Local Artist’s Career Is ‘In Full Bloom’ Article & Photography Susan Motley
irsten McGannon counts herself among the growing number of women who are embarking on new ventures in their “second chapter” of life. For McGannon, that meant turning her lifelong passion for art into a business and she began selling her oil, acrylic and mixed media abstract paintings. “I’m attracted to bright, energetic colors and the interplay between large fields and washes of color and the thin filament and direction of line,” she says. “My work is inspired by nature, but it’s more about an attempt to convey my feelings - a sense of joy, serenity, or curiosity.” McGannon’s love of art started at a young age. She has fond memories of wandering through the Nelson-Atkins Museum with her aunt, Annemarie Hunter, who ran the children’s programs there. “She’s an amazing artist and beautiful person who inspires me to this day,” McGannon explains. “I remember when ‘Sacred Circles’ came to the Nelson and she showed me how to draw the ancient horse that was the exhibit’s centerpiece. It was the first time I knew the thrill of being an artist.”
22 Johnson County Lifestyle | March 2014
McGannon grew up in Johnson County, graduated from Shawnee Mission East, and went to the University of Missouri. She hoped to major in Fine Arts but her parents convinced her to get a more marketable degree. She chose advertising. But she’s never stopped painting. “In college, I had the opportunity to study in Aix-en-Provence, France, for a semester,” McGannon says. “Aix is the home of Paul Cezanne, and I spent many beautiful afternoons standing in front of the motifs he painted. I studied at the Leo Marschutz School of Painting, which was founded by students of Cezanne.” “I remember walking through the countryside carrying my easel and paints. I felt like I was living in a postcard or an old movie. It was a very special and influential time in my life.” Back in the real world, McGannon enjoyed a 20-year career in advertising. Seven years ago she
quit her job to stay home with her children and was able to focus on painting again. She was fortunate to study with Kansas City artist Philomene Bennett, along with other regional and national artists such as colorists Casey Klahn and Ken Elliott. Bennett knew what it was like to be a mother and a painter, as she used to work in her garage so she could watch her children as they played outside.
March 2014 Issue of Johnson County Lifestyle