Mary Anne Warner
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
I started studying painting when I was ten. I can’t say it has been a straight road to the present, for there were many detours along the way. My aunt was an artist and she gave me a set of pastels when I graduated from college. That set of Rembrandts waited many years before I was ready to give them the attention they deserved.
After receiving a Masters of Fine Arts in Painting from George Washington University, I began teaching illustration, drawing, and design at Northern Virginia Community College. My thesis had been a 7’ x 16’ wildlife mural for the City of Alexandria. That began a short career as a wildlife illustrator. My clients included National Wildlife Federation and National Geographic. During this period, I helped found, along with other illustrators like Jack Pardue, the Illustrators Club of Maryland, Virginia, and DC. Our goal was to give a single voice to the many illustrators working in the area.
After a break to raise children and care for ailing parents, I began to have more time to work in the studio and the pastels were waiting. Having never had a class or workshop in pastels, I just started playing. I remembered from an art history class that Degas would spray his pastel with fixative and then rework them, so I began working on Canson paper with my Rembrandts. Then I would spray the image with fixative and rework with a hard pastel pencil. I used the pencil to blend the same as I would do in oil paint.
After joining the Maryland Pastel Society, I found out how much I had to learn about this versatile medium. Through the demonstrations at meetings and workshops that I have attended, my knowledge has increased tremendously. With the interaction with the other artists, my work is evolving and maturing. The pastel work has begun to have an influence on my oil painting as well.
Presently, my husband, photographer David Allison, and I are working on a series of images from south Central Pennsylvania. The area has a diverse landscape of farmland and forest. We have been able to work in this area for the past year and really see how each season changes the spirit of the land and our response to it.