Interview with a Friend and MTWS Benefactor: Margo Voermans
Fellow artists, I want you to know we have a remarkable woman among us, and she’s been with us from the very early days of MTWS. Though not a Montana Watercolor Society founding member, she joined early and has stayed with the society for these many years, pitching in during the worst of times and celebrating and supporting us in the best of times. She’s been vitally important to this society, yet only a rare few of us know very much about her. It is with deepest respect for her that I conduct this interview with just a few open questions.
To begin, I ask our members: do you know that during Margo Voermans’ last and very busy term as MTWS President she also coordinated the job of Watermedia Chair along with the already demanding tasks of the presidency (including editing the quarterly newsletter and the Watermedia catalog)? The truth is that she is the central figure to be credited with the saving MTWS when it came within months of ending operations at that time (2015-2016) due to lack of volunteers to fill critical positions. This society is so dear to her that she stepped out of her retirement to volunteer once again. Her example inspired many of us. The society is thriving today as numerous willing and able volunteers have appeared in her wake.
MTWS: Margo Voermans, please share with us, if you will, your personal journey as an artist and especially how you first came to be part of the Montana Watercolor Society.
Margo: I have always had a high interest in art. If I had had time in college, I would have taken art classes! As it was, after graduation I would always go to museums and galleries. I really enjoyed living in Europe for 6 years and being able to explore the living areas of the great artists and visit all the cities and towns. Later in my career I was back in Missoula, Montana, and any extra time I had was spent working for the good of the members in teacher organizations. Then finally, in 1996 I decided to dive in, and I joined MTWS and started taking workshops and painting. I chose watercolor instead of oils, because I didn't like the smell of oils. Thanks to Nancy Beelman, I was included in get-togethers and local shows which was a remarkable experience. I was "hooked".
I found that I needed to schedule a "show" at least once a year. I talked Vickie Johnson into sharing the experience with me. We liked having a show locally so we would have a goal and get together a body of work. If I didn't schedule a show, I was not very prolific.
MTWS: How long did it take you to get drawn into the workings of the society?
Margo: Not long. Originally I started by sending out the Prospectus for the Watermedia Show that was held here in Missoula at the Museum in the early days. Back then, MTWS tried to rotate around the state so we held Watermedia Exhibitions in Helena, Great Falls, Billings, and Kalispell.....
MTWS: What do you love the most about your years as a member and leader of MTWS?
Margo: I love the friendships I have made! Being able to learn and grow with like-minded people is wonderful! We can be exchanging ideas over a brown-bag lunch or doing a Show and Share..... it is all so wonderful !
MTWS: Has your style of painting changed or evolved over these past 25 years?
Margo: One of the things I am certain about is my willingness to try anything has been a happy adventure, but it also kept me from being really good at a "style". I find Abstract the most challenging and Experimental the most fun. I also enjoy Realism because the product is something I can usually give away to friends. My love of traveling in the Far East lead me to Chinese Brush Painting which is very exacting and precise. I really enjoy the process.
MTWS: Many, many thanks to you, Margo Voermans. You have meant the world to MTWS and to all your friends here.
MTWS Offices served by Margo Voermans…. 2002 - 2005 Secretary 2006 Vice President 2007 - 2009 President 2009 - 2011 Co President with Vickie Johnson 2012 Ex Officio 2016 - 2018 President & Watermedia Chair 2018 - 2019 Ex Officio
And… in addition to all the above, she has served on various MTWS committees over the years. She presently serves as MTWS Historian.
Watermedia Workshops taught: Members Workshop in Lewistown - Alternate Surfaces Members Workshop in Lewistown - East Meets West Members Workshop in Lewistown – Yupo
Margo Voermans has also given financially. Margo has for many years sponsored the Voermans Award for the Watermedia Show. The amount of the award began at $100 and has risen to $150 in recent years. Beginning in 2019 she has also sponsored an "Artist of Merit" during Western Art Week in Great Falls (held each March in honor of Montana’s Charlie Russell) as part of the MTWS presence there.
Jean Hand Triol, MTWS
East Meets West workshop
Acrylic pour Yupo paper
Past President Michele Beck has been a MTWS member since 2002 and says she lives in the wilds of Montana, for now… As an officer, she has worked in every capacity and in every way to make MTWS a success. Or as she might put it, “Worn many hats!” We have all benefited from her dedication and terrific skills of organizing, coordinating and her vast computer knowledge as well as her calm, cheerful personality. When asked about her influences and inspirations, Michele responded “Long ago in a print class, my project was of a flower and the instructor said to look up Georgia O’Keefe and I did. I have read just about everything written about her, videos, and even traveled to her New Mexico place of inspiration. Now that the web is available, there are so many other inspirational links, although I would have to say going back to nature is the key to all that I create because of my passion for hiking and being in the outdoors” Connect the heart and soul with mind and brush before beginning is a basic philosophy of her artwork. Currently, Michele is in the middle of a series of whimsical portraits of dogs, cats, horses which are taking up her studio time.
Michele as always wants to keep expanding on what learning lessons come her way and to continue to experiment. A long range art goal would be to make a living from creating.