Painted Mary

Maker Spotlight

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photos by Nicola Parisi

Painted Mary is a collection of artwork by San Francisco based artist Mary Finlayson, who fuses her love of art and design with a knack for finding personality in her environment and capturing it through bright, eye-catching color.

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Where did your business name come from? Is there an interesting story behind it?

Not really. My name is Mary. My business is Painting. Sometime its best to keep things simple. 😉

Have you always been passionate about design?

Yes, definitely. Art and design have always been a part of my life. My mom often reminds me of how everyday in kindergarten I’d bring her home drawings to put on the fridge, and Bob Ross was my ultimate hero around that same age. I went on to get a degree in Fine Arts, Art Education and Art Therapy.

Why did you start working in this particular craft?

I feel like I am at once very new to this field and a veteran of it at the same time. I’ve been working toward this goal for too many years to count. I worked as an art teacher/art therapist for many years and would paint and draw in my spare time. I was very fortunate to have summer months free where I could dedicate a fair amount of time to painting. Although I really enjoyed my job I really dreaded when September would roll around which would inevitably result in my art being put on hiatus. Finally in the spring of this year (after much convincing from my husband) I took the plunge to focus on my art full-time. I’m still figuring it all out and am constantly learning, but I’m excited to finally be able to focus on making art everyday!

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What do you think sets your designs apart from others?

I try to capture a sense of personality in each environment I paint. I photograph homes and objects I visit then create flat compositions that skew and distort the compositions my paintings are based on. I paint primarily in gouache to attain a vibrancy that is hard to capture in other mediums.

Have you had any major failures? If so, what were some important insights gained?

For a long time I got stuck working on commissions with other people’s ideas, rather than creating my own. While it was a technically fulfilling exercise I was missing the conceptual side. Going through that experience has helped motivate me to work without compromise.

Have you sacrificed anything to create your business? If so, what was it, and do you have any regrets?

I had to quit teaching to create Painted Mary, which I had done for about a decade. While I wouldn’t trade this for anything I do miss the kids and being around a community of people. There are no silly kids here. Just a weird dog and husband.

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What has been your proudest moment since creating your business?

I was lucky to sit down David Pagel, an art critic at the LA Times, who gave me a lot of words of encouragement. It’s scary to head out on your own, and to put so much of yourself into your work. It was reassuring to have someone so fluent in the art world to give me advice and support.

How does the city you live in influence your work?

Every place I work influences my work. The light around me seems to effect my work, I’ve noticed my color palette lighten since moving to California. I use a lot more pink and yellow in my work now then I did when I was living in Vancouver, B.C, while out East I used a lot more blues.

What valuable experience did you have before starting your business?

None. I just jumped in. I read some books and talked to friends, but there was no magic moment. I don’t think any piece helped, I learned by doing. Maybe not the best approach but I’m still swimming!

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What made you take this leap into being your own boss?

It was just time. After years of teaching it felt like the right time to chase my dreams.

What are some inspirations for your work?

Hockney. Matisse. Stuart Davis. All are people I admire and try to emulate.

What are some tips or suggestions you’d like to offer to fellow makers?

There’s never a good time to start. You just have to start, then try to keep your momentum.

Anything else you want to tell us about your business?

I made one of my paintings into a 6×9 foot hand-made rug! Soon I will be making more.

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