After presenting her debut Dan’s Papers cover art on our July 22, 2022 issue, Wendy McLaughlin returns to discuss her second cover — a festive depiction of the iconic Big Duck in Flanders.
A Conversation with Wendy McLaughlin
What is the name of this piece, and what inspired you to paint The Big Duck?
The painting is called: “Iconic Long Island Big Duck in Flanders, NY Decorated For The Winter Holidays.” I was inspired to paint The Big Duck sculpture because it is an interesting symbol from the history of Eastern Long Island duck farming. I considered painting it during various seasons, but decided it was so attractive adorned for the winter holidays.
What did the creation process for this particular painting entail?
My husband and I visited The Big Duck and took photos in August of this year. We liked the late summer floral displays around the duck that day; but were impressed with the photo by Friends of the Duck during the holiday lighting in 2021, which I based my watercolor painting on.
What do you enjoy most about the painting process?
Watching a blank canvas/surface come to life. Being surprised during the process of making a painting how the painting takes over my creative process. I may start out thinking one thing, and it gets expanded upon during the doing. Painting for me has increased my observational skills, resulting in seeing all the potential scenes around me still waiting to be painted.
How do your art inspirations shift in the winter?
The winter light and skyscapes are beautiful with their dramatic cloud formations. Snow adds its own changes to the seascapes and landscapes. It can be the sparkle of the snow and how it reflects light from the moon or sun. Tree and shrub branches become lacey works of art in the winter. The whirling snowfalls and winter storms can be an inspiration for me.
What do you enjoy most about the holiday season on the East End?
The many small churches offering holiday candle-lit services and programs. The abundant acts of charity in our communities. The winter and holiday markets, local holiday parades, the first snow fall, visiting the many shops throughout the East End offering handcrafted holiday products. Driving around and looking at the light displays.
Looking back on 2022, what’s something you learned about your art or about yourself as an artist?
I learned about the book Art & Fear: Observations On the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking by David Bayles and Ted Orland. The book really speaks to my challenges and struggles to keep motivated to study, paint, and to continue to be persistent in my artistic endeavors. Painting and crafting can often be hard work that can gnaw at your confidence — but then surprise you with its rewards.
Would you like to add any closing thoughts or additional info?
Believe in yourself and be open to learning from opportunities that come your way. I have met many wonderful new people through my artwork. I plan to continue to evolve in my work and am grateful that Dan’s Papers considers my work worthy of their cover. I send my wishes for an inspired and joyous holiday to everyone. Please go to wjm-art.com to see more of my work.
Local artists who believe their art would be a good fit for a Dan’s Papers cover may send high-resolution works to [email protected] for consideration. If one of your pieces is chosen in the weeks that follow, you’ll be contacted about the confirmation and your Honoring the Cover Artist feature.