The headlines herald the 25th Birthday of the introduction of Photoshop, the photo editing software that almost everyone has heard about and many have used. Photoshop was released on Thursday February 19, 1990, 25 years ago. I, however, began painting electronically years earlier on the Chyron Chameleon Paint System.
1986 Mary Ahern working on the Chyron Chameleon at the Cablevision studios in Woodbury NY.
The Chameleon was a digital painting & editing system complete with dedicated hardware & software aimed at the Broadcast TV & production industry.. Primitive by our current standards but tremendously advanced at that time in the mid-1980’s.
In order to sell a paint system in the ‘80’s, since no one really understood the enormous creative possibilities of computer painting, I did demonstrations & lectures in order to sell this tremendously creative tool. It offered drawing tools & brushes, cut & paste, zoom, a removable hard drive, video outputs and 8 bits of color.
I have made a very good living using Photoshop, amongst other digital imaging programs, but I was able to apply my Artist’s vision first using the tablet & stylus of the Chameleon.
So I wish Photoshop a very Happy 25th Birthday but they are the young kid on the block. I have been digitally painting for 30 years.
Here is a video which I originally created in July of 2013 of how I prepare prints for display and sale at outdoor art festivals .
I took these video clips in my studio as I prepared for the Northport Art in the Park hosted by the Northport Arts Coalition.
I used a Canon Power Shot SD3500 IS Digital ELPH, holding it in one hand and demonstrating with the other. I used the audio from the camera which is muffled at times since I put my finger over the microphone. I originally started with 18 minutes of video clips and brought it down to about 4:15.
I edited in iMovie with the end credits created in Photoshop.
Fun little project which I wish I’d given myself more time to perfect but there are always choices to be made. Time being the one thing I can’t seem to stretch.
Studying Art History seeps into your memory. Countless visits to the many museums and galleries that New York City has to offer has crept into my subconscious. This lifelong study has taken me through so many happy surprises as well as quite a number of dead ends.
Often Artists are asked who their influences have been for their Art style. Trust me, never would I have answered Matisse. I’ve never appreciated his sketchy use of paint, his lack of detail and apparent lack of a “finished” quality to his work.
And then, when I least expected it, I reimagined Matisse’s iconic painting, “The Dance”. Using flowers from my own garden, I picked up the exuberant rhythm that makes his work such a delight. This work is so light, buoyant and a wonderful interpretation of what spring means to me.
As I was creating the composition of Irises I remember somewhere, behind my eyes, trying to make the circular floating connections of the frilly irises that was suspended somewhere in my memory. I have stood so often in front of the Matisse painting at the Museum of Modern Art, loving the composition while not liking the paint quality. I’ve returned so often to view that painting in the original hoping to find what I missed.
I absorbed his painting just by being there and looking. And looking again. And again…
“…man is a bundle of relations, a knot of roots,
whose flower and fruitage is the world…” Ralph Waldo Emerson
Curating an Art Show takes many steps and stages. The process begins with the organization sponsoring the event. They are responsible for setting the dates and timetables of the show, the selection of Artists and in this case, establishing and maintaining a cooperative working relationship with the owners of the hosting venue.
The organization that is sponsoring the Art Show decides if they are hosting a One-Person Art Show or a Group Exhibit and where the venue will be held. This information is included in their prospectus.
For the Art Show I’m having from August 28 through October 9th, 2012, I downloaded the prospectus from the Northport Arts Coalition (aka NAC) website here. Most organizations now offer their applications & information online.
In this case, I applied for a One-Person Show to be held over a 6-7 week period at the Wine Cellar on Main in downtown Northport NY. I was notified of my acceptance and given about a one-month lead time to prepare for the showing.
Normally the lead time for an opportunity for a large show like this is quite a bit longer but I was pleased with the opportunity to show my work so I quickly accepted their offer.
A view of my studio while staging for the Art Show
Depending on the organization the curating of the actual show is done either by a designated person within that group or the individual Artists whom they’ve selected for a show.
I usually have various paintings of mine in multiple group shows over a wide variety of time slots & locations so I keep comprehensive records of where my Art Work is allocated at any given time & where the work is scheduled to be shown.
I also know what work is in the process of being created & when the work will be available for the next showing.
Curating is many things. These include finding the venues, selecting the Artists, designing the show itself and creating and executing the marketing campaign.
