Artist Maryann Mullett shares an astonishing portfolio of realistic pastel paintings that capture nature’s bounty. Find more of her work on her website.
I’ve always been drawn to nature. I grew up in rural New Hampshire where my dad kept a large vegetable garden. Next to our home was a cow pasture and across the road, a field where my neighbor and I rode horses. My favorite pastime was picking wild strawberries.
When he was young, my dad briefly attended an art college but never pursued art, as men weren’t encouraged to do such things. My two older brothers were always artistic, both in painting and jewelry making. In grade school my friend Susan and I published a newsletter each week, filled with cartoons and puzzles. The gears towards a career in art were turning early.
During high school, I pretty much lived in the art room, eventually taking art lessons with artist Richard Whitney.
After college I landed a graphic arts job. This experience helps explain the importance of the strong compositions in my current work. I also did freelance illustration for Yankee Magazine, The Old Farmer’s Almanac and other books and publications.
In my early teens and into my twenties, I worked in oils while studying under Richard Whitney. I later began using pen with a light wash and ink and watercolor in some of my illustrations.
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Twelve years I returned to fine art and joined a small group of local artists. I took up pastels as my medium and haven’t looked back since.
The immediacy, vibrancy and luminosity of pastels captured me. Pastel is the purest form of pigment. It’s the same pigment found in watercolors, oils and acrylics but with the least amount of binder—thus the luminosity and the light!
From a distance my paintings appear to be photorealistic. But closer up, a viewer can see my strokes—many layers of color applied together to create hue changes and texture. My goal is realism with feeling and movement.
Wintering in Florida has afforded me opportunities to visit landscapes that are quite different from home. Many of my paintings originate there, in preserves such as the Wakodahatchee Wetlands near Palm Beach.
“On the Fence” was painted from a reference photo that I took at Delray Beach. I griped about it in its beginning stages as I came up against several challenges to the clear vision I had about how to handle the shadows. Now it is one of my favorites. It’s also near and dear to me because it received one of the Pastel Society of America’s top awards at an exhibition where I also received the designation of Master Pastellist. Great memory.
I have gazillions of reference photos that I want to paint, but not enough time in this life to complete them all! I think I will focus more on abstract realism and landscape in the future. Abstract realism is most inspirational to me—real subjects but with abstract qualities.
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