Marcia Cline’s paintings are celebratory. Working with a vibrant palette and energetic strokes she interprets her world that is fueled by gratitude. The 56-year-old Nags Head artist opens a one-person show at the Dare County Arts Council in November, where she will showcase a variety of paintings including en plein air landscapes and seascapes for which she is known.
It’s no surprise that Cline, a painter of 25 years, has a following on the Outer Banks. She uses her lively style, a cross between Expressionism and Impressionism, to paint her surroundings, working to capture vanishing pieces of the much loved Outer Banks. Her paintings resonate with a coastal spirit and a welcoming generosity presented by an artist madly in love with her paint and life itself.
Oil is her favored medium, says Cline, who brings to her work a BFA from UNC-Wilmington. “I love oil paint. It’s just beautiful, and I used to think of it as more kind of bad environmentally, but now I think plastic is more detrimental,” Cline says. “The paint is just so delicious and luxurious. You can do anything with it.”
Cline works onsite to capture the essence of her subjects such as beach cottages, bridges crossing sound and inlet waters, piers, marsh, fields, sea and people. She’s painted Greek architecture and countryside. She’s also done studies of her children, Jewel and Hart, as well as paintings of local folk working in the Outer Banks scene. Sometimes Cline captures a painting in one sitting, or returns a few times to complete it. She may begin onsite and finish the work in her studio with the help of photographs.
A yoga teacher, Cline stands with spine straight to paint or draw. “I can stand back,” she says, which can lend perspective on her painting in progress. Working onsite brings life to painting as the artist experiences the atmosphere, the light, the scents and sights. Using a warm palette and avoiding cool colors and black, Cline keeps her hues fresh. She’s not a straight out-of-the-tube painter, mixing every color herself that brings a signature touch to her work. Zinc white is a favorite for mixing. Transparent red is her go-to for tinting.
Cline has been painting on and off since she was a child. She experimented with different mediums, but settled on oil painting more than two decades ago. On top of her degree from Wilmington that focused on batik and printmaking, she has studied with influential painters, such as James Kerr, Patricia Kordas, Renata Keep, John De la Vega and John Silver.
A dedicated mother, Cline says she hasn’t been able to paint as much as she would like, then adds: “But it’s OK because you do other stuff, and that comes out in your painting.”
She has a small study on her easel of Uppowac, a 16th century Native American that her son played in the dramatic musical “The Lost Colony” this summer on Roanoke Island. She’s looking forward to doing more portraits of people she works with and of her family. “But not like typical portraits,” she says. “I want to be able to capture somebody’s essence — their them-ness.”
“And the ocean, I have been having fun with the ocean,” she says. “I’ve been doing a lot more stormy oceans the last few years.”
Cline has also had her eye on the majestic bridges of the Outer Banks from the small temporary bridge on Hatteras Island to the expansive spans crossing the sounds. She has two paintings of the Oregon Inlet bridge in her current work portfolio on her website, marciacline.com, where you can browse through her latest paintings and her archives to get an idea of what captures her attention.
“My life feeds my art so I use all of it,” she says. “But I need time and space in nature and outside. I need space to breath.”
As Cline’s website reveals: “Her style cannot be separated from her reverence and connectedness to the area, traveling, surfing, and yoga. That being said, Marcia’s true roots are her family.”
A humble woman who hesitates to talk about herself, Cline paints to communicate all these loves. Expressive and energetic, her paintings speak volumes.
Mary Ellen Riddle has been writing the Coast’s art column for more than 20 years and brings to her work a BFA in painting from East Carolina University and a profound passion for the role the arts play in society.