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Rapid Fire


Mary Erickson, MorningMagic, oil on linen, 24 x 20″

With her solo show Flying, Soaring, Hunting opening December 6 at Helena Fox Fine Art, we asked Mary Erickson 12 rapid fire questions to get to know here better. Her new series explores her interest in birds, not only from a painter’s point of view but from that of a conservationist, with a percentage of proceeds benefiting Awendaw’s Center for Birds of Prey.

1. Have you always been interested in birds and their habitats?

Ever since I can remember, my eyes have been lifted to the skies. I’m a very distracted driver.

2. Where is your favorite place, destination, or country to paint?

I find beauty everywhere I go, so I find myself sad to leave where I am—yet when I arrive at my destination, I’m thrilled to be there! I spend a few months in Florida and a few months in Maine each year. The rest of the year I spend in North Carolina. France and South America are favorite painting trips, in addition to any coast in the US, but I’m always happy to return home to High Ridge Gardens in Marshville, North Carolina.

Mary Erickson, Shades of Gray, oil on linen, 30 x 30″

3. Last book you read?

Legacy Journey by Dave Ramsey, Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, and The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker. I read several books simultaneously, usually a financial book, an art book, and a novel.

4. Most enjoyable travel experience in the past five years?

I spent my 60th birthday in Provence with my very best friends. Sharing special moments with the people you love is what it’s all about. Celebrating milestones with them is even more important.

5. Dream vacation?

I’ve not visited Costa Rica yet. Birding and painting there is in my future!

6. Music, podcasts, or silence in the studio?

A little bit of all, depending on my mood and what I’m working on. I even watch, or listen to, Netflix stand-up comedy, sometimes documentaries, sometimes drama.

Mary Erickson, Beauty and Poise, oil on linen, 36 x 36″

7. Guilty pleasure?

Dark chocolate and potato chips. Together.

8. What are the three most used colors on your palette?

Ultramarine Blue, Transparent Oxide Red, and Cadmium Yellow Light

9. What’s your dream project?

High Ridge Gardens is a work in progress. It’s my 39 acre property with home, studio, and guest house that’s slated to be left as a bird sanctuary and artists retreat. I’m in the process of starting a foundation that will support my vision after I am gone.

10. How do you relax?

I sit at the pond just before sunset and listen to the critters settling in for the evening. Just listen. At first, it seems quiet, then, as you pay attention, you can hear wonderful things. Birds are flying in, stopping to get a drink, calling to each other, and flitting into the bushes. Frogs and crickets are singing their songs. Small mammals are rustling in the leaves beside the pond. Turkeys are calling. If I’m lucky, a deer will wander in just after sunset. My studio is nestled in the woods, next to the pond, so the lure of sitting outside is ever-present. I often take breaks during the day to appreciate where I am.

Mary, Erickson, Catching the Rain VII, oil on panel, 8 x 8″

11. Who are you inspired by?

Nature. This wonderful planet that God has given us dominion over inspires me. Given dominion doesn’t mean to exploit, but to use and take care of.

12. If you could spend a day in the studio with any artist, living or dead, who would it be?

That is a hard one. Ray Harris Ching for his bird studies. Sorolla for his light. Wyeth for his emotion. Helga often talks of Andrew’s private moments, how he felt so intensely, yet dismissed the ordinary needs and wants of the everyday. Of course, he had that luxury of only having to paint. No other intrusions, like, bookkeeping, marketing, dinner even—all of this was provided for him. But spending a day in the studio with Wyeth would be enlightening and entertaining. He is said to have had a wonderful sense of humor and loved a practical joke.

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Posted in Visual on November 15, 2019 (Issue 44: Fall 2019) by Matt Mill.

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