Summers at the Torpedo Factory are so busy that it’s easy to overlook how many TFAA artists sneak away from Alexandria. They travel the world, from Lebanon to Utah–and by the time a chill strikes the evening air, you see their journeys reflected in art.
“That’s a church in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia,” explains Margaret Huddy, pointing to a freshly framed acrylic-on-panel painting in her second-floor studio. Huddy and her husband recently explored Baltic and northern European cities on a cruise that also took them to Oslo, Helsinki, St. Petersburg, Copenhagen, Stockholm, and Bruges, all fresh and welcome sights for a plein air painter.
“I’m a landscape painter. I have to go out,” says Huddy, who works outdoors at least one day a week. But when you typically paint on terra firma, is it tricky to paint on a ship?
“I can paint small paintings even on rough seas,” she explains, adding that she long ago learned how to work under less-than-ideal conditions. In her studio, several watercolors of the Rhine attest to her ability to paint the landscapes that fly past the window of a speeding train.
While traveling, Huddy loves to help the people around her see landmarks and landscapes with an artistic eye. “I’ve been a teacher for many years,” she says, “and it’s very rewarding to teach painting and travel sketching on cruise ships.” Some students are new to painting, while others come highly prepared.
“Many British students have a background in watercolor painting, so they bring their own paints,” she says, “but I also meet absolute beginners who’ve never held a brush before.” Even amid serious discussions of composition and color, the results can be emotional.
“Art is wonderful therapy for anyone,” Huddy says, recalling many memorable cruise-ship students. “I met a priest who said it was such a relief to forget everyone else’s troubles for just a little while, and a man in a wheelchair who discovered a talent for painting he didn’t know he had. He was so happy. He’d waited years to say, ‘This is something I love that I can do from my chair.'”
This fall, as you explore the Torpedo Factory studios, look for paintings, drawings, and photographs inspired by our recent travels. You’ll soon find a summer postcard–a story an artist is eager to tell.