Artist Margie McKenna of West Branch entered the Besser Museum's Juried Art Exhibition for the first time last year and ended up taking first place.
"It was pretty awesome," McKenna said. "I had actually contacted the museum early on about the exhibition, but they weren't sure then if they were going to do it. Then once I knew for sure, I went ahead and entered."
Her oil painting titled "Between Innings," which depicted Little League ball players lined up at the concession stand, struck a chord and garnered her the top prize.
Artwork by Margie McKenna
As the overall winner, not only did she win a cash prize but also a solo exhibition in 2012. McKenna's exhibit of 36 oil paintings and photographs opened last week at the museum.
The exhibit represents work she has created within the last 10 years. One of her favorite subjects to paint are portraits, several of which are included in the exhibit.
She views painting as a source of relief from the everyday challenges of life, including two bouts with cancer, even if she doesn't always find time for it.
"It's my relief and enjoyment," McKenna said. "Sometimes though it's the last thing on my list of things to do."
Her fondness for art began at a young age.
"I've been drawing since I was a little kid," McKenna said. "I was always drawing something."
Though she never took any art classes while in high school, she ended up enrolling in both a drawing and perspective course while living in Pensacola, Fla. After marriage and a move to Michigan, her mother-in-law encouraged her to take an oil painting class at Arnie's in Hubbard Lake.
"I discovered that I liked that and started painting," she said.
Additional classes at Kirtland Community College and participating in a weekly gathering of the West Branch Creative Arts group helped to hone her skills.
Along with oil painting, McKenna enjoys using her camera to capture images,particularly while on vacation. Photos she took while in Sedona, Ariz. and the island of Isla Mujeres near Cancun, Mexico are featured in her new exhibit. Two of her pieces show a series of matted and framed doors she spotted while visiting the island.
McKenna does commissioned work such as painting family portraits from photographs.
"I love commission work," she said. "Old people or young, it doesn't matter. It's what I love doing."
Two of McKenna's works also currently hang in the airport at West Branch.
The Art of Margie McKenna will be on exhibit through Nov. 3. For more information, contact the museum at 356-2202.