I was lucky to grow up with innovative and progressive teachers.Margaret Morgan Watkins
Art with feeling is the signature of Margaret Morgan Watkins.
"My paintings are emotive, full of feeling.
"I can't paint without having an attachment to the subject matter," Ms Morgan Watkins said.
Being involved in art from a young age, Ms Morgan Watkins credits a number of tutors and teachers for widening her artistic repertoire and exposing her to a variety of mediums.
"I was lucky to grow up with innovative and progressive teachers.
"I was painting to music and would go on walks around the grounds of Genazzano in Melbourne with a sketch pad in hand, checking out the beautiful purple shades thrown by the shadows," she said.
Ms Morgan Watkins started oil painting when her children were toddlers.
Tutored by Ron Reynolds and Marion Bruere, her first piece was a painting of Beethoven's death mask.
"I'm surprised I didn't call it quits after that," Ms Morgan Watkins said.
"Ron would have a box of black and white photographs for us to select our subject matter from, resulting in an exciting night of tonal painting."
Ms Morgan Watkins' family ties to central Victoria date back a number of generations.
That connection continues to draw the artist back to the region, where she will feature alongside friend Maria Dee in the Mid Summer art exhibition at Heathcote winery, which opened yesterday.
"I have had many solo and joint exhibitions at the Heathcote Winery venue.
"I have two great uncles buried in the Old Heathcote Cemetery and they were both ANZAC diggers.
"My grandfather, Francis Robinson, was born in Woodend, his father was a Methodist minister and must have travelled throughout the north central part of Victoria," Ms Morgan Watkins said.
An artistic style that is described by Ms Morgan Watkins as impressionistic, she loves the movement of paint on her chosen surface.
"I love the free flowing movement of the paint on the surface, whether it be paper, linen, board, canvas, Yupo or silk," she said.
Ms Morgan Watkins has been recently working with acrylic pouring methods.
"This is fun, creating landscapes this way, it is much more than just creating cells.
"I have landscapes hanging in The Victoria Hotel in Woodend, though I always revert to my first love, watercolour."
The strength of regional galleries in Victoria is testament to the historic art movement over time, according to Ms Morgan Watkins.
"The grandchildren and I would stroll the lake, take in the Ned Kelly exhibition at the information centre in Benalla, admire the Rose Garden and ceramic work in the park and ultimately end up in the gallery," she said.
The galleries in Bendigo and Ballarat are also Victorian highlights, Ms Morgan Watkins said.
"Ballarat is a tourist's dream with a wonderful gallery and gold museum.
"I had a print of Ancient Fragments by Leonard French on my living room wall for many years, which is in the Ballarat gallery.
"A story as well as an abstract, you could look into it for hours, the old and new testament, last supper and crucifiction," she said.
The recent closure of galleries close to Ms Morgan Watkins' Kilmore home are a huge loss for regional artists.
The Tin Shed gallery at Malmsbury and Old Post Office in Seymour have closed down in the past two years.
"For current artists displaying their works, we are still fortunate to have many art shows and exhibitions at our fingertips," she said.
Nadine Hartnett, who runs the Macedon Ranges Art Trail continues to promote local art, while several galleries in Kyneton have helped promote local artists, filling the void of these defunct galleries.
"In the current environment, sales have slow down, but Bluethumb and other online galleries promote works and paintings are sold throughout Australia," Ms Morgan Watkins said.
New and exciting exhibitions continue at the Bendigo Art Gallery in 2020, with art lovers now able to take in four exhibitions.
'Josh Muir: What's on your mind?' and 'The Becoming' are both showing until April 12.
'The Paul Guest Collection' concludes on March 1, while 'Talismans for uncertain times' ends on March 22.
Located on View Street, the La Trobe Art Institute also has a number of enthralling exhibitions in the first quarter of 2020.
Of note, 'They Cannot Take the Sky: Stories from Detention' is an exhibition of personal stories from people who have sought asylum in Australia.
'They Cannot Take the Sky: Stories from Detention' commences on Monday, 17 February at 10am.
The Mid Summer art exhibition at Heathcote Winery will feature paintings of landscapes, wildlife and birds, while the fun of acrylic pouring will also be on display.
The official opening will be at 3pm on Sunday, 12 January with drinks and nibbles, although the exhibition is already open at 185 High Street, Heathcote.
There is no cost to enter the gallery.