I happily took the Long Island Railroad into Penn Station to then walk to Chelsea in NYC from my perch in Northport Long Island. This venture, on a cold winter day, was to gather in the brilliant colors and environments of the watercolor paintings created by the Artist, Joseph Raffael. These large-scale works envelop you into the tropical gardens and seaside shells which are the models and subjects of his work.
Some feature strongly defined focal points while other subjects are diffused, allowing you to meander through the tangles of flowers, leaves and stems. Koi provide the pivotal “Turning Point” between the water and air while leaving ripples which you know will be gone again in moments. Tibetan prayer flags flutter in the breeze sharing the brilliance of Koi colors. Time, movement and transience are significant subjects in these meditative paintings.
“THE WORK OF FOUR EXTRAORDINARY ARTISTS EACH ONE FOCUSING ON THE UNIQUE AND VARIED WAYS THAT COLOR LIVES IN OUR LIVES”
– William Grabowski – Curator
March 26 – June 17, 2013 Art-trium Gallery. 25 Melville Park Rd, Melville NY 11747
Friday, April 5, 2013. 5:30 – 7:00 pm With music performance by Sally Shorrock and Friends
This Show is Sponsored by the Huntington Arts Council
SOME OF THE MIXED MEDIA PAINTINGS ON VIEW by the Artist, Mary Ahern
“Light Blue Iris in the Garden”
I grew these delightful light blue Iris germanica in my garden one year but they sadly haven’t come back with such beauty since. Iris borers and not enough sun perhaps. I solve this ephemeral behavior by painting the flowers from my garden. No pesticides, no fungicides, no weeding, no deadheading. They are in perfect condition all year round.
“Lilies in the Garden”
As a gardener and an Artist I’ve been able to combine both of these passions.Though my garden has been featured on various Garden Tours, I guarantee that it doesn’t look as good as the fantasy garden in this painting.
“Siberian Iris Trio”
A small patch of these Siberian Irises were in the garden when I bought my home in 1989. They are short lived during the season but very long lived over the years.
“Daylilies and Rudbeckia”
I paired this combination of flowers on my canvas for the their jovial and robust colors. Noticing their form, color and bloom time I transplanted them to create a seasonal vignette in my late summer garden as well.
“Conversation Piece Azalea”
These multi-colored flowers all bloom on the same shrub in my garden collection. Another nice thing about this cultivar is that it blooms a bit later than other Azaleas, thereby extended the colorful season.
MY ART BLOG
I wrote an article on my Art Blog recently describing how subconsciously I was influenced by the famous Matisse painting, “The Dance.”
Studying Art History for decades seeps into your creative mind and emerges in ways that you don’t expect. Though I majored in Art in college, it’s the years of continuing pursuit that really make the subtle and not so subtle differences in an Artist’s work.
MY ARTIST STATEMENT
My Art is driven by the pursuit of multiple passions. In my garden I grow the delicate & ephemeral models which are the subjects of my paintings. I transform them through a complex series of digital technologies and traditional mediums.
I have a degree in horticulture, a degree in Fine Arts and my entire career has been spent in Digital Imaging technologies. These are the tools I use to create my Art.
Creating and reinventing my gardens larger than life size demonstrates the profound importance they play in my own personal centering.
My paintings actually start in my garden. This is where I grow the flowers, shrubs and trees, which are a part of the workflow of my creative output. The sun and shade play a role in all my compositions.
I actually consider the creative work to be seamless whether at work in the garden or at work in my studios. The up close and personal view of the flowers when I’m weeding, deadheading, trimming and tending allow me the time to become intimately aware of each flower’s details. This is something I like to convey in my work.
Light Blue Iris Germanica
These light blue irises came to dance in the breezes in the front garden, which I can see through the French doors in my living room. Though short lived, their ephemeral character is part of the fun of capturing them in my Art.
Phlox stolonifera, ‘Sherwood Purple’ in front of a Karume azalea in the woodland walks.
The composition of this painting was created using elements from different areas of my garden. The woodland walks with their large hemlock trunks for the vertical accents, which mimic the verticals of the irises. The rare spots of sunshine in the front garden, which hold the irises and many other perennial sun lovers, give me many sources of inspiration during the seasons.
