Viewers always will find sunshine in Margaret Garrington's artwork. While she considers herself a contemporary realist, the Ashland artist is not opposed to replacing a dreary gray sky with a cheery blue one in her pastel landscapes.

Viewers always will find sunshine in Margaret Garrington's artwork. While she considers herself a contemporary realist, the Ashland artist is not opposed to replacing a dreary gray sky with a cheery blue one in her pastel landscapes.

"There's a lot of ugliness in the world, and to me capturing the beauty of the world adds to life," she says.

In that respect, Garrington is a fair-weather painter, working in "plein air" during the summer and from photographs during the winter.

Aside from tweaks of color and placement, Garrington's painting are true to nature. She is attracted to humble scenes and subjects: a tree, a field of flowers, a bush near a riverbed and rural spaces, many of which lie between Medford and Ashland.

"I almost feel that my paintings are love letters to the landscapes," she says.

Garrington got a degree in art from Southern Illinois University, "but I couldn't figure out a way to make money," she says.

Consequently, she pursued other professions while continuing to build her art skills by taking workshops, frequenting museums and galleries and painting.

In the 1980s, Garrington became transfixed with pastels and has not veered from the medium.

"The medium has fabulous colors," she says. "There are all these pastel sticks with different colors and values. ... You have the pure color in your hand rather than a paintbrush and paint that you're mixing and testing."

In addition to its color, Garrington values the medium's immediacy and the texture it produces through layering.

"I like to produce depth in my work and create a lot of vitality on the surface of my work," she says.

Her landscapes radiate a "glow" that Garrington says is the result of applying complementary colors.

"If you're using a purple or a blue in your darks and yellow or orange next to that, it makes both colors really glow," she says.

Garrington is represented by Hanson Howard Gallery in Ashland, but the gallery is closed while relocating to 89 Oak St. and will reopen in July. To see additional works by Garrington, call 541-482-8559 to make an appointment to visit her Ashland studio. See www.margaretgarrington.wordpress.com.