Mary Pettis, “Splendor in the Grass,” 2015, oil on linen, 21 1/2 x 36 inches

The Art Renewal Center (ARC) is one of the premier institutions in the world that seeks to promote and advance traditional, representational arts — meaning that earning its coveted distinctions is a dream turned into reality.

The Art Renewal Center (ARC) has several distinctions that any accomplished artist would want to hold. However, becoming an ARC Living Master™ is perhaps at the top of the list. To earn that honor, artists must have “dedicated themselves to becoming a realist artist with the wish to express our shared humanity through the visual arts,” ARC’s website says. “In addition, an ARC Living Master™ has mastered all the building blocks of great art as defined in the ARC Artist description, creating fully professional works of art, as well as some identifiable masterpieces. Beyond that, they have successfully created a body of work which demonstrates accomplished facility in their craft that compares to the maters of prior centuries. Their work demonstrates strong, reliable, poetic sensibilities which intertwine great universal subjects, powerful original compositions and mastery over all aspects of the craft, working seamlessly to enhance the chosen subject. They repeatedly are able to ‘suspend disbelief’ in the viewer eliciting empathy which is rooted in our shared humanity.”

Mary Pettis, “The Cycle of Lilies,” 2017, oil on linen, 29 x 48 inches
Mary Pettis, “St. Croix Nocturne,” 2017, oil on linen, 24 x 36 inches

Sounds tough, right? Indeed, earning the ARC Living Master™ badge can take artists a lifetime of work and achievement and many applications. Recently, the ARC announced the induction of their newest Living Master™, and we’d like to take a moment to congratulate Minnesota painter Mary Pettis. In her work, Pettis “draws heavily upon her classical training and Russian influence,” the ARC reports. “Early in her career, Mary studied with Hungarian painter Bela Petheo; Richard Lack, at Atelier Lack; and Daniel Graves, who later became the founder of the Florence Academy of Art. In the 1990s, Jim Wilcox introduced her to the ‘wet-in-wet’ plein air approach and she moved her studio outdoors. Over the years, she continued her studies with various teachers including Zhang Wen Xin, Kevin Macpherson, Jove Wang, and James Shoop.

Mary Pettis, “Pastorale,” 2017, oil on linen, 16 x 20 inches
Mary Pettis, “Living Waters-Io Valley,” 2016, oil on linen, 16 x 20 inches

“Now she divides her time equally between the studio and outdoors. Her decades of training and the experiences from hundreds of plein air paintings are a catalyst for a symbolic visual language of expression that celebrates the beauty, dignity and worth of this world and its inhabitants.”

To learn more, visit the Art Renewal Center.

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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Andrew Webster
Andrew Webster is the Editor of Fine Art Today and works as an editorial and creative marketing assistant for Streamline Publishing. Andrew graduated from The University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.A. in Art History and Ceramics. He then moved on to the University of Oregon, where he completed an M.A. in Art History. Studying under scholar Kathleen Nicholson, he completed a thesis project that investigated the peculiar practice of embedded self-portraiture within Christian imagery during the 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy.

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