April 19, 2018
Arts & Entertainment
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  • Printed on paste paper are the words “Beneath the Sea.” The “seaweed” skirting the pages was made from yarn and hot glue.
    Photo by Zach Sparks
    Printed on paste paper are the words “Beneath the Sea.” The “seaweed” skirting the pages was made from yarn and hot glue.
  • Joan Machinchick’s watercolor paintings showcase landscapes, from canyons and mountains to dairy sheds.
    Photo Provided
    Joan Machinchick’s watercolor paintings showcase landscapes, from canyons and mountains to dairy sheds.
  • This painting by Joan Machinchick was inspired by Damariscove Island in Maine.
    Photo Provided
    This painting by Joan Machinchick was inspired by Damariscove Island in Maine.

Cape Artist Is A Master Of Many Media

Zach Sparks
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View Bio
February 6, 2018

In Joan Machinchick’s Lake Claire Design Studio, watercolor paintings jut from a wall, custom-designed wedding stationery dots a table and iridescent books are tucked into open drawers. Now, though, she’s most eager to promote Marianne Taylor’s book “My River Speaks: The History and Lure of the Magothy River,” which is now being released for its third run.

Machinchick estimated that she has 100 pieces of work in the book, which was originally published in 1998. Many of those works are maps and photos, but some are pen-and-ink illustrations: a log canoe, two men on a pier telling fish tales, Indians kneeling on the shore as they watch the sun rise.

“I did have to use some imagination where there was no reference material,” admitted Machinchick, whose involvement stemmed from her professional relationship with Pat Troy, owner of Bay Media Inc.

Machinchick said the second printing included an index and the third printing is higher quality, better showcasing Taylor’s extensive research.

“It’s researched almost back to prehistoric times, from woodland Indians to early settlers,” Machinchick said. “There’s a lot of history and a whole section on how the river is today compared to the last century. It has some folklore things and ghost stories that may or may not be true.”

While the Cape St. Claire artist is excited about “My River Speaks” and her contribution, it’s hardly her only artistic endeavor. An honors graduate of Maryland Institute College of Art, she pursued a career in graphics and illustration. As a member of the Washington Calligraphers Guild, she has traveled all over the country for week-long conferences, learning how to do much more than screen-print invitations and mount them on fancy paper.

“It was very hard work, very detailed, and my clients were wonderful,” Machinchick said of her calligraphy business.

During that time, she also provided monthly maps for Chesapeake Bay Magazine. Areas included Delaware Bay and Cape Henlopen, the Potomac River and the Rappahannock River in Virginia, among others.

Her watercolor paintings — spanning from the Cascade mountain range in Washington to a Goshen Farm dairy shed in Cape St. Claire — have beautified the walls of Woods Church and Benfield Gallery in Severna Park, Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts and Quiet Waters Park in Annapolis, and several other locations.

Many of those works have won awards, including “Quarry,” an abstract piece that notched second place and People’s Choice in Benfield Gallery’s 2017 exhibit “Influence of Erika Walsh.”

Machinchick’s process starts with an idea or reference photo. “I let the painting develop and take itself where it wants to go,” she said.

Fascinated by the book designers of the 1960s and 1970s, she has even found a way to merge her art with descriptive language.

Inside a collection of poems by Ebby Malmgren, Machinchick added blackbirds fluttering on the pages. Machinchick has also created her own books. An accordion book called “Night Wind” is presented in a violet box, the pages plastered with her prose. “Whistles threw chinks in the old homestead,” one page says.

PaperWorks: The Sonoran Collective for Paper and Book Artists sponsored a contest at the 2012 Tucson Book Fair, at which “Night Wind” won two accolades: the Donn Sanford Award for best artist's book with original text, and People's Choice. It also received an honorable mention in a Maryland Federation of Art exhibit at Quiet Waters Park in 2013.

Printed on paste paper are the words of another book, “Beneath the Sea.” The “seaweed” skirting the pages was made from yarn and hot glue.

“There is a whole genre of books made by artists,” Machinchick said. “They’re not books about artists. It’s a whole medium in itself, like a sculpture, where the book itself is the art.”

The multitalented artist also makes calendars, but one of her next roles involves helping others. In June, she will take over as exhibitions chair at Annapolis Watercolor Club.

“I believe I need to do something, no matter what it is, to give back to the community. If you’re going to be part of the community, you should contribute to it, and that may be cleaning up after the spaghetti dinner. The world would be a completely different place without volunteers.”

“My River Speaks: The History and Lure of the Magothy River” is sold at The Cottage in Park Plaza, Angel’s Food Market in Pasadena and at www.baymed.com.


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