Meet Some of the Delmarva Artists Who Inspired Us In 2015

by Dana Kester-McCabe

I have to say that talking to artists is one of the best parts of my job. Even if you are not interested in making art yourself they inspire all of us to be more creative in our everyday lives.

Most artists will agree that their calling is not usually an easy one. Because of the physicality of their work sculptors learn early on that persistence pays. Here is what Princess Anne clay artist Ernie Satchell had to say:

Ernie Satchell:
"When you work in art it's just like dance. It looks so easy when you see someone else do it. They go on stage and they stay on stage for a short period of time. And you think, for a ballet dancer, they make a lot of money for such a small performance. But then you look back and you think how many years did it take for them to get there? So it's a determination and a drive. You have to feel passionate about what you are doing. If you feel passionate you will do that regardless."

"You know people that like to sing, even though they might be doing construction work; they will sing at every opportunity they get. They will sing in church. They'll sing in groups. They'll sing at any opportunity they get because they are driven to sing. And that's the way it is with art. I always liked doing things I was challenged by. If something didn't work I wouldn't quit. I would just keep trying over and over again."

One of the running themes in all our artist interviews is the value of pursuing a personal sense of vision both fearlessly and joyfully. DeMarcus Shelborne says that a good recipe for this is to have a balanced approach.

DeMarcus Shelborne:
"A lot of my art, at times, even now, currently, I do things, thinking business wise: "What are people going to want?" You know I mean? And you have to do that to an extent but, life is all about balance. So you definitely have to find time for yourself and doing the type of art that not everybody will even understand, or appreciate. Or, maybe they will later. You know? But you gotta stay true to yourself. For sure."

Another common theme this year's artists talked about was about being open to creative inspiration where ever we might find it. Here is painter Geraldine McKeown.

Geraldine McKeown
"For me, and I think I have heard other artists too, we're just always looking at the world, our mind is just always looking at the world as subject matter for a painting. And I told my students this funny story that one day we were taking paintings to Annapolis. and I said to my husband, "Today I don't want to think about art. I just want to go… Let's go in this nice pub and we'll have a nice lunch. I'm just going to tune out from art."

"So we went in and the pub had skylights and the light was falling in on to this beautiful mosaic floor and the wood of the bar... and I was watching the bartender... and I just watched for about a half an hour and I couldn't stand it anymore. Finally I got out my camera and I snuck a few pictures and I asked the bartender if I could use them in my paintings. And, he said yes. So, we just can't tune out of seeing the world as our subject."

Fiber artist Deborah Johnson finds her inspiration in the people she around her.

Deborah Johnson:
"I find faces fascinating. I think it's been a big benefit to me to have lived all over the country. One of my oldest and dearest friends is an Inuit. Her face appears a lot in my work. Now that we're older together, her children's faces appear in my work. And of course my family is just a wonderful tapestry of all different races, so all those face appear in my work, because it is much nicer to weave the faces that you love."

It is not surprising that a performer like singer-songwriter Bryan Russo is inspired by the connection he feels to his audience.

Bryan Russo:
"When you have the audience it's a brilliant thing. There's that moment right after you've finished a song where that last note hits and before the claps start That is the most gratifying, I think, for me. And that moment is what hooked me from the first time I ever played on a stage when I was in third grade, to what I am doing now. And that doesn't matter if it is just a cafeteria with family and friends or a thousand people opening up for a huge legend or a national act. It's that moment before the claps. It's not the claps. It's that moment before."

For Berlin painter Patrick Henry an inquisitive nature has made him one of our more prolific artists.

Patrick Henry:
"I have always walked with this strong inner voice, and I am very curious. I study everything. Travel they have said, really opens the mind of artists. And sure enough it was no way I could come back here and look at those images and not see a few that - I want to try that. I want to go to a realm other than somebody wants me to paint this or that. And just explore..."

Many of our artists talk about how traveling has opened them up in ways that cannot happen just from books, TV, or online imagery. Ocean City photographer Tony Townsend said that his "number one thing" is to inspire people who see his work to travel.

Tony likes to quote St. Augustine: "The world is a book and those who do not travel only read a page."

Where ever your journey takes you in the coming year we hope you will be inspired to make art more a part of your life, whether it is discovering the work of a Delmarva artist, or taking up painting or sculpting yourself; or maybe to simply make one of your new year's resolutions to pursue your life as your own masterpiece. No matter, we wish you a happy and creative 2016.

All that talk of travel inspired me to take a little tour of my home county to create a photographic essay of the many types of architecture you can see here. If you'd like to see my pictures of Worcester County from the sleek high rises of Ocean City to the historic small town charm of Pocomoke, Snow Hill and Berlin, and a sampling of beautiful farm houses in between check out