Four new paintings you won’t find on my website

Having a strong individual voice is as important in art as in anything that gets marketed. It’s confusing to the viewer if you’re constantly in flux, and clients or galleries prefer a distinctive look. 
Lots of people who are just beginning in art paint a vast array of subjects: still lifes, landscapes, people or animals, and they experiment with many different media as well. Recently a few people have asked about learning abstraction from me, but I don’t think it is something I can teach. My theory is that you need to go through a long period of experimenting, of trying new things until you find something that really fits you and is unique to you.

One friend, Kayla, told me that she had a friend over to her house who immediately recognized my painting: “Oh you have a Mary Anne! I love her paintings!” This was a huge compliment for me, both to be recognized for my style and to be recognized, period, by someone who isn’t in my immediate family.

However, once you find your “style” you need to be able to evolve it enough so that you can keep growing. We’ve all seen painters who get trapped by their success, churning out copies of their one original style because it sells. I wonder if this turns the wonderfully creative act of painting into manufacturing.

I have spent a lot of 2012 playing in the studio, experimenting with work that is quite different for me. First off, I’ve been doing some representational pencil drawings, which I can use as layers on my process paintings. Secondly, I usually paint on panels, but I had some canvas panels gathering dust and I wanted to do something new. The results are these paintings which I have tried to layer using paint and medium, with mixed results. But I like these paintings very much, I’m not sure where they will lead, but sometimes you just have to follow the creative muse. In the ten+ years I’ve been painting, I find that whatever you do in the studio is never wasted, it shows up somewhere. No matter where you are in your painting life, you need to try new things.


5 thoughts on “Four new paintings you won’t find on my website

  1. Mary Anne, I just spent a couple of hours (whew!) looking at your paintings, reading your blog, enjoying the colors (where I live it's supposed to be spring but it feels like winter and the colors outside are definitely subtle, nothing like your paintings) and I have to say that of all your artwork, I like these 4 paintings best. Especially the top painting with the upside down "Why." Somehow these pieces seem more spontaneous — or less worked out, if that makes sense. And I like the contrasts in the colors. The blacks, the brights, the swirls of brush and stamp-like characters. Your work definitely has a happy quality to it, as you wrote about in another blog post. I like it alot. Maybe someday when I visit my family members in Vancouver I can see an exhibit of your artwork in person. Thank you for sharing yourself online. Maureen ShaughnessyHelena, Montana

  2. Hi Maureen! I'm not sure how this happened, but I never saw your comment until today. Thank you for your thoughtful observations and for checking out my blog and website (always nice to know someone is reading). I have to say, I really like these paintings too, I agree that there is greater spontaneity, that's definitely how I felt as I created them. I would love to have you visit the studio anytime you come to Vancouver, just send me an email at, and I look forward to meeting you someday!

  3. Sometimes I miss people's comments on my blog, too, so no big. Thanks for your email address — I will try to remember to get in touch with you when I come to Vancouver. Am thinking that might happen sometime this fall. It will be great to meet you and see your artworks in person. Have you heard of ArtBomb? My sister, Mary Shaughnessy, who lives in Vancouver, curates the west coast ArtBomb site. You might be interested in working with her. Just google artbombdaily. I think you would be a good match with her.

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