Block title

Work Samples

1. Ellicott City Cyclist.jpg

Ellicott City Cyclist, oil, 30"x30"

2. Ellicott City From Westchester Avenue.jpg

Ellicott City From Westchester Avenue, oil, 30"x36"

3. Ellicott City Train Station.jpg

Ellicott City Train Station
Ellicott City Train Station, acrylic, 18"x24"

4. St Paul's Steps.JPG

St. Paul's Steps, Ellicott City
St. Paul's Steps, oil, 18"x24"


About Mary Jo

Howard County

Mary Jo Tydlacka's picture
BIOGRAPHY Mary Jo Tydlacka is a resident artist at the Howard County Center for the Arts. She was born and educated in the Chicago area and did her art studies at the University of Maryland, College Park, and at MICA. Collectors of her work include the Folger Shakespeare Library, Michael Kahn, founder of the Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, D. C., and Theresa Colvin, former Director of the Maryland State Arts Council. She participated in an 2 artist exchanges in Cergy-Pontoise, France.... more


I enjoy the gathering of people for plays and performances. I like to witness it and record it. A librarian friend of mine called me an archivist. That's fine.

Ellicott City

I have been fascinated with Ellicott City  since I first saw it and the city has been the subject matter of many of my paintings. Its historic buildings and hilly quality were so different from the flat Midwest where I grew up. Since 2010 I have participated in Paint It Ellicott City, a pleine air event. The Patapsco Female Institute Ruins sit at the top of the highest hill in the city, and that is the site of the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company's  summer plays. The last two floods have been a shock to all of us closely involved with historic Ellicott City.


 I participated in two artist exchanges with Cergy-Pontoise, France, and Columbia, Maryland. These were in 1999 and 2018. American artists lived with French families and exhibited with French artists at nearby Chateau Grouchy in Osny, France. These are my paintings from the 2018 trip.

Outdoor Shakespeare

The next few projects are one big project. In 2003 I attended Chesapeake Shakespeare Company's Romeo and Juliet at the Patapsco Female Institute Ruins in Ellicott City. I have been painting the plays performed there every summer since. I was already interested in the historic building, an 1830's girls' boarding school. The ruins are perched on a hill overlooking Ellicott City, the river and the railroad. I was an English teacher a few years and the rich subject matter is endless. There are trees, night skies, old stone walls, ruins, costumes, drama, picnics, families and Shakespeare's words.

Outdoor Shakespeare

This is a continuation of the above project.  In this group I depict a scene from the Tempest as a real storm is brewing in the sky. The group did Macbeth as a Movable Shakespeare where the audience followed the actors around the site for different scenes. Macbeth meets the witches on the steps and they dance in the woods. Lady Macbeth goes crazy in the chapel basement, and the play ends with a sword fight on the hill with cars driving below. I found these real scene changes very effective.

  • Comedy Of Errors

    oil, 24"x30", 2010
  • The Tempest

    The Tempest, watercolor, 22"x30", 2009
    watercolor, 22"x30", 2009 The scene in the play was a tempest and a real storm came up.
  • All Hail Macbeth

    watercolor, 16"x12", 2009 This was the first moveable Shakespeare where the audience followed the actors around the ruins. It was cold, dark and spooky in October. It felt as if we were following this menacing family around their house and witnessing their descent into tragedy.
  • Witches In The Woods

    watercolor, 16"x12", 2009 I pulled on all my previous paintings of trees to get this result.
  • Lady Macbeth Goes Mad

    watercolor,16"X12", 2009 Lady Macbeth is in the basement of the chapel of the ruins.
  • The Sword Fight In Macbeth

    watercolor, 12"X16", 2009 The back lawn of the ruins, high on a hill with a road below.
  • The Serenade in Twelfth Night

    watercolor, 12"x16", 2011 I like the way the action was moved around on the grounds so the audience had to look backwards. Erin Blake, the art curator of the Folger, said that the audience was an important element in my paintings.
  • Twelfth Night

    watercolor, 12"x16", 2011
  • Cyrano De Bergerac

    12"x16"', 2010
  • Cyrano, The Balcony Scene

    watercolor, 16"x12", 2010

Outdoor Shakespeare

A continuation of the Shakespeare project. Details are in above projects. Much Ado About Nothing and Midsummer Night's Dream 2005 are in the permanent collection of the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington. Much Ado About Nothing was in the exhibit Shakespeare in American Life at the Folger in 2007. The curators thought it was a good example of American outdoor Shakespeare. It is in the catalog.

  • The Folger's Much Ado About Nothing

    watercolor and acrylic, 20"x24", 2005 This piece is in the permanent collection of the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. and it was on exhibit there in the show Shakespeare in American Life. The show was part of a citywide Shakespeare Festival in 2007.
  • Romeo And Juliet

    watercolor, 22"x30", 2004 This was the first play done at the ruins and it hooked me.
  • King Lear

    watercolor, 22"x30", 2007
  • The Taming Of The Shrew

    watercolor, 22"x30", 2007
  • As You Like It

    As You Like It, watercolor. 12"x15", 2014
    As You Like It, watercolor, 12"x16", 2014, A happy ending under the super moon.
  • Macbeth's Witches

    watercolor, 11"x14", 2008 This was their first production of Macbeth. It was in a black box theater.
  • Henry V

    watercolor, 22"x30", 2008 Amazing lighting casts Henry V as a looming giant at the battle of at Agincourt.
  • Henry V The Night Before The Battle

    watercolor, 12"x16", 2008, This production had to be moved under a tent because of weather. The actors were right in front of me.
  • The Folger's Midsummer Night's Dream

    watercolor, 22"x30", 2006 This piece is in the permanent collection of the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C.
  • Pyramus And Thisbe

    watercolor, 18"x24", 2006


While I was a student at Loyola University's Rome Center I would sit in the cafeteria and look out the window at a villa up on Monte Mario. In the spring I finally got to go up there and visit. It is Villa Madoma, a Renaissance structure designed in part by Rafael. It has majestic arches, gardens, fountains, and terraces. That year of living among ancient, Renaissance and baroque art greatly impressed me and I think it influenced me to become an artist. In 2010 I was able to go back and revisit many familiar sites.

The Eastern Shore

I began painting the Eastern Shore about ten years ago. I try to get there once each year. It is so inviting with its different sights, sounds, color, and light. The air and mood are a change. In my art I try to feel that difference and put it in the painting. Sometimes I am able to do on site painting there and it always adds a liveliness and immediacy to the work.


I traveled to Ireland with a group of artists and hammer dulcimer players. The artists painted during the day and we all went to the pubs in the evening to hear the musicians.

Ink Drawings

I enjoy doing the ink drawings. They can feel like playing compared to painting because there are fewer decisions to make. At times I do them very fast even without a pencil drawing. That was the case with Midsummer With Owls which I did after the big painting in project 1, Performances.
On a very different note I made this series on Richard lll only as ink drawings, not colorful paintings, and I included text for the first time. Chesapeake Shakespeare Company's 2012 production was a Moveable Shakespeare performed at the Patapsco Female Institute Ruins. The actors moved around the setting and the audience followed. It was performed in the dark in October. Around the same time Richard lll's bones were excavated and identified in England. I have worked on this series since then.

Connect with Mary Jo

Mary Jo's Curated Collection

This artist has not yet created a curated collection.