Marcia Pugh is in her element.

The Independence resident is the featured May artist at Art Squared, 111 N. Main, Suite 5 in The Emporium, south of Ophelia’s Restaurant on The Square, and she feels most comfortable when she is surrounded by art.

Not just her art, but any of the original paintings, drawings, pastels, photographs, giclees, tapestries, scarves, wood carving or prints that fill the walls of the eclectic home to 10 area artists.

Pugh’s work is colorful and vivid. It might feature a Wyoming skyline or group of big cats, with colors that jump off the canvas thanks to her attention to detail and thematic elements.

“I love the moment when I get inspired,” said Pugh, a graduate of Van Horn High School and former kindergarten teacher. “A sunset, a sunrise, trees, a cloud-filled sky – these are all forms of inspiration for me.

“And I don’t know why, but I love to paint cats – big cats. They’ve always been a favorite subject of mine.”

One expressive painting features two small African carico cats entitled “Trusted Guardian.”

She also has a large piece in the front window of The Emporium that features big cats from around the globe.

“You’ll never find that many big cats from around the world in one place,” Pugh quipped, “except my painting.”

As a child, Pugh began mimicking the art of her older sister, and her passion soon turned into a career.

“When I was 10 or 11, my older sister would draw something, so I had to draw something, too,” she explained. “I went to Mount Washington Elementary School and then went to Van Horn, where I took some art classes.

“I started out with sketches, and then pastels and oils. But I didn’t like the oils around my young children so I switched to acrylic, and that is basically all I do now. I tried water color, but when you use water colors there’s no going back.

“So I prefer the acrylic paints.”

As she looks at her art, and the art of other Art Squared consignors, a smile appears on her face.

“This is home, we’re proud of what we have here,” Pugh said. “We want people to come into Art Squared and feel like they are home. We want to create a friendly and welcoming environment where people can visit with the artists and feel at home.”

And Pugh is most at home with a paint palette in one hand a brush in the other.

“I can’t top what God has done,” she said, when asked about her landscapes, “but I get so inspired when I see something really beautiful. When I’m working on a painting, everything else just disappears – that’s when I know I’m working on something really special.”