Margaret (Martin) Dawson -Van Der Veen was born in England during WW2 to a War bride and Canadian soldier. Before the war ended women and children were evacuated to Canada seemingly for their safety. This was quickly ended as they were afraid that ships could have been sunk by the Nazis. Margaret and her mother arrived in Windsor waiting for the war to end and the safe return of her father. The family settled down in Windsor, her fathers birthplace.
Her upbringing was uneventful, having her education in local schools and living in the same house from 1950 until graduating from High school. At that time she decided to join the RCAF to travel and get an education in the military. She was trained as a nurse and posted to different provinces to complete her training. During a posting to NDMC in Ottawa she was transferred to France, where she met and married Don Dawson . She and Don were transfered to many places in Canada and Europe, during his 30 year career. Her Military career ended when they married.
Don retired in 1989 and he enrolled in Trent University, where he graduated with an Honours degree. in 1994 Don was diagnosed with cancer, the family moved to Windsor, where he passed a year later and Margaret remained in Windsor
While her husband served in the military Margaret continued to work as a nurse until a car accident ended her working. She had always had an interest in drawing and found it an outlet from the boredom. She enrolled in a painting class after being drawn to the media by an excellent teacher and was hooked. She absorbed all she could from this instructor ,a working artist, and continued to study from any source that she could find. Watercolor had found its mark and couldn’t get enough.
Most of her painting was done in the Peterborough area where they lived while Don attended university. Also while having the best studio in the outdoors with the scenery in that area Margaret became proficient in Plein air painting.
They moved to Simcoe after graduating and while there Don was diagnosed with Cancer and was told it was terminal. They then moved to Windsor where Don passed a year later.
Margaret entered shows and competitions, winning awards and selling her work. While showing her art people asked her to teach them. She taught painting through the Department of Parks and Recreation programs. and introduced plein air painting to Windsor as well as beginner classes in Watercolour.
In the fall of 1996 she met Bob Van Der Veen, they married in 1999, and a year later they took the road to start a new chapter in their lives living full-time in a motorhome while travelling throughout North America.
Art has always been her passion. With over thirty years of painting in watercolour, Margaret feels most at home in that medium. She also challenges herself with new subjects and media, most recently water based oils and acrylics. As an international artist Margaret exhibited in juried, group and solo shows, and has many awards for her work. Her work can be found in Private and Corporate collections in Japan, England, France, U.S.A and Canada.
She owned and operated her own gallery in Port Stanley, and has travelled extensively for her art. Some of her most memorable times were spent sailing with her husband Don on Lake Ontario and in the Bay of Quinte area. Her intimate knowledge of sailing, love of the water, and sound of the wind in the sails is felt in her nautical paintings. “GAM on Yachting” magazine frequently featured her work on its cover. (9 times)
She has also had her work featured on the cover of the parks and rec guide for the city of Windsor (2 X) and other publications.
In the spring of 2009 she and a fellow artist founded the Windsor & Essex County Plein Air Society. Together, they arrange weekly paint outs in the area totally free of charge. Margaret also shares her knowledge with lessons in her studio.
Margaret Dawson-Van Der Veen is a co-founder of the Windsor & Essex County Plein Air Society, a military veteran, art instructor, international artist & traveler. She now works from her Windsor studio and en plein air.
Before starting to paint, I look at my subject from different angles composing in the viewfinder of my camera as I go. I take a lot of photographs at this time as well and when I feel inspired (ready to start) I get comfortable sitting and review my photos. This helps me to focus on what caught my attention and then compose or crop in the viewfinder without distractions. I try to find subjects that are peaceful with dramatic lighting that helps create a mood and a story. This is what I’m always searching for, in my life and my paintings – quiet and peaceful solitude. I paint mostly from real life or en plein air as well as still life, and when I must, I paint from my own photographs in my home studio.
When I am ready to start, I make a quick sketch (with very little detail) with an HB pencil and a light touch. I don’t erase my drawing, I want my sketch to be a guide for my watercolors and not dominate in any way. In the painting process, I like the way the paint flows from the brush onto the paper and runs and blends in the water washes. I like to paint directly onto the paper without masking, although it does have it’s place, I find the painting process quicker and more spontaneous when I can paint quickly working with the water and paint before it dries. Watercolor has a look that cannot be duplicated by other media. With the transparent glazes, washes, dry brush techniques and happy accidents – magic happens.
I have had students ask me “where do I start?”, and I don’t have a definite answer. I find the subject tells me whether to start in the background, foreground or the focal point. I don’t think about it – the painting tells me. If the subject is complicated I may start there or if there is much foreground, that may be where I go. I have been painting over thirty years now and everything comes without thinking. Although techniques come easy to me now, it’s the subject and inspiration for painting that is ever changing
Artist Exhibition Grant for 2013 Art Exhibition
“Plein Air & Other Works”
in Amherstburg Ontario,