People often ask, "What inspires you to paint?" 

Artistic inspiration and the expression thereof is an emotional experience that brings me great joy. Being inspired to paint comes emotion from deep within oneself. Something about a scene or dream moves me to paint what I was feeling at the time.

It goes like this......When viewing something inspiring to me, I initially feel EXCITEMENT! Then immediately get drawn in by the light and how it plays on color, making those colors dance and sing!  As I study the scene, it's almost as if my brain is recording a beautiful dance of emotion, right down to the tiniest detail. Through my mind's eye, each detail is stirring my soul, creating an PASSION within me. Arising in the moment is a very familiar feeling to me.... the INSATIABLE DESIRE to paint!   

 

Why do people call you the 'Happy Artist'?

 Painting is my passion, my love. I am a very joyful and positive person by nature, therefore usually find myself painting scenes with 'feel good’ compositions, whether through content or color choice. I have a special affection for what I call, 'Happy Places'.  Colorful gardens, flowers, things with a hint of nostalgia and romance, entice me to create paintings that transcend the viewer into those 'happy places' too. The goal for me is to make it just real enough so one can almost feel the warmth of the sunshine, recall a fond memory from childhood, or perhaps feel relaxed by the beauty of a simple flower garden, but yet keeping a bit of a painterly quality to a piece. Being able to impart a strong emotional connection to my viewers is very important to me!   

Famous Artist, Henry Ward Beecher (c.1800) summed it up nicely when he said... '"Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures".  My hope is for cheerfulness that shines through in my artwork, conveying warmth and joyfulness to others. If that is true, then I have achieved a true measure of success in my life as artist!"     

Personally my inspiration - my 'eye candy' - are the places & things that bring peace. Things that give me that 'I just want to live here' feeling. Places like quaint street scenes, vintage architecture & colorful gardens. I also love nostalgic and romantic still life scenes.  Many times I just wake up in the wee hours with scenes in my head also.   EVERYTHING beautiful becomes a possible painting when you are constantly thrilled by the beauty the earth holds!

The bottom line is: I love to create a 'FEEL GOOD' emotion in my work to share with others!    

 

Were you BORN artistic?

My answer is in short....Yes and NO. Confused?

I believe the desire to create is inborn, yes. Whether you CULTIVATE that desire and work hard to achieve results is another story!! From my observation, at very young age artistically inclined people can seem to have any combination of natural talents for:

  •  An eye for balance in composition
  • An enhanced awareness of detail, color, shadow, and light
  • Creative 'vision'
  • The overwhelming desire to create

The natural abilities you are born with (or not) and then HARD WORK with DETERMINATION to learn, learn, learn and then TONS OF PRACTICE. That’s what takes to become an accomplished artist!! Yes, while you may be born with some inclinations, it's just up to each one of us to dig deep and find that inborn artist, then CULTIVATE the skills to make it happen!!!

As long as I can remember, I've had that most of those traits and the burning desire to learn. My sister who is 10 yrs older than myself, originally fueled my desire to paint. At just 9 years old, she let me experiment with her precious oil paints (what a brave soul!).  I was hooked immediately! The beautiful dazzling color that flowed from the tubes opened up a whole new world to this 9 yr old!

I used used oil paints through age 25. Logically, after having my first baby was born, I looked for more non-toxic ways than oil paints to fulfill my ever hungry desire for artistic expression. So, I switched focus to the more user-friendly medium of watercolor.  This amazing transparent medium became my favorite medium for painting. I still dabble in other things, but LOVE watercolor!

When painting, a peace comes over me and I get lost in it. Time flies by and in the blink of an eye, the day is be over! I think part of the satisfaction of being an artist is to get so totally absorbed in your work, so focused and happy with the creative process at hand that you forget everything else. It cannot be compared to another other feeling! 

I have spent a lifetime on a quest for knowledge of how to improve my techniques of drawing and painting to be the most professional artist I can be in every way. What ever I create I want it to be of top-notch quality and overall longevity. I have spent countless hours researching the pigment characteristics, quality pigments and highest grade of watercolor paper available so as to use only the best. 

 

How did art evolve into a career for you?

All my life I have painted for enjoyment, to give as gifts and to have something happy to look at on my walls.

However, in 1995 things took a turn. I was invited by the board of directors of an Art Festival in the little town of Willamina, Oregon  to participate. Although small, this bustling little town had a great art festival!  It was an AMAZING experience!!!  I LOVED seeing people reacting emotionally and having a connection to my work!  Being self-taught, I needed this MAJOR confidence boost. I really pushed me in the right direction. Armed with a new-found confidence, I jumped in immediately (then as Mary Olson) building my career as a professional watercolor artist in the beautiful Willamette Valley of Oregon.

 From then on, regular participation in Art Festivals, Galleries, and one person shows in a variety of venues, a career as an artist quickly became my fare throughout the Pacific Northwest. Long story short is, to this day I love the process and lifestyle of being an artist. Painting and selling my artwork is a very fulfilling way of life.  It's also very satisfying that many pieces of my artwork now reside in private collections throughout the world.

Finally, I admit....and yes, it's true.... Artist's are known as a rather strange and obsessive breed. I am thankful to have this love of art and the excitement to create which has carried with me every step my entire life!  

 

    Currently....

    I now work from my home based studio doing freelance watercolors, pastels & commission pieces. I live with my wonderful and supportive husband Tim, 2 cats and 2 lazy but loyal dogs and take care of my 97 yr old mother (as of 2016) at home in Raymond, Washington.

     

     Thanks for your interest and taking the time to read about me and my crazy artistic journey!  

    Much love and appreciation to all~

    Mary Irwin