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Great Falls Hosts Art Festival This Weekend

Local artists join Maryland group's Art Festival at the Grange this weekend.

A splash of color from Maryland's Eastern Shore will arrive in Great Falls this weekend, with accents of McLean and Great Falls to brighten the local appeal.

Two local women who are members of The Creative Edge, a group of artists from the Eastern Shore region of Maryland, are bringing their painting talents to an art festival at The Grange Park in Great Falls this Saturday and Sunday, June 11 and 12.

"We're very excited about this festival," said Margo French, one of the event's organizers. "This is a group that has done a lot of fund-raisers in the past few months, including one for tsunami relief at Saks Fifth Avenue that raised $10,000 earlier this year."

The Kent Island organization is coming to Great Falls to display and sell their works, she said, and has invited a few local artists to join in their fun.

"I'm very fond of Great Falls," French said. "I used to board my horses there. It's a special place."

A former art director for the Mitre Corporation in McLean and life-long graphic artist, French said her love of painting and sculpture comes from her family, which is filled with artists.

"It's in my blood," she said.

That sentiment is literally true for two of the local participants in this weekend's event, Anjanette Murphy and Ed Ilano, a father-daughter duo whose paintings will be on display at The Grange.

"I've been painting in oil for about 10 years now," Murphy said. "It's exciting that a group of artists is coming from Annapolis to Great Falls and that they thought to include artists from this area as well to get the community to come out."

Calling her style "impressionistic" for portraits and her landscapes tending to be "more old-world style," Murphy said her favorite artist is Howard Behrens of Potomac, Md., who does a lot of landscapes using a palate knife, a tool available in varying lengths and widths that allows the painting to have a more textured look.

Her father, Ed Ilano, is a doctor of internal medicine in Washington, D.C., and was unable to be reached for comment, but Murphy said she brought him back to painting when she took up the hobby a few years ago.

"Because of his love of art, it was always interesting to me," she said. "He started me on art as a little kid, but I brought him into it when I started taking classes again. For us, it's very much a family thing to do, something we can share together."

Murphy has also used her art as a way to bond with Tracy Warren-Carlton, a friend she has had since childhood who also paints.

"Anjanette and I grew up together," Warren-Carlton said. "It was her mother who introduced us to Margo French."

The two women, both of whom have young families at home, find creative ways to sneak a little painting time into their everyday lives.

"We started painting together five years ago," Murphy said. "Once we get our homes quiet we'd get together and paint until midnight or so, then try to get home to get some sleep before the kids started waking up in the morning."

A GIFT OF art supplies and classes re-introduced Warren-Carlton to her passion for painting, she said.

"My husband and mother bought me some time in art classes after my two older children started school full time," she said. As the mother of three, the classes were a way for her to have some time to herself and gave her a hobby while her children were gone during the day.

Having her art on display in Great Falls is a homecoming of sorts, she said.

"I'm a longtime resident here and I grew up here," she said. "I had my 16 birthday party at the Grange."

During the Art Festival, Warren-Carlton will have 15 pieces on display, mostly oil paintings featuring bright colors, flowers and textures.

"I love color," she said. "One of the things I've tried to do is marry texture and color in my pieces. Most of them look like they belong in the springtime."

She also uses a palette knife to achieve the textured look of her paintings.

"Palette knives are mixing knives of various sizes and thickness, and depending on what type of effect I'm going for, I'll use different sizes," she said. "There's a lot of texture and feeling in my paintings."

Both Murphy and Warren-Carlton are members of the Washington ArtWorks school, based in Great Falls, she said.

For Warren-Carlton, the best part about the upcoming Art Festival was easy to decide: "It'll be great to be able to say I've shown my paintings in my home town," she said.