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Work Samples

View from Watters Meeting

Oil on linen, 18" x 24", 2019

Red Run-in Shed

Oil on canvas panel, 11" x 14", 2019

Beach Watch

Oil on linen panel, 10" x 16", 2019

Tigress

Open bite etching with aquatint and chine collé, 10" x 18", 2019

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About Mary

Baltimore County

Mary Swann's picture
For years, for all of my adult life, I have been painting outdoors in rural places. Participating in this way with uncluttered landscapes, I feel a deep connection with the natural world. While painting I surrender to what is there, I lose my SELF, and have to trust that what I have learned in art school and other places will provide what is needed to make a painting. Beforehand, I pick a spot that speaks to me, then set myself up with tools and a enough of a strategy (keep rain off the palette, angle... more

Tantric Collection

This is an ongoing series of monotypes inspired by sacred tantric paintings made by "tantrikas", painters in Rajasthan, India, and collected in a book called "Tantric Song ". Thinking about them, meditating on the reproduced original, and making them--one segueing naturally into yet another--has been an oddly joyful experience in this strange time of separation and turmoil.

Gathering Geese

March is a big month for geese where I live, and these monotypes were what I worked on during the first six weeks of Covid-19 Quarantine. They started out with a foundation of intaglio but soon they were being made just of cutout shapes of geese, multiple overlapping stencils and layers of colors arranged in a vertical, scroll-like format. The ghosts, or leftover ink on the plates, were salvaged and recycled wherever possible. I also experimented with different ways of applying ink to the plates to keep the layers transparent, to convey texture, and to create the shimmering effects of natural, outdoor light.

Stones & Waterways in Southwestern Nova Scotia, 2019

These are paintings I made last summer during a couple of weeks spent around Sable River in Southwestern Nova Scotia. Many of them are featured in my 2020 calendar. The spots are ones I have painted since 1998, but the results are always different, not only on account of tides and weather but also on account of whom I am with, what I have had for lunch, and the painters whose work I have been looking at.

Inside Views of Northern Baltimore & Harford Counties

This past summer, the summer of 2019, I decided to paint some regular, old-fashioned landscapes. This meant finding long and wide views, with big skies, and painting with a big brush from good vantage points. The underpaintings were done in odd colors, like cinnabar green, in order to make the surface colors glow, conveying a sensation of depth and heated air. I was invited to work in a gorgeous valley in Harford Count that turned out to be a treasure trove of just such views. I returned to it many times to paint or just gazeduring the months of July and August.

Closer to home, later in the year, I waited and waited for the leaves and colors to change. It took a long time, but they finally did. I got in a few smallish paintings as the landscape became bare and before it was too cold.

Layered Etchings

This project explored layers of superimposed etched drawings with a third layer of shaped colored paper. I chose unrelated subjects, horses from a how-to-draw-horses book and soccer players from family photos, and, in one case, a pinwheel-like lily. Only one plate was used in the first group of prints. Where the lines intersected and where the edges of the chine collé paper crossed the lines was intended to energize the images and pack the space in a dynamic way.

The next stage of the project required making a second plate for each image with an aquatint shape similar to each of the chine collé shapes, inking up these shapes with colors similar to the chine collé papers and printing them over the corresponding line images --just to see if this way I could also produce a floating layered effect and keep the edges clean. However, the edges ended up fuzzier, partly on account of the lingering plate tone and partly on acount of the grainy aquatint, and the shapes look more embedded, almost as if they are in the same plane as the drawn image. Not using plates
that were exactly the same size was another distraction from a clean effect. However, not resorting to collage made me feel this second batch of prints was somehow more authentic and more permanent.

Summer 2018

This was a summer when I meant to concentrate on blue skies and green that really looked green in the summer fields. I wanted to apply the paint in a different way, not so much with a brush, and I used scraps of card board to wipe it on or scratch into it to suggest details like trunks and foliage and sticking up blades of grass.

Nova Scotia Coastline 2018

In many of the Nova Scotia paintings I did this summer, I continued to work with a piece of cardbord to make the most of the rougher texture on the linen panels. I enjoyed the way the fabric's tooth broke up the painted surface, and I ended up letting this effect be as interesting as any representational detail that was needed to suggest an image. My paintings on regular stretched canvas look quite different.

Monotypes 2018

These monotypes were an experiment using at least 2 plates and masking out areas of the first plate, printing it, then printing a second plate on top of it. In the masked areas the pure colors on the second plate to show up while in other areas the overlapping colors create a whole new color. The second plate can be masked as well--that is, kept free of ink in selected areas. This way when it is printed on top of the print made by the first plate, the colors in those masked areas pick up the original pure colors from the first plate.

Nova Scotia Paintings

This goup of late summer paintings done for my 2017 calendar proved a challenge to produce as the weather was not so favorable to being outside. The air was cool and vaporous, often threatening rain, and I traveled a lot up and down the coast (weather varies from one peninsula to the next) in search of spots where it looked like the showers might hold off for a couple more hours.

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Mary's Curated Collection

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