Monday, January 19, 2015

Artist holds her breath for "Birds in Art"

The masked bee eater puts Vickie McMillan in mind of her childhood sword-wielding hero, Zorro. That’s her title for the vivid painting of this blue- and green-feathered bird wearing the black mask nature provided. While the background is an impressionistic blend of more blue and green, eyes focus on the detail in the features of the bird perched on a branch. She holds her breath with each paint stroke of her focal point.
Benign tremors make her hand shake, so she literally stops her breathing to steady herself to paint main subjects. That’s how she conquered her condition, “instead of quitting painting,” McMillan said.
The painting is part of the prestigious  2014 “Birds in Art” exhibition featured at Museum of the Gulf Coast through Feb. 8. It features diverse works from the world over, and McMillan, of The Woodlands, near Houston, said she was thrilled to be included. Artists strive to be chosen for the internationally renowned “Birds in Art” exhibition, organized annually by the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum in Wausau, Wisconsin. McMillan travels to Africa to photograph and paint wildlife.
“I love nature. If I can capture one little brief moment of the beauty, I feel so full,” she said.
I enjoyed hearing this artist discuss her passion and enjoyed other colorful works in the show as well. Artworks in the 2014 exhibition feature birds preening, resting on unexpected perches, engaging in mischief and more. I love what a couple of sculpted birds have done to a typewriter ribbon.
A 132-page full-color, illustrated “Birds in Art” catalogue featuring every work along with artists’ statements is available for purchase. For more information, visit, email the Museum at, or call 409-982-7000.
Volunteer for Mardi Gras
A little birdie, and Facebook, told me that Mardi Gras of Southeast Texas needs volunteers. Who wouldn’t want to be part of Port Arthur’s big weekend and helping people celebrate? The Krewe of Volunteers is looking for some help on Mardi Gras weekend, February 12-15. Volunteering is fun and you don't have to be a Krewe member to get involved, so invite your friends and family, they say.
Time in a ticket booth, or serving beverages while watching everyone go by in purple, gold and green should cheer anyone.

Contact Lisa New at 409-721-8717 or if you'd like to know more.
Darragh Doiron can be reached at

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