Rose Montage has 5 individual digital paintings of Roses. Framed size is 8 x 39.5″
This is the month for the annual silent art auction fundraiser in support of the Huntington Arts Council’s exhibition program at the Main Street Petite Gallery and Art-trium Gallery in Melville.
November 9 – November 30, 2012
Huntington Arts Council Petite Gallery
213 Main St.
Huntington NY 11743
Contact: Florence Dallari, Asst. Dir. 631-271-8423
Huntington Arts Council Website: http://www.huntingtonarts.org
This year I’ve donated my White Rose Montage to this worthy fund-raiser.
I designed this long 8″ x 39″ montage for all the folks who tell me they can’t buy my work since they don’t have anymore wall space. This piece fits nicely between windows or as an accent piece at the edge of a wall. It has 5 individual digital paintings of roses for all those rosarian collectors out there.
The holidays are coming and you can do two nice things for the price of one. Bid on this piece to help support the Huntington Arts Council and then give it as a gift to one of your special friends.
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.
One of the methods I use to visualize my Art is to take snapshots of my models and modify them on my computer. Since I’m not a photographer I only have a small point and shoot camera that I use to take photos in my garden or in my studio.
I took this snapshot of these orange tulips using natural light in my studio
I import these snapshots onto my computer and using Photoshop I delete the backgrounds, modify the colors and otherwise play around with the image. I print the images from my Epson printers onto matte cardstock papers.
Using Photoshop on my Mac, I play around with colors and composition
Then, using Winsor Newton watercolors, I put down my first layer of paint. Once dry I used my set of Prismacolor colored pencils to draw over the watercolor.
In this Mixed Media Art work I used colored pencil over watercolor
For some reason I find this process to be very relaxing and meditative for me. If I need some calmness in my life, I can go to my studio at any time and pick up right where I left off. No fuss, no muss, no bother.
There are so many ways to create paintings. As an Artist who has been creating for over 35 years I have developed a variety of methods to arrive at my finished work. Sometimes it is interesting to get a peek behind the process, so here is one style I enjoy.
Snapshot of some Orange Tulips I used as the basis of this series of Art works
Since I’m not a photographer, I take snapshot of flowers I either buy or grow. I usually select them for color or just for form. I find myself attracted to large bold shapes rather than the more frilly inflorescences. I then decide what mediums I will work in and whether there will be one finished Art work in one or more mediums or whether the work will be part of a series.
I love creating tonal drawings so I often do a finished piece in graphite before I start a painting just because I like the feel of drawing. It also is a great way to work out values of highlights and shading.
Tonal drawing of a tulip. I use a pair of magnifying lenses which I hook onto my bifocals to help me see the details
If the work is part of a series, I need to imagine the size of each piece and the total overall impression I’m looking for. This ups the level of complexity considerably and actually makes for quite a nice challenge to my visual imagination and my technical consistency.
For a series of work I need to choose the size of each work and the size of the overall series.
I also need to create a composition that stands alone as well as works for the series.
I used my altered snapshots to help me come up with my composition in this series
My work must not only be accomplished to my own standards for each piece but it must be consistent across all the work. This can be tricky if you don’t create all the work during the same or close to the same period of time.
The Joseph Raffael show at the Nancy Hoffman Gallery at 520 West 27th St in Chelsea New York was a burst of color and soul. The show was there from November 2009 through January 10, 2010. For those of you who missed this wonderous presentation, I created a video of the show.
Visiting this show brought such a burst of the voluptuous joy of color and passion to an otherwise gray day that I was compelled to share it with others.
Joseph Raffael douses himself in his watercolors. His colors flood and pool in the most controlled display of virtuosity I’ve ever seen in this medium. Though in this show his subject matter seems to be primarily flowers, his style is the antithesis of botanical illustration.
As a matter of fact, Elisabeth, my fellow Artist friend and I gallery hopped to this show on the heels of a visit to the ASBA (American Society of Botanical Artists) show at The Horticultural Society of NY. The contrast of two exquisite art forms, both employing watercolor and using flowers as subject, was astounding.
For an extra treat, I would suggest visiting Joseph Raffael’s website and taking some time to view the meditative videos of him as he paints.
Take a moment to calm down and become immersed in the process of Art. It will make your day. It always does so for me.