So I applied and was accepted for a one-person Fine Art Show at the new Wine Cellar on Main in Northport NY from August 28 through October 8th, 2012. The acceptance email was the fun part & then the stress factor hit me within moments.
Yikes. I’m a curator now.
What paintings would I show? How many pieces of Art? What size paintings would look right. How would I stage the show hanging? And since it was such short notice, (one-month) how quickly could I pull this whole show together efficiently & still enjoy life?
Here’s what I did.
Site survey of the Wine Cellar on Main with my friend Greg Oleanik’s show in place.
Side wall of Greg Oleanik’s show at the Wine Cellar on Main
I took my point & shoot camera, pencil, paper & a sturdy metal measuring tape & scouted out the available show space. Luckily, my friend Greg Oleanik currently had a show hanging there so I was able to take snapshots of all his work hanging in place.
Mock-up of what size paintings I will need for my upcoming Art Show
Side wall mock-up for my Art Show planning
I measured the height & widths of all the available spaces within the room, keeping them sequentially numbered along with photos of each space. I spoke with the proprietor, Lindsay Ostrander & we discussed the fact that she had installed a hanging system with rails & rods so that I wouldn’t need to put nails in her walls. This info I took back to my studio & headed for the computer.
I imported the photos into Photoshop. I created a panorama of the interior hanging space with photos of Greg’s show. Then I made a mock-up of the walls & created placeholders for the different sizes of my own Artwork since I know what sizes of Art I generally work in.
With this in place I was able to count how many and what sizes of paintings I would need to have available to put into the Art Show.
I felt calmer already. Next step was planning on how much creating was ahead of me & what I could possibly hope to accomplish in such a short span of time while also leaving me time to publicize the show. I wanted to make sure I left enough time to share the news about the show with family, friends, and with all my past, present & future customers.
These are the creative and committed women aka “Commuting Women” who took part in the Delaware Canal Festival winning the “Most Beautiful” decorated canoe prize. These women took part in planting thousands of daffodil bulbs along the canal & other prominent locations this past spring.
I was pleased to donate my “Single Daffodil” artwork for use on their team T-Shirts. I applaud their energy, their commitment to the beautification of their community & their sense of humor. Kudos!
Friends of the Delaware Canal sporting their Yellow Daffodil shirts celebrating their planting of thousands of daffodil bulbs along the canal & other prominent Yardley locations.
This is a copy of a letter they sent when they donated their prize money winnings to The Friends of the Delaware Canal.
Friends of the Delaware Canal
The Locktender’s House
145 South Main St.
New Hope PA 18938
Enclosed is a check for $75.00 payable to the Friends of the Delaware Canal, representing the prize money the “Commuting Women” won for our “Most Beautiful” decorated canoe in the Yardley Boat Parade as part of the Delaware Canal Festival.
The award by the “Commuting Women” for “Most Beautiful” decorated canoe in the Yardley Boat Parade as part of the Delaware Canal Festival.
Our theme was “Thank You Bucks Beautiful,” celebrating and thanking the Bucks Beautiful organization for planting thousand of daffodil bulbs along the canal and in other prominent Yardley locations. When the daffodils all bloomed this spring, it was a spectacular sight!
Our group is comprised of “mature” women who commute to work in Philadelphia, either currently or in the past, on SEPTA Regional Rail trains. We had lots of fun planning and constructing our boat parade entry, and we are proud of our ingenuity and resourcefulness – using only items we already had on hand around the house. Lots of paper plates, muffin cups, skewers, and plastic tablecloths – as one young observer commented, “That’s a lot of arts and crafts.”
Along the way we made a new friend, Mary Ahern, from Northport NY who generously donated her daffodil art design to our matching parade-day T-shirts.
All in all, a fun and rewarding experience. Thanks for a great day – this is why we chose to live in the small towns along the Delaware Canal. We are happy to donate our prize winnings to the Friends of the Delaware Canal.
Virginia Hamby, Yardley
Dorothy Judd, Washington Crossing
Jeannette Leighton, Yardley
Mary Ahern’s “Single Yellow Daffodil which was used as the image for the Friends of the Delaware Canal T-shirts.
