China painter creates fair-worthy pieces
The theme, “Let’s Stirrup Some Summer Memories,” reminded her of saddles. So she painted a cowboy on a bucking horse in the center of a tri-corner plate.
Around the top edge, she placed some special spectators — farm animals. “There are always animals at the fair,” she noted.
McAvoy painted the plate as a gift for fairgrounds secretary Sue Fredrickson, acknowledging all the hard work she puts into each year’s event. Most of McAvoy’s recent creations have also been gifts for friends and relatives.
“I enjoy doing things for those who enjoy them,” she said. “It tickles me.”
McAvoy has always been an artist. Art was a favorite subject for her when she attended Estacada High School.
However, she put it aside when she married, waiting until her daughter and two sons were grown before taking it up again.
About 30 years ago, she and her husband moved to Anacortes, Wash., to retire. While he was fishing, she accompanied a friend to a china painting class and quickly got hooked. Her first project was a set of dishes with a poinsettia design.
A few years later, she and her husband moved to Arizona to be near a son who installed tile for a living. She couldn’t bear seeing him throw away leftover tile, so began using her china painting techniques to adorn them.
Soon people were clamoring for her custom-painted tiles. She sold individual tiles and created custom murals from sets of them.
About 15 years ago, McAvoy and her late husband moved to Lafayette, closer to their other son in Portland. She painted two tile murals for the house they built — a scene of herons for the bathroom and a still life of fruit for the kitchen.
She also became a regular at china painting classes at the McMinnville Senior Center, working with instructors Vivian Linderoth, Pauline Thomas and, more recently, Joy Williams. She occasionally fills in for Williams these days at the Friday drop-in classes.
It’s an easy and inexpensive hobby to pursue, she said.
All sorts of blank pieces are available, she said, but you can also use inexpensive plates from a dollar store, as long as you stick to real china. The blanks become the canvas for paintings of flowers and scenery, ships at sea, animals and other designs.
You need patience, though. Details are added gradually and pieces are fired several times before they’re finished.
That’s really an advantage, she said. If you make a mistake, you can wipe it off and redo it, as long as you haven’t fired it yet.
“Anyone can do this,” McAvoy said. “It’s relaxing and enjoyable. When you’re at the senior center with other ladies, you just have a lot of fun.”
The two senior center china painting teachers were involved with the county fair, so naturally, McAvoy became involved as well. She entered her own work in addition to helping to take in and judge entries.
Now in her 90s, she’s stepped back a bit, limiting her role to judging. But she always uses the opportunity to encourage beginning painters.
“I’m always impressed by their work,” she said. “Look at the china painting when you go to the fair! Look at what the beginners are doing!”