Reaching the second floor in the stairwell of Blake Hall at Springfield College, students and faculty are met with words of inspiration: “We are not here to do what has already been done.”
On Thursday, Feb. 2, Dr. Margaret Lloyd will reveal her watercolor paintings in a display she titles, “First Light: Inner and Outer Landscapes,” on the second floor of the William Blizard Gallery in Blake Hall, something she has never done.
Branching away from her work as a writer and poet, Lloyd has now discovered painting; an art form she says was an unexpected blessing to her creative career.
The artist began her Springfield College career 25 years ago when she was an associate professor of English. Poetry has always been her central focus, and Lloyd says her writing has become what she is known for.
“People on campus have always known me as a poet,” said Lloyd.
Lloyd worked her way up the ranks at Springfield College to become the chair of the Humanities Department and was acknowledged as the Distinguished Professor of Humanics during the 1996-1997 school year.
Poetry had always been her area of interest and passion, and Lloyd published two books of her own poetry (the first in 1993 and the other in 2007). Lloyd says she has always found poetic inspiration in the landscape of Wales, the country of her ancestry and a place she has visited many times.
“I am haunted by the Welsh landscape; it absolutely calls forth response,” said Lloyd.
Born in Liverpool, England, Lloyd grew up with Welsh as her first language and continues to draw inspiration from her roots.
Poetry consumed much of her early career, but Lloyd skeptically picked up a paintbrush in the summer of 2007 while in Colorado, sending her career down a road she had never expected. While visiting her friends in Crested Butte, Lloyd was admiring the Coloradan mountains as her friends, who were painters, decided to start painting. Her friends insisted that she give it a try, and Lloyd admits she was very hesitant at first.
“I never thought of myself as having any talent or facility in visual art,” said Lloyd. “My friends asked me to paint with them, and I said, ‘There is no way; I’ll hike and you guys can paint.’”
Ultimately, she decided to give it a try, and the artist says the rest is history.
“I got obsessed with painting,” she added.
Since her return from Colorado, Lloyd has found herself with a painting addiction that she now equates with poetry.
“I believe there is a bit of magic in every poem, and I think painting is very similar in that way,” said Lloyd.
Without taking a single painting lesson, Lloyd continues to draw upon her Welsh inspiration and finds that poetry and painting feel like one and the same to her.
“What is coming out of me is what is inside me; that is my process. But what I paint ends up being things that I have seen before,” said Lloyd. “The best poems I have written are the ones that I don’t know where they are going–I discover where the poem is going as I am writing it. Painting is the same way.”
Her exhibition of watercolor paintings in the Blizard Art Gallery is full of images that vary from vibrant sunsets and landscapes, to dramatic mountain ranges and the Welsh countryside that initially inspired her artistic career. Lloyd has even coupled some of her new paintings with poems that she has written. Looking back at her experience in Colorado, Lloyd says she couldn’t have imagined her painting career reaching this point.
“If you would have told me five years ago that I would have an exhibition to show all of my artwork, I would have said there is no way,” said Lloyd. “It is very exciting and moving to have it at Springfield College where I have worked for so long.”
Lloyd remains a poet at heart and says she is in the process of publishing her third book of poetry. Painting came into her life unexpectedly, but Lloyd says her new identity as a visual artist is an exciting step in her career.
“It is a great feeling to have people that I am close with see a whole new side of me,” said Lloyd.
On Feb. 2, at the 4 p.m. reception for her exhibition, Lloyd hopes to share her artwork with a range of Springfield College students and faculty. Creativity is something Lloyd has passed on to her students at Springfield College since 1987, and with her artwork, she hopes she can pass on that inspiration in a brand new way.
“No matter what it is that you are pursuing or what your dreams are, creativity will always be an important part of what it means to be human.”
Sean Seifert may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org