By: Marty Damon

Acclaimed Venice painter Mary Erickson could likely still produce the wedding cake of your dreams, but having just completed her 5,004th painting, she’d have trouble finding the time. It’s been an eclectic journey for Mary, from business school student to pastry chef to learning the ropes behind an art gallery counter, but each step formed the foundation for her successful thirty-year career.

Mary made her first sale at the age of 13, but was unable to attend art school, a circumstance she says proved to be, “The best thing that never happened to me.” Instead, she took business courses and worked as a pastry chef through her twenties. During these years she learned how to manage a business effectively and to deal with the fiscal responsibilities it entails, skills that proved invaluable as her career took off.

Mary continued building her knowledge after moving to Venice in 1986, where she was employed in a local gallery, and learned framing, marketing, and built her contacts in the art world. For years she carried her easel to the beach to fit in a few hours of painting before and after work until one day she brought a watercolor she’d just finished into the gallery. It sold that day. She brought in another one the next day and it sold as well. Seven years after she’d arrived in Venice, she began painting full time and now her work is a fixture in galleries in Charlotte, NC; Charleston, SC; St. Simons Island, GA; Naples, FL; Sarasota, FL; and Newport, RI.

Mary’s Venice paintings usually get their start on Casperson beach, one of her favorite places to paint because of its unspoiled beauty. You’ll find her there at sunrise, catching the cast of the light and the mood of a scene. She may produce a finished plein air piece, or carry a study back to her studio for further work. Ultimately, her goal is to bring her viewer into the painting to imagine the wind, the sun, and the sounds of that moment for themselves.
Mary’s reverence for nature is evident in her work, but also the groups to which she belongs. She is a founding member of the Southern Plein Air Artists, a juried member of Artists for Conservation and the Society of Animal Artists, the American Society of Marine Artists, and artists’ organizations dedicated to recording the southern landscape. In fact, every Mary Erickson print edition includes a special edition of 100 prints used exclusively to raise funds for conservation, preservation, and educational organizations throughout the USA.

As a world traveler, mentor, and ardent conservationist, Mary carries her passion for art and nature with her from Maine to Florida. After enjoying the winter at her studio on Venice Island, she’s on the road.

This spring her first stop will be France, where she will follow in the tradition of earlier plein air painters by gathering field studies to use as the basis of larger works. In the summer she’ll return to Port Clyde, Maine where she rents a large house and opens it to other artists for days of painting and evenings of art discussions.

With fall she plans to return to Europe, this time for the scenery of Italy, and in November she’ll be back to settle into her studio in Marshville, NC, where her 39 acre home will be one day become an artist retreat and bird sanctuary.

Visit www.HighRidgeGardens.org for more information.

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