A native of Waterloo, Iowa, Tim Mahon was educated at the University of Iowa and the University of Northern Iowa. He taught in that state for twenty-five and a half years while continuously working at painting, drawing, printmaking, and ceramics. For thirty-seven years Tim McMahon has been an “aesthetic missionary,” sending out the “Karmic energy of thevisual arts.” His teaching methods included working side-by-side with his students, drawing, painting, printing, working three-dimensionally with clay, and studying art history.
In 2001 Mc Mahon lost his first wife after a lengthy illness. In 2002, he remarried. He and his new wife, Lori, moved to North Carolina, where, after thirty-eight years, he retired from teaching Art in the public schools in two states. “Although I enjoyed working with young people, almost four decades of public service is enough.” Mc Mahon credits Lori with helping him to return to the studio in earnest. There he works to balance expression with the descriptive aspects of his subjects.
Since 2003, Mc Mahon has focused his attention on painting landscapes that allow the viewer to “feel” what it’s like in the landscape and figures that inspire him. Initially McMahon worked with acrylics, and now he works with oils. Now a resident of Rockbridge County, Tim says “I intend to spend my remaining days painting, writing, traveling, hiking, and spending time with our children and grandchildren.”
When asked if he believed in God, Henri Matisse replied, “When I’m working.” Like Matisse, my painting helps me make sense of life. When I am painting or contemplating the recent work, I am optimistic, joyful, and happy. My work is an essential part of my feeling whole, complete. I have drawn and painted for forty years. During that time, I have created paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures, and ceramic objects. I love the variety of visual expression. I am currently focused on painting landscapes. Over the years I have traveled, mostly to the Western United States, where I have photographed and sketched the natural environment. I draw on this documentation as visual and emotional inspiration for oil paintings.
“My historical mentor is Cezanne, who models my brushwork. Cezanne spoke of making paintings, ‘that are a kind of teaching.’ I view my paintings that way. I try to balance the literal, objective aspects of the subject with the expressive gesture of the execution. I draw on the pure, broken color of Impressionism as a starting point. However, the intense elation I feel hiking down a mountain trail or walking barefoot through the surf must be expressed, not merely described.” Sisley wrote, ‘The scenes we paint are the place we are in love with.’ “I love the wild places in the mountains and the restless movement of water. Images of waterfalls allow me to show the jagged planes of the mountains juxtaposed with the ever-changed light on moving water. The mountains, forests, fields, lakes, rivers, and the oceans provide inspiration for my eye and brush. I humbly attempt to describe and express the sublime majesty and complexity of the natural environment. I travel the wild places, documenting the mountains, rivers, oceans, and the trails I hike. In the studio I attempt to capture the spirit of those places. I try to show their beauty with brush marks and strong color.”
“The dramatic gestures of DeKooning and Kline inspire me. Although I greatly admire and appreciate non-objective painting, I prefer to find the “abstract” in objective, literal scenes. With broad brushstrokes I attempt to capture light. The brushwork evokes rather than copies the complex forms in nature. I have stopped drawing on the canvas preliminary to painting. I often block in the darkest darks as a structure on which to “hang” the rest of the colors and values. I never use black. My rule is, “All light is color. The shadow is the complement.” Descriptive or local color is often replaced with more expressive, lyrical color scheme.
In his first gallery showing at the Alleghany Highlands Arts and Crafts Center, McMahon continues to seek between expression and the descriptive aspects of his subjects. The energy of his brushwork and style is imperative, pulling viewers into the power and beauty of his scene. The work is both energizing and yet meditative as well. Step back from any of these paintings and watch the brush strokes resolve into a vista; come close and find a window into the structures that holds them together. It’s a kind of magic.
EXPRESSSIVE LANDSCAPES opens Tuesday May 31 and closes Friday July 2, 2022. You are sure to enjoy a visit to these vibrant and beautiful landscapes.
The Alleghany Highlands Arts and Crafts Center is supported by its members, contributors, the Town of Clifton Forge, the City of Covington, the County of Alleghany, The Alleghany Foundation, The Virginia Commission for the arts and The National Endowment for the Arts.
|Bend in the Blackfoot by Tim McMahon|
|The Falls by Tim McMahon|
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