ERIN GANNON ’19
Every artist has their muse, and it is often that the inspiration for a piece of art is born from an artist’s own internal struggle. This week’s Bantam Artist of the Week, Abigail McNulty ’20 is no different. Her fuel driving her artistic fire has long been a battle with achieving and accepting imperfections.
McNulty grew up watching her mom paint and draw in their Groton, Mass. home and, inspired, started taking classes and going to summer art camps. Developing an affinity for drawing in graphite or colored pencils and printmaking, McNulty pursued her hobby in high school, taking classes and studying her passion throughout it.
A first-year in the Inter-Arts program, McNulty has continued her academic focus on art at Trinity, additionally taking a drawing course and considering a minor in studio arts or another fine art. Like many of the Bantam Artists of the Week before her, McNulty’s artistic passion takes a backseat to a love of science, as she intends to major in Neuroscience and follow the pre-med track.
McNulty describes her art as realism. “I typically like to draw from life instead of photographs. I like the challenge of conveying something that is 3D into a drawing and still making it seem real,” she said. “I also vary my drawings. At times I draw compositions to convey a certain message, but there are other drawings that I make just simply to draw them.”
McNulty’s normal artistic M.O. was challenged during her senior year of high school when she had to draw a self-portrait for a class. In pencil, she used a photograph of herself as the visual model for an “Abigail-sized” portrait of her own face.
“I originally was very nervous about drawing my own face,” she said. “I didn’t want to have to draw all of my imperfections but I soon enjoyed drawing my portrait more and more. I used my fears of imperfections as motivation to make the portrait as accurate as I could. After I finished the drawing, I was really proud of my work. I felt that I had grown as an artist.”
On the topic of her artistic growth, McNulty described how her fear of imperfection in her work has evolved over her career. “I used to be much more afraid of the flaws in my drawings, and it took me so much longer to complete a piece. I would erase my drawings over and over again because they weren’t ‘perfect’.”
The inspiration behind McNulty’s art has changed over time as well. “I’ve become very inspired by impressionists because of the way they show light in their paintings. I typically like to use light and shadow to describe the objects in my drawings, rather than using line.”
McNulty has made use of impressionist inspiration to combat her perfectionist tendencies. “I’ve learned to render objects in my drawings faster,” she said, “but also with less mistakes, or with mistakes that no longer worry me.”
Currently, McNulty is working on a piece for the art class she is enrolled in here at Trinity. She said it will be a representation of a religious narrative.
In the long-term, McNulty doesn’t see herself becoming a professional artist. “I’ve always made my art for me, rather than for others. By that, I just mean it helps me stay calm and happy, regardless of the way others react to it.” She’s learned to view her art in a way that makes sense and feels right to her, which makes the inevitable “flaws” easier to swallow.
ERIN GANNON ’19