Landscape painter Mary Derrick is an outstanding example to show it’s never too late to begin one’s love affair with art. More importantly, however, was the moment it happened, which has kept memories fresh of the person who led her to it.

Canadian painter Mary Derrick has always been artistically inclined, working in creative — albeit stressful — roles that have allowed that to surface with regularity. However, as Derrick admits, her career limited the amount of time she could dedicate to her own painting and creative endeavors, until recently. “To be honest, while I had always loved art, I worked in high-stress — but thankfully creative — roles, so I have never had a lot of time to give to my art, but I have been focusing on it since 2012 and started exhibiting in 2014,” she says. “I now devote myself exclusively to it.”

We’re all better for it as well because Derrick indeed has a lovely knack for landscape and, in particular, atmospheric light and moody space. How Derrick ultimately turned to painting more seriously is a valuable lesson to all creatively inclined individuals: It’s never too late to begin your journey. Derrick recounts this pivotal moment, which itself is a beautiful tale of companionship: “In truth, how I started painting was through my mother-in-law, who was a wonderful watercolorist. In her final days, I went to spend some time with her and knowing that painting was her passion, I asked her to give me some lessons. Of course she obliged and since that moment my love affair with painting was ignited.”

Mary Derrick, “Water’s Edge,” 2016, oil on canvas, 30 x 48 in. (c) Mary Derrick 2016
Mary Derrick, “Water’s Edge,” 2016, oil on canvas, 30 x 48 in. (c) Mary Derrick 2016

One can only imagine the delight her mother-in-law had in passing along her vast knowledge — opening the door to another artist as she closed her own. Indeed, there can be little doubt that whenever Derrick picks up her brush and dabs it into aquamarine or vermilion red, the fond memories of her mentor are as fresh and lovely as ever.

Perhaps this is part of the reason Derrick’s pictures have such a calming and nostalgic spirit to them; perhaps we’re projecting, but regardless, there is a moving softness and atmospheric quality to her work that deserves attention. This could also be a result of the painter’s creative process, which is almost entirely intuitive. Derrick suggests, “I very rarely use pictures as sources for inspiration, but instead paint from my head. I find this process freeing — about 90 percent of the work happens all at once. Over the next few days I spend some time considering the work intermittently before adding some final touches.”

Mary Derrick, “Daydreaming,” 2016, oil on canvas, 48 x 60 in. (c) Mary Derrick 2016
Mary Derrick, “Daydreaming,” 2016, oil on canvas, 48 x 60 in. (c) Mary Derrick 2016

Although the final works are beautiful representations, the emotions they evoke in viewers seem to dominate. “While my paintings use representations of nature, they have little to do with nature and everything to do with emotion,” the artist says. “To feel free to express the myriad of emotions we face and to let them take shape, sometimes calm and peaceful and even serene, sometimes filled with awe and reverence, and then other times with confusion, angst, or rage.”

Since beginning to exhibit in 2014, Derrick has found herself predominantly in group shows, with a few solo events in her native Canada. However, the artist seeks to explore options in the United States. In June 2017, Derrick will mount a solo exhibition — though details are forthcoming. Stay tuned!

To learn more, visit Mary Derrick.

This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.

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