Marjorie Davidson is a classically trained pianist who creates landscape oil paintings inspired by her life in the outdoors.

Majorie Davidson and friend, taken in Door County, Wisconsin. Credit: Jean Cunningham

She said, “I am not trying to create statement art, but just images that are beautiful.” She believes her art and music training are intertwined and include reciprocal elements of discipline and process.

Davidson’s inspiration comes from daily walks with her dog along Lake Michigan, North Carolina’s oceanfront and mountains, and trips to Door County, Wis.

Recently she has driven between Evanston and southwest Pennsylvania several times to care for her mother. Much to her surprise and pleasure, the rolling hills of farm country in Ohio provide her with unique visualizations to incorporate into her landscapes. 

“Peninsula State Park” oil on canvas 9×12 Credit: Submitted

She works on her art most days and more so when not teaching piano. She usually creates her paintings at home in her studio or en plein air. The studio includes her oil painting tools, a comfortable chair to sit and ponder in and a bed for her dog, who keeps her company. There are two large, east-facing windows that provide natural light and create a sensation of beauty surrounding her.

Davidson purchases good quality paint and paints with big hardware brushes and, “even my hands, even though I’m not supposed to,” she said, smiling.

Using this method, she finds the resulting paintings are more sensual, and they better capture the air and light as well as the emotions she has when viewing a landscape. She paints with many colors, but usually selects only five to seven for any one painting. 

“Quiet Afternoon” oil on canvas 24×36 Credit: Submitted

During her daily walk, Davidson decides the basic structure of the landscape she will paint next, and then finds representative photos of that structure for ideas and reminders of details. She paints on canvases from 9-by-12 up to 30-by-40 inches, and uses landscape orientation. Deciding the size often depends on how much time she has available.

After selecting the canvas, she tones the canvas by applying a light wash of burnt sienna, ultramarine blue and white. She immediately wipes the wash off with a paper towel, leaving just a thin trace of color.

Next she divides the canvas into thirds horizontally and typically reserves the top two thirds for the sky.

“Summer Beauty” oil on canvas 24X36 Credit: Submitted

She then divides the bottom third – which will be below the horizon – into three or four sections and begins painting. Davidson said this type of organization is similar to piano, but she allows herself much more freedom to diverge from form when painting.

Like music she does not feel a painting is ever really done. Nevertheless, she finishes each painting by signing it, adding a varnish and then putting it in storage. 

As a treat for any passersby, every day she displays one of her paintings in her garden. Davidson’s paintings of natural beauty are also on display at three galleries this summer: the Blue Moon Gallery in Greyslake, Ill., Coffee Lab and the Three Crowns Park , both in Evanston.

To learn more about Davidson’s art and music, visit her website at, or her Evanston Made page

Jean Cunningham

Jean Cunningham retired from the business world and is now enjoying the next phase, including writing about local artists to increase awareness of Evanston’s amazing art community.

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