Portraits by Miriam McClung
c. 1950 - 2020
The humanity and divine image expressed in everyday people—whether friends, family, strangers, models, or the artist herself—have always been the focus of Miriam's portraiture. This selection of Miriam's portraits spans almost seventy years in multiple mediums. Her portraits connect the viewer to the subject in the work in personal, direct, and revealing ways.
From her time as an undergraduate fine art major at the University of Alabama to a a at the Art Student’s League in New York City and back to Birmingham, Miriam’s early work represents a diverse range of styles and subjects to include two the nurses who cared for her grandmother, copies of famous works, and friends.
In 1963, Miriam lived in Sarasota, Florida in a small, rented cottage near the beach at Siesta Key while attending the Farnsworth School. Jerry Farnsworth was a renowned portrait painter and his students benefited greatly from his technique and teaching.
“I learned more about painting at the Farnsworth’s School of Art in Sarasota, Florida. I was down there about six months. Jerry Farnsworth was a great admirer of El Greco, and it showed in his work. Also he was the first painter I have run across that scraped the canvas down after a session. It is a great technique to use and also had never used the long bristle brushes. It was a struggle at first to change over but found it was a good way for me to paint.”
– Miriam McClung
Throughout the 1980’s Miriam spent several summers in Burnsville, NC attending the Burnsville Painting Classes (SeeCelo). There were many opportunities to work on portraits in the class with an emphasis on watercolor. You can read more about her time here.
“My favorite place was the Burnsville Painting Classes. John Bryan and Everret Kivette were teachers there who took over the classes started by Frank Stanley Herring and his wife, Frances. I attended classes there in the summer for two weeks over the course of ten years. The criticism was frank but never cutting. These are some of the portraits from those classes.”
– Miriam McClung
Friends & Family
Family member’s of the artist are a familiar subject for portraiture. In Miriam’s case, her son (Frank), mother, father, husband (Sonny), nieces and nephews all served as models. Friends, too, often had their wives and children sit for portraits through the decades. If you have a Miriam McClung portrait in your home of a family member, please contact us.
Miriam’s self-portraits follow the tried and true custom of artists throughout history from da Vinci to Frida Kahlo as they seek to represent themselves visually. Each of Miriam’s self-portraits capture a particular time, mood and stage in her life and her artistic journey creating a visual autobiography.