Another Type of Canvas
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.
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.”
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.
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,
• Visit her Garden at her blog
The Garden Artist – My Garden, My Art, Where Passions Merge
• View behind the scenes of an Artist on her Art Blog
Art Naturally – Musings Of My Life As An Artist
• Mary’s step-daughter Sharon Ruedeman made a video about her garden which you can view on YouTube at:
This article was derived from an interview with Mary Ahern, The Garden-Artist by Diane Brown and produced by Dianne Matus of the Huntington Arts Council.