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Meg Barclay goes from medical illustration to teaching children art
Woman's art on display at Quinlan Visual Arts Center in Gainesville
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Meg Barclay received an honorable mention for her piece “Cove” during the Quinlan Visual Arts Center’s annual Members’ Exhibition. The piece will be on display until Saturday at the Quinlan.

Quinlan Members’ Exhibition
When: Through Nov. 26
Where: Quinlan Visual Arts Center, 514 Green St. NE, Gainesville
Cost: Free
More info: www.quinlanartscenter.org/69th-annual-members-exhibition.html

Artist Meg Barclay has had jobs from the fields of medical illustration to art education, but all center on her love of art.

Recently, the 57-year-old woman retired from Flowery Branch Elementary after 16 years of teaching art. But it’s not how her career began.

She graduated in 1981 with a degree in biological illustration from the University of Georgia. Then she went to The Medical College of Georgia and her masters in medical illustration.

“I did medical illustration in Atlanta for about six years for a group of doctors,” Barclay said. “Then when I had kids, my focus kind of changed to my kids and family.”

So the mother returned to school — the University of North Georgia in Gainesville and Dahlonega — for her teacher certificate in art education.

In her retirement, Barclay is doing “a variety of things,” from volunteering to taking art classes.

“Some of it has been art-related. Some of it has not been art-related,” Barclay said during an interview.

For the artistic side of her, Barclay is active with the Quinlan Visual Arts Center. Last month, she submitted a piece to its Members’ Exhibition and received honorable mention.

The Members’ Exhibition is a showcase designed to honor its members and their work.

“Every member is eligible to submit one piece, so that’s how it’s selected,” Quinlan Visual Arts Center Executive Director Amanda McClure said. “There’s no reflection process to it. It’s just as simple as that.”

Barclay was pleased with the results.

“It was really fun for me to get that little nod of honorable mention that I got,” she said. “I haven’t put things in show that much or anything like that. I’m kind of learning about that whole world I guess.”

Barclay admits she has been a member of the Quinlan “kind of on and off through the years.”

“I really didn’t have as much time to do things there or be actively involved when I was working,” she said. “But I’m enjoying this past year, especially renewing my membership there and trying to do some volunteering or hanging a show and just some other things. That’s been really fun. And taking some classes, too.”

Her volunteering has taken her outside of the art world as well. One place is the Atlanta Botanical Gardens.

“I volunteer at the Botanical Gardens and couple of different places for the social component, and then just giving back to the community or learning some things maybe that I didn’t know as much about.”

But each time she still seems drawn back to the arts and teaching.

“Oddly enough, doing stuff there (the Botanical Garden), especially in Atlanta, has helped me to be able to do arts and crafts and that kind of thing with kids,” she said. “I have missed that. Some of my volunteering has helped me be able to do that, just on a smaller scale.”

The surroundings of the garden seem to inspire her in drawing and painting.

“Nature inspires me a lot,” she said. “Right now, I seem to be gravitating toward painting from life, like outdoors.”

And she draws in many mediums such as pencil, pen and charcoal.

“Drawing and painting are what I feel are my forms I guess,” Barclay said.

Her honorable mention piece “Cove” is on display until Saturday at the Quinlan. 

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