By Cindy Bennett
“I want to open people’s eyes to the beauty of where we live. There’s no better place. I paint for the people who live here.” Vivian McCord
Local plein air artist Vivian McCord has been painting and drawing since she was a child. Says McCord, “I’ve always painted or drawn, even before I moved to Cody at about five.” By nine she was oil painting. During college, she studied at The Colorado Institute of Art in Denver. After moving to Chicago she worked with artist Frankie Johnson at the Studio in the Woods. In the 1990’s she returned to Cody with her husband to raise their sons and soon after began taking workshops with artist Geoff Parker.
Embraced by the Impressionist, plein air or open air painting attempts to capture the immediacy and spirit of a location. Plein air artist often select subjects for their natural appeal, quality of light, and compositional life. True to her plein air roots, McCord begins her paintings on site. Notes McCord, “I drive through the Big Horn Basin, Sunlight and Yellowstone. I choose what to paint when I see a moment in time I want to share. When I notice high drama, heavy shadows, appealing color values, or (color) temperatures I stop. I’m a seasonal artist.”
Working in oil – often “wet on wet”, she builds her paintings, laying down fresh, open brushstrokes with an eye to color and light. Relates McCord, “Oil painting is a process of discovery. I really enjoy that process. I take the long road to painting. I try to do it honestly, authentically.” Says fellow artist Geoff Parker, “Vivian’s a wonderful artist. She’s got her own style and knows what she wants to do.”
As generous with her time as she is with her art, she given much to the Cody community. When her children were at Eastside Elementary School, she revitalized the school cafeteria by painting murals. She regularly donates her paintings to organizations for fundraisers. When the Soroptimists, Northwest Family Planning, Crab Crack, The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, the Garret Randolph fundraiser, or Vital Signs with the Cody Medical Foundation – just to mention a few, ask for a donation, McCord charitably obliges with one of her paintings. Remarkably, she’s donated art to many of the same organizations year after year.
For Spirit Mountain Hospice, McCord curated all of the art at the hospice. She asked fellow local artists for their work and personally created original paintings to cover hospital-like control panels in each residential room. Notes McCord about her paintings, “The hospice serves so many people. I wanted everyone to feel like they were in a home, not a hospital. The paintings help to do that.”
What is her favorite painting? In the spirit of plein air, with a confident smile she confides, “My favorite painting is always the last one I finished. I enjoy sharing my art. It makes me happy.” To see her work go to www.VivMcCord.com.