Meeting Mary

A collection of small works by Mary J. McInnis now in our collection.
Our collection of small works by Mary J. McInnis.

Inspiration comes in many forms, varying places and at unpredictable times.  Sometimes it strikes in the form of a picturesque sunset or another beautiful fleeting moment in our lives; other times it appears in the form of another piece of artwork in a gallery.  Still other times it’s in its most intimate form – a personal visit into the very creative world of the artist behind the work.  The artist’s studio is an extension of the artist’s mind, and therefore also a very intimate place.  While studio space can vary greatly in size and style depending on the artist themselves, one fact remains the same for all – it is a very private space and as such, an invitation for a personal tour is quite an honor.  Last Monday, I had the wonderful privilege of touring the home studio of Washington-based artist Mary J. McInnis, and I can’t begin to express how grateful I am to have been given the opportunity to do so.  What an inspiration!

Mary was gracious from the beginning, and after meeting her darling cat and sweet dog, obliged us on a personal tour not just of her work, but of her home.  Her work is very impressionistic and she is amazingly gifted in a wide range of mediums (oil, acrylics, pastels, and mixed media).  If you aren’t familiar with her work, please take a few moments to go explore her website (  Believe me, you won’t regret it!  Her work proudly hangs all throughout her home, spanning many years of creativity and a few style changes, all of which are lovely.  Expressive landscapes in pastels and oils hang next to endearing animal portraits of varying species.  Portraits and figure studies are equally contemplated, framed and displayed.  A lifetime of work adorns the walls of every room, some of which have been re-purposed over the years, but the collection of artwork continues to be added to.  It is quite an opening act to the collection that awaited us in her studio at the top of the stairs.

I had no inclination of the sheer immensity of artwork that lay ahead of us in the next room.  Mary’s studio space, which is quite a large room on its own, has been lovingly organized for the necessity of practicality.  Unfinished hard-wood floors are perfect for the sake of cleaning up spills, and each medium has its own separate workspace station.  A high work table lined with large flat boxes of pastels in ascending colors stands by the window; behind it, a corner devoted to acrylics with a current painting in progress on a wooden easel.  In the next corner, another easel with a recent oil painting awaiting assessment; along the next wall a two-tiered system of shelving organizing many of her larger works, followed by yet another little station for using fixatives, varnishes and cutting matte board and paper.  In between and wherever space allows, stand nearly ceiling-high shelving systems housing boxes of smaller works from plein air sessions and other studies.  The amount of artwork here is overwhelming.  To see a lifetime of work housed together is awe-inspiring.

Mary kindly answers many of my questions, giving me valuable advice and suggestions on topics ranging from art suppliers to framing to varnishing to how to keep an updated log of my artwork.  She is encouraging and supportive, offering tips on what has helped her over the years.  Mary offers us one other treat before we part – a tour through two of her urban sketchbooks, full of quickly and beautifully rendered drawings of local areas.  We also are fortunate enough to purchase a few of her small plein air works for our enjoyment at home (pictured above).  I leave feeling her studio inspired to keep creating, grateful for the insight from such a successful and talented fellow artist.  My many thanks to Mary J. McInnis for inviting me into her creative world.  I will not soon forget her artistic guidance and encouragement.

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