Mary Ahern is an artist member of the Huntington Arts Council. Much of her art is inspired by her garden, a piece of art in its own right that is constantly changing. Her husband, Dave, often comments that her plants seem to be on wheels since Mary is constantly moving her plants from flowerbed to flowerbed. She uses the texture and color of the plants to create beautiful works of art in her garden.
In Northport NY the peonies bloom in June
Walking through Mary’s garden and listening to her speak about it reveals how much thought was put behind each and every placement. Mary uses her plants to create artwork just as she uses oil paint. Each plant has specific colors or textures that can be used to compliment or contrast the other plants it is put with. Certain beds of flowers are based on the color of those certain plants, i.e., mixing deep reds with frosted greens. Others are based on the texture of the plant, i.e. small leaves, low ground covering, etc.
However it doesn’t stop there. Each of these flowerbeds is incorporated into the garden as a whole and even the pathways that flow between each have been carefully laid out. The flowers that Ahern cultivates influence her artwork greatly. She likes to have samples of the subjects she is working on around her. “I’m not trying to duplicate what a camera can do. I’m interpreting in a realistic style how I see the subject.”
The Krinkled White is a single peony prized for its simplicity
When you step into Mary’s home and studio, it is as though the garden is continuing inside as well. Her art work adorns the walls and upstairs in the studio her love for the garden is transformed into pieces of art.
Mary was first introduced to gardening by her Uncle Teddy who was a gardener himself. “Every time we visited, I loved to help him in the garden and when I acquired my first plant at around the age of five, I made it very clear to everyone in my family that I was the only one allowed to care for it. Since I have always held a passion for the garden, it was only natural that it showed up in my artwork.”
Mary uses many different mediums to create her works of art. They include oils, watercolors, and digital painting. The amount of care and detail incorporated in each piece is absolutely astounding. She creates Digital Flower and Shell Paintings as well as paintings using Traditional media.
Mary has been digitally designing for over 25 years now. She first started at Chyron Corporation, located in Melville, working in Sales and Marketing Positions. Later, Mary began her own graphic design company called Online Design which, at that time, was one of the few to be 100% digital.
Although Mary Ahern has been painting for over 30 years now, as a young child she never really became interested in the arts. Music was a large influence during her high school years: she was in the band and even conducted, which was rare for a women to do during that time.
It wasn’t until Mary was in her 20’s that she became interested in art, when one of her friends gave her a book about the work of the artist, Georgia O’Keeffe This influenced her to take a class at the local Y and when she picked up the paintbrush she knew it was her calling. “The paintbrush seemed like an extension of my arm. Since then art has never been a hobby but a part of my life.” She went on from there and got a degree in Fine Arts from Queens College and has been creating ever since.
Four different background treatments of the Krinkled White Peony
For those interested in pursuing a career in the arts Mary’s advice is to develop business and marketing skills in addition to the skills you develop to create your Art. The web and social networking sites make marketing available to everyone. “Whether it’s a website, a blog and alsoTwitter, Facebook or a combination, it is important for potential buyers to see the artist behind the paintings because that also helps to sell your art.”
She believes that a career in the arts is a very tough “glamour” business and you must have entrepreneurial skills as well as lots of determination to be successful. Mary Ahern also states that there are not many things more rewarding then to have someone who has purchased one of her Fine Art pieces tell her how much pleasure they have received every day from seeing her work hanging in their home It makes her smile.
• To see some of her beautiful artwork, head over to her website,
The historic use of limiting editions of prints was during a time when prints were made from art carved or drawn onto stone, wood or other surfaces that degraded with use. As more impressions were made the surface wore out and the image became less crisp. Limiting the quantity of the printing run helped to control the quality of the print and of course the value.
Digital printing does not suffer from this problem since there is no degradation in resolution, or crispness, from one print to the next. In fact, what can happen as technology evolves and equipment gets better and faster, later prints may be of higher quality then original prints made years earlier in the cycle.
New Technology Offers New Forms of Creativity
So how do I offer my customers a solution to their desire for a unique piece of my Art rather then the Open Edition pieces I generally offer?
Custom Art Work Created Just For You
Custom Editions brings my customers into a collaborative effort in the artistic process of helping me to create a unique Art Work specific for their home or office design ideas.
