BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. – As Lotus MacDowell sets out her watercolor paints, she explains about the blue windows she’d already drawn in pencil off of a reference photo that she held in her hand. She took the photo in Jerusalem on a trip with her family.
“I’ll take photographs of places because the type of work I do is so detailed, you can’t really do it on location,” she said, “I might have a photograph for five years, ten years, before I ever end up using it.”
MacDowell is one of the four finalists for the Remarkable Women competition. She’s a painter and likes to paint landscapes with watercolors at her studio in a purple house. The finished product is so detailed that it looks like a photograph from far away.
Watch: MacDowell describes her love of art.
MacDowell sells her watercolor paintings at Artworks, a green and purple gift shop that also specializes in custom framing. The store has been open in Bridgeport since 1986. A fire in October destroyed their previous location, but MacDowell was able to re-open the store in a new location along Route 50 only about two months after the fire.
Watch: MacDowell explains why she re-opened Artworks.
Aside from the shop, MacDowell volunteers by using her creativity to design temporary housing. She said it started when someone asked her to be on the Board of Directors at the Clarksburg Mission, and there, she helped create apartments for people who were ready to move out of the Mission’s dorms but weren’t quite ready yet to move out completely.
“I wanted it to be really nice because I wanted them to feel like ‘hey, I am somebody special.’ You know, I’m not just getting all of this sorry left-over furniture. They’ve made this beautiful and I’m valued and I’m appreciated,” said MacDowell.
She also did apartments for veterans with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. In these projects, she laid down floors, painted walls, and helped put it all together.
MacDowell said that she hopes to continue to help other people and leave behind a positive legacy, and she encourages others to use their talents to help others, too.
Watch: MacDowell explains the importance of helping others