Thursday, July 7th, 2011
By Janie Southard
Painter has always been an artist at heart
  ST. MARYS - Artist Marjorie Stienecker's one-woman exhibit featuring watercolors of local landmarks, people and historic scenes begins Friday at Arts Place in St. Marys.
Her launch into the world of art came early on her family's farm east of St. Marys.
"I always loved art. When I was in the first or second grade, I'd draw characters from the funny papers, like Dagwood or the Katzenjammer Kids. Of course, I couldn't use good paper because Dad said that was wasteful; so I cut up grocery bags for my painting," Stienecker, now 80-something, recalled during an interview at Otterbein St. Marys Retirement Community, where she is a resident and art teacher.
Her artist's life has been hills-and-valleys, including long periods when she didn't paint at all for various reasons.
"I remember I couldn't wait to get to high school so I could take the only art course offered as a junior. But when I finally got there, the art teacher was called to serve in the war (WWII)," she said. "So I missed out."
She ended her high school years with her love of art in tact but with no formal training. In fact, she was not to have her own real paint set for several more years.
"When my kids were in the lower grades of school, they asked what I wanted for Christmas. I told them I'd love to have a little set of oil paints with all the basic colors and some brushes," she said.
And she was delighted to receive just that.
She gathered up calendars, various pictures and began painting her own reproductions with the new set. But it wasn't too long before her husband (the late Virgil) developed an allergy to the smell of turpentine. That was a setback in her painting, and so were the 22 years (1965-87) she spent working full time at Goodyear in St. Marys.
"Like a lot of people, there were things I wanted to do but couldn't afford. Working at Goodyear, I had the money to take some art classes, but I had no time to do it," Stienecker said.
She and some artist friends eventually heard about art classes in Van Wert given by New York artist Frank Liljegren.
"He fine tuned what I had already figured out and gave me some good hints. But those classes in Van Wert were the only formal training I've had," said Stienecker, whose specialty is watercolor.
She added that she also dabbles in oils and has come to appreciate the versatility of pastels.
"They blend so nicely," she explained.
Awards and honors for her work are abundant, including many bests of show.
Her collection for the Arts Place show includes 12 paintings featuring area subjects, such as the old train station, the canal boat, the clock tower, covered bridge and a scene of downtown St. Marys in the 1930s.
"Mostly I work from photographs or what catches my eye, but I rarely paint outside anymore. For one thing, the watercolor dries too fast and often there are little bugs and such blowing around," she said. "For a time I had some health problems, but now I'm feeling good again and paint nearly every day."
Her advice to aspiring painters is to "draw, draw, draw."
"If you can draw, you can paint. Frank (Liljegren) said he kept his students drawing for seven years until he allowed them to actually paint," she said."Well, that's a long time, but drawing is probably the key."

If you go:
What: An exhibit of paintings by St. Marys artist Marjorie Stienecker
When: Friday through Sept. 27, with an artist reception 7-9 p.m. Friday
Where: Arts Place Collective Center, 138 E. Spring St., St. Marys  
Gallery hours: 4-8 p.m Mondays -Thursdays
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