Today was the second and last day of the 37th Annual Greater Westhampton Chamber of Commerce Mary O. Fritchie Outdoor Juried Art Show
The overcast weather encouraged many customers to come out and enjoy purchasing Art
The overcast weather encouraged many customers not to go to the beach but to come out and enjoy purchasing ArtThe weather took quite a change from yesterday’s very sunny and overly hot and humid conditions. The humidity stayed but the sun and extreme heat disappeared.
The show opened officially at 10am and was very busy for quite a few hours. People were in a buoyant and buying mood, which was very nice to see. The current economic environment is still oppressive but many folks seemed to be carrying home their treasured purchases, large and small.
Behind the scenes is my husband Dave prepping additional Designer Prints for sale
I enjoyed so much seeing customer/friends who stopped by to catch up on life. Some of these collectors began buying work from me when I was showing my traditional Botanical mixed media paintings at Art Shows and Festivals. That was quite some years ago. I love hearing that they’re still enjoying seeing my Art hanging in their homes!
About 3:30 while standing talking to visitors, I could feel the weather abruptly change. Apparently so did many others since there was a slow but steady departure of customers over the course of the next half hour. After checking by phone with various friends living around Long Island, we knew a storm was coming through.
The weather changed and you could feel rain coming even before the drizzle started
I made the decision to break down an hour earlier than the official end of the show. Good thing we did. My husband Dave and I have the set-up and take down very well coordinated and we packaged the Art, the furniture and the tent very quickly. We completed the dissembling and loading of the trailer in an hour and a half. By the time all was loaded into the trailer and I was sitting in the truck starting the engine, the rain came down in full force.
We knew the storm was coming and the customers weren’t so we packed our things and left.
We were both soaked but the Art wasn’t. We drove towards home through torrential rain and pulled safely into our flooded driveway. The storm was traveling from west to east so as we got closer to home the rain had begun to subside. By the time we showered and changed, the sun was out again. We went to eat at a restaurant with an outdoor terrace and celebrated another great Art Show.
The customers came to see the show early in the day before or later, after they visited the beach
Today, August 2009 was the first day of the 37th Annual Greater Westhampton Chamber of Commerce Mary O. Fritchie Outdoor Juried Art Show
The weather was very humid and in the high 80’sF which made it extremely uncomfortable when bringing in the Art from the trailer and setting it up in the festival booth. We brought in the furniture which helps to complete the showroom aspect of the booth. I bought the desk from Pro Panels, the print racks from Richeson via Blick and the bookcases Home Decorators.
We hung the awnings to keep the sun off the Art and the Artist but it really didn’t provide any relief from the heat. If I didn’t move at all I could tolerate the heat but that didn’t happen for most of the day.
The bad thing about a sunny day in the Hamptons is that the customers spend most of their time at the beach rather than shopping. Traffic was heavy when the show opened at ten and again at 3 when the heat started to calm down.
It is very tricky to do an Art Show in a vacation beach resort. You want slightly overcast so no one goes to the beach but no rain or wind. It is hard to book the exact perfect weather for an Art Show, but I keep trying.
What: 37th Annual Greater Westhampton Chamber of Commerce Mary O. Fritchie Outdoor Juried Art Show.
When: Saturday, August 01, 2009 10:00 AM
Sunday, August 02, 2009 10:00 AM
Where: The Westhampton Beach Village Green
& Mill Road between Main Street & Church Lane. Westhampton Beach, NY 11978
Side curtains are attached to the frame by a system of zippers and straps
So since we checked the weather report and noticed that MORE RAIN is expected later in the evening, my husband Dave and I drove out to Westhampton Beach, (about an hour from our home) to set up our show booth earlier on Friday than usual. We’ve been doing this show now for a few years and pay for it a year in advance so we can get the same spot on the Village Green. It is space #47 in case you’re dropping by.
As you can see we were among the earliest Artists to show up. Considering how the wind picked up I’m hoping we made the right decision. We like setting up the day before since it is so hectic in the morning with over 120 Artists trying to bring in their tents and move in their Art. The amount of parking is minimal and the amount of trucks, vans and trailers is great.
At Art Festivals we try to set the booth up the day before and bring then the Art in on Show day
We have found over time that once we set up the EZ-up tent and zip up the 4 heavy-duty side curtains the wind blows around it rather than under. We bought the mesh panels and side curtains from Flourish.com. We also have 4 bags, each filled with about 45 pounds of sand, suspended from each strut holding down each corner. This park has an underground sprinkler system so you can’t use stakes to anchor the tent as you can in some shows.
