Local artist Virginia “Ginny” Marchiondo, a 40-year resident of Mount Laurel, recently displayed her new acrylic painting, “A Distant View,” at the Burlington County Senior Art Show.
The 90-year-old cited the work of Vincent Van Gogh and Pierre Auguste Renoir, artists she began appreciating at a young age.
“(I was) about 12 years old,” Marchiondo recalled. “I was interested in the artists themselves. (Vincent) Van Gogh, and (Pierre Auguste) Renoir were my favorites. I loved their work.”
Eager to learn, Marchiondo tried creating sketches of her own that quickly interfered with her school work.
“I started sketching while I was in school and got in trouble because I wasn’t doing my school work,” she acknowledged. “I was sketching pictures. My mother got many teacher’s notes sent home because of that.”
The artist noted she struggled early as she learned the techniques of painting.
“I put my heart into it,” she remembered. “It was hard at first, but I thought, ‘I love (painting).’ And if you love it, you should just keep on doing it. So that’s exactly what I did.”
The mother of four went on to have her artwork displayed at exhibits and other venues across the state, including a two-month solo show at the Mount Laurel library in 2011 that resulted in Marchiondo selling five of her more than 30 displayed paintings.
“It was like an audition,” she noted, referring to submission of her art for the exhibit. “You would tell them your brief story (on the art piece), then show them your paintings.”
But illness struck Marchiondo at 39, when she was diagnosed with an essential tremor disorder, a neurological condition that causes the hands, head, trunk, voice or legs to shake.
“The doctors told me, ‘There is no medication (to control the tremors),'” Marchiondo explained. “What you have to do is find ways to live with it, and adapt to it – which works sometimes.”
Her son Michael noted that while the physical ailment has negatively affected his mother’s day-to-day life, it hasn’t kept her from doing what she loves most.
“(She) has had (tremors) for most of her life,” he pointed out. “She shakes very bad; it’s gotten a lot worse in the last decade, but yet she still draws, sketches, and paints. It’s just amazing. If you see her when she’s not painting, she shakes so much, but when she’s painting … it’s whole different world.”
Marchiondo noted that while the concentration required to paint helps with her tremors, they don’t fade. But she finds appreciation in her ability to paint despite them.
“It means so much to me to accomplish what I’m doing (despite the tremors),” she said.
Marchiondo’s new piece, “A Distant View,” took her approximately two hours to paint, though she would go back to correct mistakes or to revisit the feeling she had when she first created it. The acrylic work was displayed at the senior art show from July 13 to Sept. 9 at Warden’s House Gallery in Mount Holly.
Marchiondo was the only nonagenarian out of the 37 seniors represented there.
“My mom has inspired me throughout all her whole life with her artwork,” Michael observed. “Unfortunately, I wasn’t blessed with her gene (to draw and paint), though I admire and appreciate art so much, especially hers.
“I wish I could do it, but being her advocate is fine with me.”