029 / Pandemic Artwork Stories


029 / pandemic artwork stories


Where are you painting from and what have you been doing to keep busy?

I am at High Ridge Gardens, my home in North Carolina. It is a 39-acre artist retreat and bird sanctuary with my home, studio and guest house. I have been painting plein air on the property and working on commissions in my studio. HRG is listed on the North Carolina birding trail and is a bird sanctuary. Wherever I go, there is birdsong and activity at the feeders out my studio window. The weather was so beautiful the other day that I opened the patio doors to the studio and birds flew through. One titmouse decided to say for a while in the rafters.

How did you find inspiration from your surroundings for it?

I am always inspired by what is right outside my window. When I am in Florida, I am captivated by the glorious skies, the sway of the palm trees, the aqua blue water of the gulf, and the bird life that is prevalent. All I need to do is walk outside to be inspired. For my painting in The Collection, the setting sun glowing off of the palm trees and the reflections in the water while the moon rose in the sky and a blue heron fed nearby was all the inspiration I needed to do the quick little study.

What is one positive that has come from this experience for you?

Making me really appreciate all that I have been blessed with. The simple things, like dew drops that sparkle on the leaves in the morning like diamonds. Like the rush of the wind through the trees, the tinkling sound of the brook behind my studio after the rain, the array of clouds scattered across the sky. All things of beauty that, as artists, we see and represent to the world. 

Really, the gift of being on this planet is so tremendous, that trivial concerns melt away when you realize the vastness of what we have. We can only affect what is near to us, but the political chaos that we have right now troubles so many people, and takes their peace away. But really, what power do we have? We can vote. We can try to influence and educate those around us, but that is all. To listen to the news all day long, ad nauseam, only creates stress in our lives. So I say to my artist friends: shut off the TV news, put on some music, and get behind your easel. That is where we can make a difference. That is what we are here to do—our purpose. Make a change where you can. Don't stress the rest of it.

What is one of your favorite pieces in the collection from a fellow artist?

I can't possibly pick just one. I love Hai-Ou Hou's expression of concern and uncertainty in her self portrait, but also love Kathleen Dunphy's use of the beautifully executed geese as a metaphor of what is going on. Finally, I love Jeffrey Hayes' still life, with his apropos sentiment, "When the darkness surrounds us, we come together and reflect each others' light."

Learn more about Mary's artwork and story