Setting up the tent, mesh panels, side curtains and weights took us about an hour. We’ve really streamlined our workflow.
I’ve just created a series of digital paintings of a Krinkled White Peony that was blooming in my garden this past June.
For my inspiration I chose an herbaceous white single peony that was introduced into cultivation in 1928. The plant grows to about 3 feet tall and wide. This year with all the rain it grew so very tall that I had to add a peony cage to one of them since it was so heavy due to the huge amount of flowers that it produced.
A single white “Krinkled Peony” which grew in my garden this June.
The petals are so delicate they remind me of crepe paper that I used to use when I made my paper flowers as a child. The golden yellow stamens add a dramatic accent.
One of the very rare sunny spots in my garden hosts the peonies.
I’ve been tending this plant for over a decade and a few years ago moved it from a rather shady location where it bloomed each year but didn’t flourish. Though most of my garden is in some percentage of shade I decided to divide and transplant this perennial into the sunniest part of my garden. Since then it has more than tripled the amount of flowers it produces.
In this series of work I’ve decided to augment the dramatic simplicity of the single peony with different colored backgrounds. Each of these pieces will work individually but they also work as a group.
Single White Peony series of digital paintings.
As with many of my other works, I offer these digital paintings in a variety of sizes and framing treatments. These Fine Art works are available on Fine Art paper and also on UV treated canvas either framed or gallery wrapped.
If a specific design plan comes to mind, I can also customize the color backgrounds to suit the creative intent.
I will be showing these Art Works for the first time at the Northport Art in the Park, Saturday, July 25, 2009 from noon until 5pm.
Hope you can stop by the show and say hello. If you can’t and you would like to find out more about my work, you can contact me on Facebook, Twitter, my website MaryAhernArtist.com and here on my blog by posting a comment.
The North Shoreian has just published their April Home and Garden issue with my “Single Yellow Daffodil” on the front cover.
A delightful article about my work is featured inside this publication which is a magazine covering the North Shore (of Long Island) Arts, Culture & Politics.
The North Shoreian. April 2009 Home & Garden Issue
This is an exerpt of the article:
Classically trained painter, and Northport native, Mary Ahern, has spent the past twenty-five years studying and mastering digital painting and design. Mary’s interest in digital painting was stimulated when she was working for a company that created graphic technology for use in the television and production industry. Beginning as a salesperson in the early 1980’s, Mary began learning about the newest advances in this medium. As technology progressed, these high-tech digital systems became a practical expense for the small business owner and were readily available. In the early 1990’s, Mary invested in her own system and created her own graphic design company, Online Design. Her company was 100% digital which was unique at a time when paste-ups and mechanicals were still the norm in graphics.
Champagne Poppies on a Brown Background
In addition to graphic design, Mary has combined her interests and talent in painting to create her own style and method of art. Her digital paintings are created by using the computer as her medium. Mary trades in her paintbrushes and paints for a pressure sensitive stylus and graphic tablet…
Mary’s abilities as an artist are not limited to digital painting. As a traditional painter, Mary is very talented. Mary mixes mediums, such as watercolor, oil paints, pastels, colored pencils and graphite, to create her works of art. She has been doing traditional painting and drawing for over thirty years and her work reflects many hours of time and commitment to the art.
In addition to art, Mary is very devoted to growing a private garden. She spends many hours cultivating the soil, planting, pruning and nurturing her flowers. Not surprisingly either, she adds a degree in Ornamental Horticulture to her already impressive resume.
The Artist Mary Ahern with some of her Digital Paintings
Finding something that inspires is one of the most important steps for Mary as an artist. Mary states, “It is very important that I really like the subject that I choose because I spend so much time with it…
Mary’s clear dedication to her garden transpires into her devotion to her art. On Mary’s impressive and self designed website, you can visit her two blogs. One is devoted to art in general, touching on her visits to various locations, book reviews and her journey as an artist. Mary also has a blog devoted to gardening, in which she posts photographs of her beautiful plants as they grow and transform, and even shows the plants alongside her art that she has created in homage to the specific bloom…
If you would like to learn more about North Shoreian Artist Mary Ahern, her garden, her masterpieces or to purchase her work, visit her website: http://www.MaryAhernArtist.com