About the Artist: 
 “I love to ‘commune’ with nature.  I love being in the middle of nature for days and weeks at a time – it’s my Heaven on Earth up in the Jemez Mountains.  It is a complicated process to make my conversations (my art work) with nature look so simple that others can understand, in a moment’s time, what I experience.  To hold the viewer long enough so they can also experience and take to heart some memories of God’s peace and simplicity….that is my goal at this point in my career.”
Casual notice of Mary's landscapes reveal wide-open spaces and a quietness that have come from many years of hiking, camping, and rafting trips into the deserts, mountains, and rivers of the Southwest. A lot of her landscapes are painted on location in the natural light (en plein air). A common place to find her painting is in the Jemez Mountains in Northern New Mexico. Years ago she purchased a cabin deep in the mountains near the Valle Grande Nature Preserve as a retreat and found the quiet isolation to be a great help in her pursuit of the delicate nuances of the landscape. "Nature has a spiritual richness that I try to reflect in my artwork," says Mary. Frederick Franck, the author of several books about the Zen of seeing and drawing, has influenced her working process a great deal. She has learned that she must trust that "the delight in touching and feeling the trees and cliffs on the paper" is going to work toward the success of the painting, and thus, half the battle is won. 

She is also intent on accurately representing what she sees on the canvas, so the other half of the battle for her is to understand the physics of light and its play on the her subject, whether it is a landscape, portrait or still life. She wants to know the "why" of what she's observing. She concentrates on making accurate observations in the pursuit of the correct colors, contours, perspective, and composition. 

Mary has recently been concentrating on figurative work with models, family and friends.  She loves to visit with the subject during the painting process so as to gain an insight into the person’s life.  She will usually let the model relax and determine a pose in order to aid in the insight she’s searching for, and then work for several painting sessions – always intent on capturing a bit of the soul of the person before her.  “Everyone has a story, as the saying goes, and I like to see if I can identify some small chapter in that story and put it onto the canvas.  It’s a way of making a person speak and almost come alive”

Georgia O'Keeffe has been an inspiration more than any other single artist because of her independence of thought, action, and boldness in the use of design and color. The tenderness and sensitive emotions of figure artists Kathe Kollwitz and Mary Cassatt have also had important influence on her perception of the strength of the human form and spirit, especially of women. Other historical artists that have influenced her work include Francisco Zuniga, Thomas Moran, John Singer Sargent and Diego Velasquez. Favorite contemporary artists include Ned Jacob and Albert Handell, both of whom have excellent drawing skills and intuition when they work.

“When I am at my peak of creativity, my paintings evolve as though I were composing a song. I capture my  subject by developing a rhythm of looking, seeing, feeling, and recording. I establish a tempo of going "in and out, up and down, around and through"; it's sort of a dance to chase and catch the subject's personality, spirit, and soul. As I converse with the person, the water, the mountains, or whatever I'm painting, a story develops: it's quiet here; I feel alone; she's delicate; he's an "old soul"; what wild red hair!; the clouds are so white against the blue sky; it's going to storm and the wind will blow and change this place into something new.  A story forms in my head and goes on and on…until I'm finished. The wet, thick paint on my brush is a baton directing the instruments in my orchestra. I sing and dance with my heart as I apply them to the canvas: directing, interpreting, and sharing my joy.”

© Mary Stovall, 2019
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