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Margot Dermody - multipassionate visual artist

Pittsburgh, PA / United States

Website | Instagram

Margot, you are a self-taught visual artist who’s been exposed to art since a very young age thanks to your mother. You’ve been creating art for over 30 years. Can you tell us all about your journey into the art world?

I have been creative since I was young. My mom took us to many museums, musical performances, churches, and historical places in Washington D.C. and Europe. She was passionate about the arts and studied art and began painting when she was home with her young children. My artistic interests growing up were ceramics, photography, cooking, sewing, music, and performance arts. I mostly composed intuitively and was curious to experiment. I was an adventurer and an explorer as a child, climbing trees, riding bikes, and exploring the outdoors. Being free in nature was my preference, but I am grateful that I was exposed to arts and culture.

I did not choose an art career path when I was a young adult. I always dreamed of traveling and saw myself in business. So after college, I worked for hotels in sales and marketing for about ten years in New York City and Boston. Some of the properties I worked for were the New York Statler, the Drake, Sam Lords Castle with Marriott (a resort in Barbados), and the Colonnade in Boston. I left hotels for a short side-step in telecommunications for an opportunity in training and development.

After having my two children in Boston, we moved to Nashville when they were 1 and 3 years old, and I started teaching at Belmont University. Shortly after, I became Director of Hospitality Management, where I designed courses and programs for students and mentored students to work in the industry and start their careers. I also published several articles on the hospitality industry in academic journals. This position allowed me to be creative and a valued faculty contributor. During this time, I took a watercolor course at the Cheekwood Botanical Gardens and started painting. I also began collecting art with a focus on local artists, dreaming that one day I would have a full-time art career.

My entrepreneurial spirit called me back into business, and I left academics to work in real estate. This transition felt like coming home, as I was in transient accommodations (hotels) and now permanent accommodations (homes). I loved the freedom of this path and enjoyed helping my clients find and sell homes. I had ample opportunities to use my creativity and intuition to help direct business efforts. I developed the vision, “Blending the Business and Art of Real Estate,” which I applied to my business practice.

Throughout this period in Nashville, I began to establish a foundation for a full-time art practice with the time dedicated to making and exploring art. My love of art, paintings and sculpture, grew. As I dreamed, I planned future compositions. When we had the opportunity to move to Pittsburgh, I knew the direction that I wanted to go, into the arts, to have a full-time practice as an artist.

After we moved to Pittsburgh, I took courses at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts to refresh art techniques. This is when the art journey as a professional artist began for me. I became a member of Radiant Hall, a community of artists with working studios, and started my daily art practice. The next step was showing my work, applying to juried shows, and selling my work. I love to create and connect with others. And to share my art is the ultimate thrill, as it lives with people in different spaces.

You lived in Italy when you were a teenager and you learned Italian. It’s a country famous for delicious cuisine and stylish clothing. What was that experience like for young Margot?

It was amazing and definitely changed my outlook growing up. I did not speak the language during my first few months of school, and that was hard. The summers after when we lived on the Adriatic Sea were incredible experiences for me. I made friends, my first Italian boyfriend, enjoyed teenage life at the beach, and learned to live life to its fullest. I loved everything Italian, fashion, fresh cuisine and markets, espresso, even wine!

You hold BA in Economics and M.P.S. in Hotel Administration. You’ve lived, worked and travelled all over the place. What was the turning point in your life that you realized art is the right path for you?

Deep down, I knew it after I started painting when my kids were young, and I dreamed of becoming an artist. However, the turning point was not until we decided to move to Pittsburgh when my husband had a great job opportunity. I chose to leave real estate and dedicate my time to making art. This was the real defining point when I knew art was the right path and I needed to show up, learn, and grow as an artist.

You are a mixed media artist who loves to use different techniques. What is your most favorite medium? Can you describe your art practice and process?

I don’t really have favorite mediums, it’s more of my choice for the day. I started painting with watercolor and loved the fluidity and transparency of the paint. I now enjoy working with acrylic paint, as it is versatile, water-based, and suits my quickness in layering with movement. Mixed media has been fun for me as well, to work with photography, collage, acrylic, spray paint, and oil. And recently learning to work with glass has been amazing. It is a material, like water, that goes from liquid to solid. I hope to combine glass and painting for some new mixed-media work.

My art practice is intuitive. I get ideas and prefer to develop a series for a cohesive body of work. I enjoy working with multiple projects and to wait for the creative moments.

What was the most exciting moment in your art career-so far?

When I was selected to be in the 107th Annual Exhibition and to become a member of the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh. I was so excited, honored, and grateful. My sons travelled to be with us for the opening night. The exhibition was at the beautiful Westmoreland Museum of American Art.

What inspires you the most?

Nature, all things outdoors, the beauty of light and color in sunrises and sunsets, and the love of animals. I am an equestrian and enjoy riding horses. The flow, movement, and reflection of water, swimming, beaches, lakes, ponds. This is where I get my energy to create!

What’s the message behind your art?

Feelings of love and light and daily work to live in a positive mindset and space. My art is about how I choose to live my life today, the daily practice of bringing in light and keeping it fresh. And the courage it takes to find light and love with all the uncertainty that surrounds us.

What does your art do for you?

Creating art is my ultimate happy hour. Sharing art with others is like a fine dining experience, delicious and satisfying.

What are your dreams, plans and goals?

To make my art with ease and confidence and let my real feelings shine through. To show my art to the world and share my heart and soul. I love to see my art live in different spaces and enjoy sharing it with others. I also want to help other artists with creativity, business and marketing skills, and help them sell their work.

What is your advice to fellow art mums?

Be patient and loving with yourself. Do the hard things, one day at a time. Life is filled with uncertainty, and it is important to have tools to navigate the rough spots. All good and bad times will pass. Be adaptable. Prepare and show up.

Live in the present as much as possible, instead of worrying about the past and future. Learn how to slow down, meditate, listen, and enjoy the journey. Always be creative and let yourself explore like a kid no matter where you are in life. Celebrate, have fun, and be the light!

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