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Twinsburg artist has a way with birds

by Gina Mace | Reporter Published: August 31, 2016 12:00 AM

Twinsburg -- Artist Maureen Farley didn't see many birds while living in the Nevada desert.

So when the occasional California quail flew through town, Farley committed it to memory and then to canvas.

What Nevada does possess that Ohio lacks are wild horses, which Farley loved to paint, draw and collage.

A selection of Farley's bird and animal art and abstract assemblages are on display at the Twinsburg Public Library until Aug. 31.

Farley and her husband, Richard Farley, moved to Twinsburg four years ago.

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Her first encounter with an Ohio cardinal was just after the move.

"I didn't know anyone, didn't have a phone or a TV," she said. "I looked outside and there she was."

In a new house in a new state and with her husband away at his new job, Farley was trying hard not to feel lonely.

Like the California quail, Farley studied the bird perched on a tree branch in her yard. Then she set out to recreate Ohio's state bird.

As an artist, Farley is adaptable, using whatever medium lends itself to the piece she decides to create, although she says she prefers mixed media.

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The cardinal, one of the pieces in the library display, is a collage using sheet music paper and water colors. Another piece on display at the library is a dove in flight, also a collage, for which she used a map of Ohio.

At first glance, it's hard to see anything but the beautiful pictures the specialized paper has become. But a closer look at the cardinal reveals a musical note here and there. Inspect the dove to find part of Twinsburg peeking out from the watercolor on the right wing, and Stark, Madison and Lafayette counties on the bird's underside.

The cardinal returned to Farley's yard days later, this time with a mate. Farley named them Romeo and Juliet and captured their visit with colored pencil and water color paint.

"I find water color very challenging," Farley said. "I love the freedom of mixed. Acrylic is my favorite. With those, there are no rules. With water color, you have rules."

She also makes assemblages, gathering unrelated objects like with glass, acrylic paint and other materials to make art.

Farley says she can't remember a time when she wasn't drawing.

"My earliest memories are being on a floor, drawing pictures of horses," she said.

As part of an Irish Catholic family, her grandmother asked her to give up something for Lent when she was 6 years old.

"I gave up drawing horses," Farley said. "My grandmother caught me drawing deer."

After having her first child, Farley packed away her art and didn't pick it up again for 13 years.

"I get so involved and focused on whatever I'm working on, my son was crying and I didn't even hear him," she said.

Today, it isn't unusual for her to start working on an art project -- her cats are often her muses -- when her husband leaves for work and still be focused when he returns home.

"My husband has asked, 'Are we going to have acrylic paint for dinner?'" Farley said, adding that her husband is very understanding.

Farley's art has earned the Carson Valley Award for an acrylic painting titled Lampe Park; and first place in the Nevada Art Association show for Two Horses in the Summer Time.

Those who miss her display at the Twinsburg Public Library can catch her shows at the Festival of the Pooka in Bedford Sept. 16 and 17; and Artisans Marketplace Oct. 15 at the Middleburgh Heights Community Center.

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