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,
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
My Garden and my Art work side by side. Both require me to make aesthetic judgements about composition, scale, color, texture and style. When I’m deciding where to plant the flowers I’ve hauled home on my endless trips to the nurseries it doesn’t seem that much different to me then when I’m deciding how to compose them on a two dimensional surface.
I think about what style I’m looking for, what colors will work together, whether the scale of the placement works for me. I think about the type of flower and texture of the leaves. I make decisions about the 3D composition of the garden much like the 2D composition decisions on a painting.
The garden adds so many additional layers of complexity since the artwork is moving in time with nature, the seasons, the elements, and time. The painting remains caught in a moment.
Capturing that ephemeral moment is so gratifying to me in my Fine Art. I control it, unlike my Garden which is usually out of control.
You can visit this Watercolor painting on my website in The Work or you can buy a print of it in The Store.
Grape muscari, otherwise known as Grape Hyacinths live close to the ground. For years I never took much notice of them except for the little spots of brilliant purple that bounced so nicely against the bright yellow daffodils they bloomed along with in April.
Then I got down. Hands and knees down.
What a surprise! How intricate the little flowers are. Little bells dance around a central stem forming a small pyramid. This inflorescence changes shape as it ages and can be more and less tightly knit.
The individual purple doesn’t seem to change on each bell but the overall purple varies when viewed at a distance based upon the tightness of the overall flower.
I enjoyed these 4″ bulbs so much in my garden that I bought a bag of them from Costco one year and low and behold the next spring the flowers that bloomed were very different from my originals. They were more blue then purple and had a more rounded then pyramidal over shape.
So I googled Grape Muscari and found a world of cultivars I didn’t previously know existed. That’s one of the things that is so much fun about gardening. You are constantly in a learning mode. You are in for surprises every year and every season. The knowledge and information you acquire just keeps on growing, along with your garden.
So now I know that so far in my garden I have Muscari armeniacum and M. azureaum. Next year I’m sure to have more.
When I made my Digital Mixed Media Painting of my Grape Muscari I was careful to recreate the basal growth of the leaves. It would not have been accurate if I’d placed the leaves higher on the stem. The painting would have looked like a plant Frankenstein. As a Garden Artist, that is not what I’m trying to create.
You can view this Grape Muscari piece in my Store.
Isn’t that a fantastic name? Dicentra spectabilis. It just rolls out of your mouth in a lilting singsong kind of rhythm doesn’t it? I love to say it quietly under my breath as I walk around my woodland garden in May. Not too loud so as to scare the birds and the neighbors (and myself for that matter.)
I love their color pink. I have some white ones, , but the pink ones are just so luscious. They reseed very freely for me and I’m able to reposition the offspring into springtime vignettes.
Dicentra spectabilis close-up
When I bought this property in 1989 there was one plant of Dicentra native here and I’ve managed over time to spread the wealth around my own garden and also with other gardeners. What a treat!
I don’t mind that they die back in the summer because it gives me another planting opportunity but some of the holes they leave behind can be very BIG planting opportunities…all the more opportunity for creativity to kick in.
I made a Digital Mixed Media Painting, which I call, “Dicentra Necklace”. I think of these joyful little gems in my garden, decorating the light greens of spring with their pink heart shaped “jewelry”.
I have a number of varieties of White Daffodils growing in my garden but I don’t feel that I ever have enough. Since I am over run by squirrels I try to focus away from crocus and my beloved tulips. (After all, both my parents were born in Holland!) Squirrels consider the bulbs as an entrée and the flowers, if they arrive, as delectable garnish but they leave my daffodils alone.
The abundant shade in my garden causes challenges to many of my daffodil plantings but I still crave the color in early spring. One of the fun parts of designing gardens is figuring out how to hide the declining leaves on the daffodils as they absorb the chlorophyll for next year’s growth.
I’ve been known to hide them using daylilies, Siberian iris and ornamental grasses. I’ve stopped braiding the leaves since it seems so demeaning to their dignity.
I created a Digital Mixed Media Painting from one of these white daffodils. I love the way daffodil leaves have a slight twist to them. One of things I kept in mind when composing the piece is that the stem is offset where it enters the back of the flower, unlike a tulip which is a straight up vertical.
Another issue is making sure that I paint the shadows different from when the “light” hits the round stem vs. when it hits a flat leaf.
You can see this Single White Daffodil in my Store. I created various sizes for purchase. I think it has a rather heroic feel to the composition.