By Mike Mortensen
LACONIA — You could say that Amy Prendergast was born to be an artist, but it has taken decades for that innate gift to reach full flower.
Prendergast recalls how her mother remembered Amy picking up a pencil and doodling when she was still a toddler. "I've been drawing ever since I could remember," she said.
Her interest in art continued, and by the time she reached high school in Rumford, Maine, it had grown to the point that she was asked to paint three murals for the school.
But for Prendergast, who describes herself as a lifelong entrepreneur, other interests and projects occupied her time. She has run a home-cleaning business, and for a time operated a hair salon.
But now Prendergast is giving her time almost exclusively over to her art.
"Art is my biggest passion and my outlet," said Prendergast who has turned a back room in her Dolloff Street home into a studio.
A self-taught artist who readily admits that her talent is developing — "The more I paint, the more I will evolve as an artist" — finds herself drawn to subjects in which water plays a prominent role in the scene.
It was just such a painting, one featuring her bikini-clad niece admiring the water cascading over Profile Falls in Bristol, which recently won the People's Choice award at an exhibit sponsored by the Lakes Region Artist Association. The painting, titled "My Zen," remains on display at the VynnArt Gallery on Main Street in Meredith through Aug. 2.
The use of the word "zen" — sometimes defined as a total state of focus that incorporates a total togetherness of body and mind — in the painting provides a key to understanding how Prendergast gets her artistic inspiration.
"It gives me a zen feeling when I paint water," she said.
Another one of Prendergast's recent works is "Wave," which shows a wave crashing on the shore. That painting, which won an Artist of the Month award, is now on exhibit at the Laconia Public Library through the middle of August.
Prendergast credits the Lakes Region Artists Association with supporting artists such as herself. The group gives artists a way to network with others, and Prendergast finds the organization's monthly workshops extremely helpful.
For Prendergast the best way to improve artwork is to keep painting, and especially to create pieces to capture a moment that have deep meaning for her personally.
Prendergast has gone through phases of subject and color. She started by painting landscapes. Now she has found a niche in painting the human figure and water.
Back in 2009 she happened to take a photograph of a bird swooping down to grab something to eat over the water at Bartlett Beach in Laconia. She submitted the photograph to the Concord Monitor which at the time was running a contest for wildlife photography. The photograph was selected as a winner and it was printed in the Monitor.
Now, these six years later Prendergast has taken that photograph is put is on canvass.
Prendergast says that he often paints from photographs she has taken. But, though she works from the photograph, she gives the scene her "own spin" as she puts the brush to the canvass.
Her hope is that people will see in her work what "I can see".
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