Voices of Experience - Mary Garrish

Voices of Experience

Mary Garrish

Summer Sunset, 24 x 36", Oil, © Mary Garrish
Summer Sunset                    24 x 36"                    Oil

"I think being a surgeon gave me

a certain advantage as far as knowing

hard work and being willing

to experiment to learn."

   Mary Garrish was a successful Otorhinolaryngologist (ENT) practicing as a physician and surgeon for 24 years. But in 2000, she attended a Scott Christensen workshop. The inspiration she took from that workshop motivated her to spend the next five years working to retire from medicine and to become a full-time artist. When asked about leaving a career in surgery for full time painting, Mary writes “I was pulled to art, not pushed from medicine.” Since then she has garnered awards from multiple national juried exhibitions, had several one-person shows, been the artist in residence at the Everglades National Park, and taught at Plein Air South in 2017 and 2019. Garrish is a native Floridian.

   We asked Garrish if she had received any training in art growing up or any formal art training in college.

    I was never exposed to art in school or at home as a young child. No one in my family was creative and so I am hoping to pass that one to my grandchildren.

   I didnt receive formal art training, but instead attended a lot of workshops. Scott Christensen, Quang Ho, C.W. Mundy, Matt Smith and many others, just to name a few.I recently took one on abstraction from Larry Moore which I would highly recommend.

   I started out in pastels, which I loved, but I hated having to mat and frame with glass so I switched to oils. It took quite a while to make that transition, but I persisted. I am just starting to explore gouache as a new study and travel medium.

Afternoon Humidity, 12 x 16", Oil, © Mary Garrish
Afternoon Humidity               16 x 12"               Oil

Summer Greens, 36 x 36", Oil, © Mary Garrish
Summer Greens                    36 x 36"                    Oil

   Tell us about what inspires you and sparks your creativity. What, then, is your process to take that inspiration to a final work of art?

   Going out to plein air paint or just sketch is where I find my inspiration. What sparks my interest? An interesting light and shadow pattern or a special lighting effect which commonly happens over the ocean where there is a lot of atmosphere. I used to be more attracted to color but now I am more attracted to the subtle atmospheric conditions that nature provides.

   My process on location is to sketch, observe and make small studies.  In that respect, I can gather a lot more info than if I went out to make a finished painting. These studies are usually small, not larger than a 9 x 12.There is no pressure. Here is where I will redesign the landscape to fulfill my needs in design. That is very hard to do if you just paint from photos. I am trying to awaken my eyes to see more, to observe on a deeper scale. If you are not feeling the pressure to make a painting you are more likely to go out into nature. The camera is a handy tool if you go into edit and turn the photo into black and white to help see interesting design patterns.

   I can take these studies back to the studio and redesign with the aid of photos if I need them for more detail. The photos are usually not great with color so I predominantly rely on the plein air studies for value and color more than the photos. In photos, the darks are usually too dark and the lights are too light. It's very hard to see color in both these values. When back to the studio, the real designing begins. Sometimes I will make a notan or 3-value black and white with markers to make sure that my abstract shapes are interesting. This could be preceded by a small oil or gouache study before I begin a large painting. I will use my plein air studies for this. My studio work in not done in one session. I like to bring the painting back out a number of times so that I see it  with fresh eyes.

Choppy Seas with Boat, 20 x 16", Oil, © Mary Garrish
Choppy Seas with Boat          20 x 16"          Oil

Cypress Reflections, 30 x 40", Oil, © Mary Garrish
Cypress Reflections               30 x 40"               Oil

   My oil palette may vary depending on the landscape, but usually consists of Cadmium Lemon, Cadmium Yellow Light, Brilliand Red by Vasari, Venetian Red, Cobalt Blue, Ultramarine Blue and the Christensen Grays by Vasari. Sometimes if I want a tonal painting, I will use a very limited palette of Yellow Ochre, Cobalt Blue and Venetian Red. It makes the painting more about value and less about color.

   I have a variety Rosemary brushes. I use Marvelous Marianne's Savvy Soap for cleaning brushes and hands. No water needed and it conditions your brushes.Liquin or Neo Megilp for a medium. I prefer linen on gator board so the sun doesn't shine thru the back.

Abstracted Red Flowers, Oil, 24 x 20", © Mary Garrish
Abstracted Red Flowers          24 x 20"          Oil

Bougainvillea Bonanza, 30 x 40", Oil, © Mary Garrish
Bougainvillea Bonanza          40 x 30"          Oil

  Once travel opens up again, will you be exploring new landscapes and teaching again?

   Yes, I am an avid traveler and have taught workshops overseas. My favorite would be Italy, especially Tuscany and the Amalfi Coast. My husband and I bought an RV three years ago and we frequently explore the USA while I paint along the way. I also love my home studio as it has a lot of windows facing west and there is a constant changing landscape of clouds.

   I am resuming teaching. I will be teaching a two-day workshop May 16th and 17th, 2021, in Roanoke, VA,  just prior to the Plein Air Event that I am judging, and another workshop at the Art Loft Gallery in Dahlonega, GA in the fall. . See my website for more info.

Photograph of Artist Mary Garrish in Italy © Mary Garrish
Mary Garrish Painting in Italy

To see more of Mary Garrish's work, go to: 
All artwork copyright Mary Garrish

Copyright Hulsey Trusty Designs, L.L.C. (except where noted). All rights reserved.
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