When First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe decided she wanted a different sort of Christmas card this year—not her usual photo of the kids but a painting of the Governor’s Mansion and the family dogs instead—the obvious resource was VMFA’s Studio School. Mrs. McAuliffe’s executive assistant, Victoria Lewkow, headed to the Studio School to talk to director, Mary Holland, about local artist recommendations. As luck with have it, the Studio School was exhibiting faculty work that day, giving Victoria a great selection of styles from which to choose. She spotted a snow scene by instructor and painter Marjorie Perrin, which she thought the First Lady might like, and sure enough, Mrs. McAuliffe loved the artist’s suggestive style. She chose Marjorie to paint a snowy landscape of their impressive Federal-style home, with dogs Finnegan and Daisy in the foreground.
“I arrived at the Governor’s Mansion with my digital camera and a bag of dog cookies, not knowing what to expect. The dogs and I quickly made friends,” says Marjorie. After taking approximately 200 photos from multiple exposures and angles, the artist worked from about 10 photos to create the actual painting. Since it was a sunny fall day when she created the painting, she had to call on her memory of doing plein air paintings in the snow—and a little imagination—to get the snow part right.
The final painting, which took about a month to complete, was very well-received by the First Family. According to Victoria, “The painting is resting on an easel in the Ladies’ Parlor of the mansion for all to see. The Governor, in fact, brought the painting downstairs himself. Both the Governor and First Lady love it!”
The resulting Christmas card was sent to a long list of 5,000. That’s quite an honor for artist Marjorie Perrin and the entire VMFA Studio School.