Happy Maker Monday!
This week we are featuring Mary Clark or Mary Beale Art! Mary Clark, a Rochester, NY native, received her BFA in studio art from Skidmore College in 2012. Her work is easily recognizable by her playful style and complex palette. Mary’s artworks are an abstract representation of shapes, contours and vibrant colors found in nature. She begins her paintings with a loose hand and expressive marks. By deliberately layering color and shapes, Mary creates complex pieces bursting with excitement and rhythm. Read on to learn more about Mary and her work!
: Tell us a little about yourself.
: Hello! My name is Mary and I currently live and work in beautiful Saratoga Springs, NY. I split my time between painting and working at a local boutique – taking any day off or free night to work on my art. I have always been artistic, and always had the mentality that art would be my “side gig”. I even went into college thinking I’d pursue a degree in Chemistry and minor in Studio Art. I ended my freshman year and knew I wasn’t following my heart. So I changed my major to Studio Art, with a concentration in both painting and textile design and never looked back. Even though I graduated not having a clue what I would do with this degree, I always managed to keep up with painting. Since graduating, I’ve lived and worked in Rochester, Boston, NYC and now Saratoga Springs. I spent 3 of those years at an incredible company, where I worked hard to learn as much as possible, eventually becoming the executive assistant to both of the CEO’s. I owe so much to my time at that company, where I learned so much about myself. I realized, ultimately, that I truly wanted to dedicate myself to art, so this past October, I left NYC and my full time job (EEK!). It’s been the best decision I could have made. I am moving slowly and cautiously, really taking the time to think about how I can best create a future based around my art. I spend any free time I have painting and working on commissions. I am happier than ever and am excited for the future of Mary Beale Art!
: We love your paintings! How would you personally describe your own work/aesthetic?
: My work can 100% be described as “happy art” – it’s very whimsical, bright and floral. I try to limit my palette but always end up throwing more color onto the canvas – and I think that is totally ok! I never sketch out or plan my paintings, I just start painting. Ultimately, I want my art to make you smile – I want it to brighten your day and bring joy to whatever room it’s in.
: When did your passion for art start? Does your art reflect your personality or does a different side of you come out in your work?
: Ask anyone and they will describe me as “artistic”. Both my sister and I have been creative since we could hold a crayon. I was the kid who if I drew outside the lines in my coloring book would tear the page out and have to start a new one. If you look at my work, it can come off as being pretty chaotic at first, but when you look closely you will see that every stroke is intentional, every mark I make has a meaning – I love this about my work! This organized and slightly obsessive trait follows me in whatever I do.
: We love your latest floral paintings! Can you give us a little insight into your process of creating these pieces?
: Thank you! My past few floral works have been my absolute favorite to create. Like I said earlier, I never plan out my paintings. Sometimes I have a rough color palette I try to work around but love color too much, so they always turn out a bit different than I expect. I love working on a large scale, so recently have been creating works that are 30” x 40”. I spent most of my time in college working with oils, but have become more in love with acrylics over time. Layering in my paintings is essential to the overall piece, so I like when my paint dries fast so I can create clean layers. I also spend a lot of time playing around with new colors. When I create one I love – I write down exactly how I made it so I can use it in future works.
: What are some must-haves in your studio space or some aspects of your studio that are essential to get you inspired to create?
: Since I am used to moving around and living in small apartments, I’ve become somewhat of a “floor painter.” I have a great easel but always end up sitting on the floor and painting – my dog likes this too because she can sit right next to me :). I like to surround myself with cool plants and always have music or a movie on – I don’t like silence when I paint. I also lay all of my paint out on the floor so I can see every color I have to work with.
: You also do a lot of commissioned pieces. What do you like about working on your client’s requests?
: I love the challenge of working with certain palettes or a certain style that I otherwise would have never pursued. When I paint with no direction I can just go and see what happens. But I’ve learned so many new techniques and styles from doing commissions – portraits, animal paintings, landscapes, abstract work, replication paintings – and use those techniques in my other works. I love creating a piece I would have never done without being asked, and I also love when my clients fall in love with their new painting (that’s the best part!).
: Is there a series of work you did that stretched you as an artist? What are some challenges you face as a working artist?
: Every new painting I create is a stepping stone on this journey. I studied abroad in college my Junior year where I painted, drew and did ceramics in Florence, Italy. I created a floral piece (in oil) that I consider to be a big milestone. I titled it “My First Garden” as it was the first free hand floral inspired piece I had created. It’s framed above my bed in my parents house and is very special to me. But really, every new piece I create is an exciting new step for me. Each new piece has a new color, a new technique, and new something that I use in future works.
As a working artist, I never know what each day will bring. There are some weeks where I am working day and night to complete commissions and other weeks where I have more time to just work on what I want. It’s all a bit scary, to fully throw myself into this full time – but I want to get to that point, and I’m slowly getting there . For now, I love having my part time job as a way to meet new people and take some time away from my paintings – just like taking a mini vacation or a long walk, it helps me to get past creative blocks and to get excited about what I’m working on.
: What are some things/activities/places/people that inspire you or recharge your imagination?
: I love escaping the everyday and going to a beach or to my lake house. I enjoy being near water, and surrounded by nature – I feel most at ease when I can hear waves lapping on a shoreline. I also love looking at pinterest and instagram for inspiration. I’ll save anything I find inspiring – I have a lot of random pictures I refer to when working on a painting. I am drawn mostly to interesting color combinations or unique shapes/patterns.
: What are some of your future dreams for Mary Beale Art?
: Ultimately, I see myself working and living as an artist. I want my work to hang on walls across the country, and to bring joy and happiness to those homes. If I can make someone smile just from looking at my art, then I’ll have accomplished my dreams.
: Any advice for aspiring or struggling artists?
: Since I still put myself into that category, all I can say is that if you are truly passionate about something, pursue it. It’s scary, and it’s hard but it’s worth it. I’m happier than ever and have had so much incredible support. I’m so excited about what is to come for Mary Beale Art!
See more from Mary Beale Art!