Inside the Studio

Mary Ann Wakeley

Favorite material to work with?
As a mixed media painter, it is hard to say just one. If I had to choose a favorite, it would have to be the smooth vellum paper that I have been working with almost exclusively during the past few years. This would be followed by chalk pastel and oil bar.

What themes do you pursue?
I never think about themes; rather I let freedom be the guiding force and colors establish an atmosphere.

How many years as an artist?
I have been making something in one form or another since childhood.

What was the best advice given to you as an artist?
I don’t remember, but I admit I am not good at taking advice. So many inspiring words have been offered by other artists, though. I love what Robert Henri was quoted as saying: “Pretend you are dancing or singing a picture. A worker or painter should enjoy his work, else the observer will not enjoy it.”  I just do my own thing, whatever that means.

Where is your studio?
In my home. I recently downsized to a small sunroom which has forced me to pare down to essentials in terms of making the space work. I am still editing. I use our living room as a gallery and music room. I like using home spaces creatively, and fortunately my family is on board with it.

Prefer to work with music or in silence?
90% of the time with music. I often begin a work with music and then finish in silence.

If you couldn’t be an artist, what would you do?
Hopefully—having worked in many different fields prior to painting—I will never again have to consider this question. If I had to do something else, I would enjoy doing something creative to bring joy into someone else’s everyday life. Astrology combined with psychology as counseling also appeals to me.

Favorite contemporary artist?
I have long been a fan of Elizabeth Peyton.

If you could only have one piece of art in your life, what would it be?
I am so perfectly content with the art that I currently live with.

Use anything other than paint?
Pastels, ink, charcoal, colored pencils, crayon.

Is painting dead?
Not yet. Not for me.

Palette knifes?
I used palette knives a lot when I worked with oils and acrylics on canvas and wood. I rarely use them or brushes now on paper.

Monet or Manet?
Both are lovely and inspiring in their own way.