A Peaceful Portrait

Wingham's paintings a reflection
of her life: peaceful


MADISON, Ind. – The news came quickly and suddenly.
But artist Lillie Wingham still had enough time to turn out a painting of the Ohio River bridge, a scene she thought would best represent Madison on the 1999 Chautauqua poster.

Lillie Wingham

Photo by Don Ward

Lillie Wingham of Brooksburg, Ind.,
displays the painting that was selected
for use on the 1999 Chautauqua poster.

Despite her labor, the Chautuaqua poster committee instead selected another one of Wingham's works, a piece she calls "Have a Seat in the Gazebo."
The watercolor and chalk pastel painting is a view from a white gazebo looking out into the yard of a country home and displays Wingham's talent as a landscape artist. She won't say whether the scene depicts a real place or a fictional one.
"I'll let each person decide," said Wingham, 63, who lives in Brooksburg, Ind., a few miles the Ohio River from Madison. Wingham received a call in midsummer from the Madison Area Convention and Visitors Bureau asking her to bring down some paintings to display on the walls of the Main Street tourism center. She obliged and delivered the gazebo painting and a still life.
The next thing she knew, they called to inform her she was being considered for the Chautauqua poster, a high honor among local artists. Wingham immediately went to work on the bridge painting.
But the next time the committee called, she was told they wanted to use the gazebo, a painting she had done in 1991. She happily signed over rights to the painting. The bridge painting now hangs in the tourism center.
"I think it's great that I was selected because I want to help the town because the people here are so friendly and it's my town," said Wingham, who has never actually been in the Chautauqua.
Wingham only began painting at age 40, when she agreed to drive her sister to art classes in Bedford, Ky., sponsored by the University of Kentucky extension service. Wingham decided if she was going to take art classes, she was going to make a serious run at it.
A member of the Living Church of God in Jeffersonville, Ind., she also had been praying that God would show her a talent. Art seemed to be it.
Since taking those early classes, Wingham has studied under instructors Leta Klein and Herman Fox. Her art career has taken off. She started with oils but now mostly paints with watercolors and acrylics. And she gives a portion of her proceeds to her church.
In fact, because of her religion, Wingham has never applied to enter the Chautauqua because she refuses to work on Saturday, regarded as the sabbath in her religion. The Chautauqua committee requires exhibitors to participate both Saturday and Sunday.
Wingham doesn't have her work displayed in a gallery today and instead sells out of her home studio on Splinter Ridge. She does, however, have some paintings hanging in downtown Madison stores – Golden Treasures, Wallace's Antiques and Serendipity.
She signs her paintings simply, "Lillie."
"A lot of people say my paintings represent peaceful scenes, and I like that because that is my life," Wingham said. "Painting is such a relaxing thing for me – it's a marvelous outlet."
Local art collector Bill Edwards met Wingham 10 years ago while visiting the Madison Art Club's gallery on Main Street.
"I saw a lot of promise in her work and encouraged her to do more landscapes," said Edwards, a retired banker who has bought as many as 18 Wingham paintings and still owns a dozen.
"I love Indiana landscapes, and she's done some wonderful work," Edwards said.

• The Madison Chautauqua poster will be among the souvenirs on sale during the two-day event, scheduled for Sept. 25-26 in Madison.

Back to September 1999 Articles.



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