Marilee Beard Campbell was born in Provo, Utah in 1938. She is the great granddaughter of George Beard, pioneer Utah photographer, and an artist known for her pastel work. She lives in Provo, Utah.
Campbell earned a degree in art education from Brigham Young University followed by study at the University of Utah and at the Birmingham Art Association in Detroit. She became interested in pastel as a medium of expression after seeing an Alvin Gittins drawing and taking a class from one of his students in 1964.
Campbell 's work has been honored with awards both nationally and in Utah. In 1988 she earned the Pastel Society of America's top award for exceptional merit. Francis Homestead was selected to appear in the 1992 Utah Arts Council Out of the Land. She was selected as one of the 100 Most Honored Artists in Utah during the 2002 Cultural Olympiad.
Biography adapted from Artist's statement
Marilee Beard Campbell was born June 28, 1938 in Provo, Utah. She is the great-grand daughter of George Beard, a noted pioneer painter and photographer in Utah and the daughter of Ralph Beard, (chainsaw wood sculpture) and Donna Beard (watercolorist).
She studied at Brigham Young University earning a degree in Art Education. She later continued her studies at the University of Utah and the Brigham Art Association in Detroit, Michigan. She also studied with various prominent national artists.
She is selected as one of the “One Hundred Most Honored Artists of Utah“ by the Springville Museum of Art. She is the recipient of the 1988 Pastel Society of America's top award for “Exceptional Merit” ( New York City), Juror's Choice, “Annual April Salon,” Springville Art Museum. (Twice)
Participation in other exhibits of note include; the Springville Art Museum's major exhibit, “One Hundred and Fifty Years of Utah Art, a survey of notable Utah artists from pioneer times to the present, in association with the Cultural Olympiad Arts;“ “B.Y.U. Alumni 100 Exhibition;” the L.D.S. Museum of History and Art Biennial International Exhibit; (several years) Utah, Out of the Land, women's exhibit sponsored by the state of Utah; and the International Association of pastel Societies', Third Biennial Exhibit; the Knickerbocker 45th annual exhibit; the Pastel Society of the West Coast annual exhibit; and Four Women, sponsored by the Utah Arts Council, at the Glendinning Galley and traveling in Utah. (One year) She was a guest artist of the prestigious plein air Painters of America (P.A.P.A) for two years.
Her work has been featured in a number of books and magazines, including; The Best of Pastel and The Best of Pastel 2,Rockport Publishers; Utah Painting and Sculpture, Gibbs Smith Publishing, Utah Artists and various museum catalogs. Work shown in artist's magazines include The Pastel Journal and The Pastel Artist International Magazine.
She is a signature Member of the pastel Society of America and Knicker Artists. Her illustrations for magazines and book covers include the widely known paintings The Lord's Harvest and The Golden Harvest done for the L.D.S Church magazines. Her work is included in a number of private and corporate collections. In her selection as one of Utah's “One Hundred Most Honored Artists,” she was noted as being the “groundbreaking pastellist” in the state.
“I chose to work with hard pastels after seeing Alvin Gittins' figure drawings and taking a class with one of his students at the University of Utah. After realizing the possibilities of working with a single hard pastel on a white paper, I focused on drawing with monochromatic pastels for six more years. This fit in well with my family responsibilities and I could work during children's naps and not worry about brushes and paint drying. At that time there were no soft pastels or pastel papers available for purchase in Utah. When we moved to Detroit, Michigan in 1970, I was able to buy soft pastels and colored Canson papers and this was the beginning of my love affair with pastels.
After years of working with pastels I began to work outdoors—plein air—carrying my large gear out on site to try to capture some of the compelling landscape scenes here in Utah. My gear was oversized because I couldn't bring myself to leave all those luscious colors at home when I went out painting and because I would invariably want something that I knew I had in the studio. I worked out an efficient method of carrying and setting up my gear. My aim was to come back with a completed painting that did not require studio work. Occasionally, I do return the next day at the same time of day, in order to finish, but I usually do a finished painting in one session. It takes a great deal longer to do a painting at home because when an artist is out on site and the light is changing by the minute, it is necessary to have extremely intense concentration and a fast abbreviated form of getting it down on paper or canvas.
Plein air painting requires a big investment of time—years of practice, dogged determination and physical strength. It also requires much time spent in selecting sites, choosing times of day, packing up gear, setting up and emotionally prepared to seize the moment. It is all a gamble for the artist but when it is successful it is a “high” like few other highs. It can be exhilarating and addicting.
If I need to refine the work at home I try to keep the same spontaneity and mood that I felt outdoors. However if I change much of what was painted on the spot the original feeling becomes lost in the process. Painters who demand predictability and absolute control in their work do not do well painting on site. Flexibility and boldness is the key to success.
Plein air painting sharpens observation skills and increases knowledge of the subject. Studio work then becomes richer and more informed. Some of my favorite works are those plein air paintings that use fewer strokes in a kind of calligraphic simplicity, a type of “visual shorthand.” The passion of the moment and the concentration required outdoors helps to achieve this. I choose to keep some of these special plein air paintings in my personal collections at home, rather than send them to galleries for sale, because the experience cannot be repeated in exactly the same way again and I love living with them. They bring back memories for me. I find it easier to part with paintings done from photographs. (My own of course)
My choice of subjects is often related to finding an expression of quiet peace and joy. This is probably because life does not always supply an abundance of those qualities.
Because I have not needed to support a family with my art I have been free to paint what I love most. This most often includes the Utah landscape, with its arid climate and clear, bright colors, the rural and farm scene, the desert in all its starkness, mountain wildflowers, ponds and marshy areas. These are all related to my childhood memories growing up in this area.
I don't believe that, “landscape painting is dead,” as claimed by one critic. The landscape is very, much a large part of life in the west and is so present in every day life that it affects many other aspects of a person's life. Colors seem brighter, lighter and sharper here than in areas where the high humidity and more muted, grayed colors seem to dominate. When we lived in Europe for six months, I became aware that there were no “real” cast shadows in the landscape and that everything had a softer more elusive feeling—which has its own charm, but I love the bold, brassy clarity of the desert environment.
My happiest memories are of being out in nature, hearing the sounds of birds and running water and focusing on one selected scene for hours at a time. When studying directly, with no mechanical gadgets between yourself and the source, its as if nature reveals its' quiet secrets a small bit at a time.
I see musical rhythm and movement, as well as drama and theatre in landscape. When sunlight breaks through the clouds, it becomes a wonderful, warm spotlight moving silently across a stage. I love being there! It has been a spiritual experience for me one that I value highly for the personal growth it has brought into my life.
Art fulfills a variety of important roles in society. Painting for me is however an act of love. In spite much strife on the world, I see peace and joy in life and hope to have that be apparent in my work.”
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Biography courtesy the artist.
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