Mary Mabry

I grew up in rural Missouri, but spent over 21 years in Los Angeles. During that time I sorely missed the peace and tranquility of rural life. When I left art school I knew I had to find a refuge from urban life, and have finally found one in a small town in midcoast Maine.

I always start a painting with a concept. The concept doesn’t have to be revolutionary, awe-inspiring, or earth-shattering. In fact, I prefer that it not be.

My concept for a landscape painting usually comes as a result of seeing something in nature that I find beautiful. Then I carefully analyze what specifically made it beautiful and how I could best translate that onto a two-dimensional canvas. Small landscapes are quickly painted on site because natural light changes dramatically during the day. If I’ve decided to do a larger landscape, I’ll do a small sketch for color and emotion, and use reference photos to enlarge and expand the painting.

Concepts for portraits start with an expression that I find compelling or some aspect of the sitter’s personality that I want to capture. Of course, likeness is critical. But without expression or personality, portraits are cold and impersonal.

Most of my floral paintings start with a walk through my garden. For example, as I walk by an old French hybrid lilac, my senses come alive. And I think as I sink my nose into a flower cluster, “What a heavenly fragrance! These petals feel like silk on my cheek! Look at the subtle variations in the color!” And a concept for a painting is born—translating these sensory feelings into paint—so that others may somehow experience them.