Maggie Vandewalle discusses her roots as an artist.
Iowa-native artist Maggie Vandewalle is well known for her fantastical and picturesque illustrations of the natural environment. Several of her paintings, including Egress and The Battle at Flynn’s Patch have been displayed in Chattanooga’s Area 61 Gallery.
Vandewalle evokes scenes with an artistic style that ranges from colorful and whimsical, reminiscent of John Tenniel’s illustrations in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, to moonlit and moody. What ties her pieces together is a view of the natural world through imaginative eyes.
“When I was a kid I was either outside or reading,” Vandewalle shared. “Inspiration comes from all over the place…I’m drawn to the small hidden or overlooked places in nature and what they might contain, not so much the grand landscapes. I also draw a lot from the books I’ve read or am reading.”
Storytelling is a key element in Vandewalle’s paintings. Early in her life, she gained an appreciation for how stories and illustrations can complement one another.
“I knew that I either wanted to be a writer or an artist. Because I didn’t have the patience to work my way through a storyline, I focused on art,” she said.
“I like to think that my pieces evoke a story without me really telling one, hinting at a world just slightly out of step with our own,” she continued. “Nothing is included by accident; the details are intentional and give meaning to the whole.”
From doodling as a child to getting her BFA in printmaking at the University of Iowa, Vandewalle has spent her entire life creating and sharing art. She offered some insights to emerging artists who might be looking to have their work featured in galleries.
“Have a consistent body of work, know the value of it, and research the gallery before approaching it,” she said. “Know the submission process, know the type of work a gallery typically carries, and whether your work is a good fit.”