martedì, maggio 10, 2016 Aggiornato il:

Mary Pettis,1953 | Plein Air /Expressive Realist painter

Mary Pettis is an Expressive Realist creating elegant, classic traditional oil paintings. Mary has been juried into, and won awards in national painting events and exhibitions from New York City to Scottsdale and Maui.
Recently her paintings were chosen as a finalist in the 2015 Oil Painters of America National Juried Show, the 2014 American Impressionist Societies National Juried Show and the 2013/2014 Art Renewal Center’s International ARC Salon.

Mary Pettis was born in 1953 on a farm in southern Minnesota. Growing up in the country, she followed the rhythm of the seasons: barefoot before the ground was dry in Spring, baling hay, feeding chickens, tromping through the sloughs and ravines and helping "put up" food for the large farm family. At fifteen, Mary discovered that painting seemed a natural means by which she could express her enjoyment and love of nature.

While receiving a BFA in Art and in Humanities from the College of St. Benedict, Mary studied with Hungarian artist Bela Petheo at nearby St. John's University in Collegeville, Minnesota. She excelled in advanced courses in Modern Composition and in Abstract Art at Mankato State University during the summer. She also did extensive research abroad in art museums from Amsterdam to Rome.

Mary's love for the traditional style emerged in 1975 when she was accepted to a three year full-time student apprenticeship in Classical Realism at Atelier Lack in Minneapolis, Minnesota. During that period, she also studied copperplate etching with C. Daniel Graves (founder and director of the Florence Academy of the Arts - Florence, Italy). Working daily from antique plaster casts and from the figure gave her a solid foundation and disciplined approach which would never leave her.
Through the years, while continuing to read and study the Masters, she opened a studio gallery, taught classes and led workshops on various topics. She spent many years painting commissions, portraits, and highly illustrative wildlife and genre pictures to the commercial
specifications of various publishers. While this was a sidetrack from "following her muse", she recognized it as an important part of her artistic journey.
As she says, "There is something to be learned from every subject, every challenge, and every failed attempt. Just when I would begin despairing over my artistic growth, I would see a tiny touch of true beauty in what had come from my hands. I would recognize an edge, a square inch, a color combination that was truthful... and the passion to forge ahead would possess me all over again".
As I paint, I get swept away by the symphony of artistic elements in front of me.
In the mid 1990s Mary met Jim Wilcox, who introduced her to the "wet-in-wet" plein air approach.
"I spent years laboring over details using layers and glazes, taking weeks or months to complete a picture. This method was totally different. It was sheer fright and utter joy to paint directly, to strive towards putting the right color in the right place in one fell swoop!"
With more input and encouragement from Robert Duncan, and Zhang Wen Xin, whose tradition stems from the Russian Realist and Impressionist schools, Mary moved her studio outdoors.
Melding the experiences in her life with her artistic influences have now resulted in an authentic and powerfully lyrical style.
"As I paint I get swept away by the symphony of artistic elements in front of me. It is an honor to be able to share through my work those impulses which, more often than not, feel like expressions of private worship".
Today, as she melds technical proficiency with insight and sensitivity towards her subjects, Mary's art resonates with her deep connection to nature and her love of life.


  • February 2016 - 11th Maui Plein Air Invitational, Lahaina, HI Pioneer Inn award;
  • November 2015 - 3rd Place, En Plein Air Texas Painting Competition;
  • May 2015 - Oil Painters of American National Juried Show finalist;
  • February 2015 - 10th Maui Plein Air Invitational, Lahaina, HI Montage Kapalua Bay award, King of Frame award;
  • December 2014 - Raymar Fine Art Competition Finalist;
  • 2013/2014 - 10th Annual International ARC Salon Competition Finalist;
  • October 2014 - American Impressionist Society's 15th Annual National Juried Exhibition Finalist;
  • May 2014 - Minnetonka Center for the Arts Members' Juried Show First Place/Best in Show;
  • February 2014 - 9th Maui Plein Air Invitational, Lahaina, HI;
  • June 2013 - Easels in Frederick Plein Air Invitational, Frederick, MA 2013 People’s Choice Award;
  • February 2013 - 8th Maui Plein Air Invitational, Lahaina, HI;
  • 2012 - American Impressionist Society National Juried Exhibition, Indianapolis, IN;
  • July, 2012 - Door County Plein Air Invitational, Peninsula School of Art, Fish Creek, WI;
  • February, 2012 - 7th Maui Plein Air Invitational, Lahaina, HI;
  • March-April, 2012 - Il Chiostro Juried Exhibition, The Art Gallery, 25 Central Park West, New York, NY;
  • February 2011 - 6th Maui Plein Air Invitationals, Lahaina, HI Irvine Museum Award.