluidity and faultlessness when executing her artwork.  Unlike my butterfly painting that is hanging in my mother’s hallway, Huddy proves that watercolors don’t always have to be a complete mess.  They can be meticulously painted, crisply blended, and overall beautiful.

—Emily Henrich


Emily Henrich received her undergraduate degree in History and is currently a Museum Studies graduate student at SUNY Buffalo State College. Emily spends her extra time researching and travelling.