Landscape paintings - Mary Pettis
MARY PETTIS (b. 1953), "Quiet Beginnings, Dance of Spring," 2017, oil on linen, 24 x 36 in., private collection

There is a lot of superb contemporary realism being made these days; this article by Allison Malafronte shines light on a gifted individual:

A painting by MARY PETTIS (b. 1953) invites us to linger and become lost in the beauty of what she has captured on canvas. She has made a name for herself in the landscape-painting community through soulful, nuanced portrayals of nature painted both outdoors and in the studio. Although the artist travels widely in search of such scenes — China, Russia, and most of Europe — she is equally satisfied with her Minnesota surroundings.

Pettis’s training began through the influence of Richard Lack’s atelier in Minneapolis and of Daniel Graves (before he founded the Florence Academy of Art in 1991). She also studied with Hungarian painter Bela Petheo (1934–2017) and was strongly influenced by Russian art as well.

Studying with the Wyoming artist Jim Wilcox, who taught her to paint wet-in-wet from life, inspired in Pettis a new passion for plein air work. Her subsequent instructors have included Kevin Macpherson, James Shoop, Zhang Wen Xin, and Jove Wang. Along the way, Pettis learned that technique alone, without contemplation and content, is empty.

A fine example of such contemplativeness is “Quiet Beginnings, Dance of Spring,” a studio piece created from a 16-x-24-inch plein air sketch. “This scene is just steps from my studio door, and it is one of my favorite motifs,” Pettis explains. “On this particular day, the warm spring air was calling the new grass through last year’s ochres so quickly I could barely keep up. I could smell the moist earth, and each time I looked, the sky became more dramatic. My humbled thoughts were ‘How can I share this extraordinary beauty without overstating it?’ All I know is that when I paint a scene close to my heart, from life, something deep inside me resonates, and I am able to recall and expand on that memory more profoundly in the studio.”

Learn more about Mary Pettis at

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