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Siobhan Duggan

LewesPicture of Siobbhan Duggan

Visual Arts: Works on Paper

By: Gail Obenreder

“My philosophy of artmaking is simple: Work makes work. The more you engage in artmaking, the more art there is to make. Every day I see the potential for another image.”

Siobhan Duggan grew up in the New York City suburbs, where every Saturday she walked to her neighbor’s home for an art lesson. Mrs. Keefer – who approached artmaking with a “calm and caring manner” that engaged the curious five-year-old – was the first in a series of influential teachers. Duggan has worked in printmaking, drawing, and watercolors; “the lessons from all my teachers are there in my head, encouraging me to keep making art.”

Duggan taught art in New York City for seven years, and able to take summers off, she and her husband (also an artist and teacher) traveled widely. They were fed artistically by staying and working in locales for weeks, able to “sink into the slower pace of beach life. We always wanted to live near the beach,” and so, with their months-old son, the Lewes couple moved in 2013 to southern Delaware.

The artistic practice which garnered Duggan her Fellowship Award is plein-air pastel drawing. “I have always enjoyed drawing in quiet, open spaces . . . keeping a visual journal, recording places I have been and lives I have seen . . . connecting with my local community,” and after her move to the First State, she was also seeking to reconnect with her artistic practice.

pastel painting of view from water looking towards tree lined shore
“Breathing Free,” 2020, pastel, 16 x 20 inches
pastel painting of beach scene
“This is the Life,” 2019, pastel, 8 x 10 inches
pastel painting of street scene with signs
“Dinosaur Ice Cream,” 2019, pastel, 9 x 16 inches

To learn about Delaware, she “registered for a plein air event, pulled out a long-forgotten box of pastels, and dove in.” With this medium, she found “a true passion,” inspired by its immediacy and directness. Pastels allow her to produce works outdoors that are highly evocative of place and shimmer with her love of coastal Delaware. “I find it rewarding to notice those small moments [when] the color changes in the landscape around me.”

Duggan strives “to maintain the freshness that I love at the start of a drawing – the freedom of the first marks.” The “hugely motivating and validating” Fellowship will allow her to “explore the abstractions that I find exciting in the beginning of a drawing . . . to manipulate the landscape and [perhaps] incorporate some other media like printmaking or encaustics.”

As well as her artistic practice, Duggan is an avid knitter, with several projects always in hand. And as a result of her world travels, she loves learning languages. “I’m not fluent, but I try,” not bothered by her blunders in a foreign tongue. What does challenge her is the business side of artmaking – managing a website, marketing, and the necessity of “needing two identities to operate – one as an artist and another as a small business owner.”

Duggan will use her award to acquire updated technology to smooth that part of her work. The COVID pandemic has resulted in cancelled events and plans, but she is heartened by the increasingly creative approaches that keep artists able to work. She’s also moved by “the passion and enthusiasm” of her children (ages 7 and 2), whose “unencumbered ability to express themselves” keeps her focused on capturing “the changing landscape and the varied and inspiring world that is coastal Delaware.”

Artist website: www.sioduggan.com
Instagram: instagram.com/dugganart

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