Today we’d like to introduce you to Mary Simon.
Mary, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
As a full-time artist, I’m a late bloomer. Always creative in some way since childhood, with a self-taught diligence, and experimental-inquisitive nature, I constantly had “projects” in process. I’ve held many different titles, most importantly to me, a wife and mother. Some others over the years include: Data Entry Clerk, Retail Associate, Day Care Provider, Admin Assistant, Administrator, Buyer, Library Associate (one of my favorites at Watauga Library). You see, we’ve had to move several times throughout my husband’s career and it has made for a very blessed and interesting life.
At 47, I attained my goal of a BFA in Studio Arts, with a Concentration in Watercolor, from the University of North Texas (summa cum laude). This enhanced my diverse skillset and opened my mind to new possibilities for the future. Since my first Group Exhibition, in 2008, I have had an insatiable desire to continue learning and growing as an Artist.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The journey was bumpy with many twists and turns. But that’s perfectly fine, it’s what has brought me to this point in my life and I’m thrilled. On a personal level, my extremely supportive husband and I have raised two amazing daughters. The world is a better place because they are in it, so I am confident that my life has made a difference.
As an Artist, I have faced the biggest, but also the most exciting, challenges in the past few years. We were given the opportunity to live and work in Athens, Greece for three years (2013-2016). What I initially perceived as a setback, actually became a catalyst for my most artistically prolific years to date. The moving company would not ship most of my art supplies. I arrived, in Athens, with only a few brushes and a small sketchbook in my carry-on. To make a long story short, by starting from scratch, I successfully accomplished the following:
*Solo Exhibitions, American Embassy Athens (approximately 20-22 new paintings each Exhibition). 2014, 2015, 2016.
*Helping Hands, a collaborative outreach program with Cerebral Palsy Center of Athens, 2014.
*Artist Residency, Skopelos Foundation for the Arts, Skopelos Island. 2015
*Athens Heritage Art Project (AHAP), Committee Member. 2016.
*Parthenon Pediment, watercolor painting installed in permanent Art Collection at the American Embassy, Athens. 2016.
My advice to other women, of any age, you’re never too old to learn new things – IF you have the desire! Don’t give up and don’t wait! Surround yourself with positive and supportive people. Negativity and gossip are toxic, avoid if possible. Be ORIGINAL! Work from your own photographs and experiences as much as possible. It makes your artwork more authentic and unique to you as the Artist.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Mary Simon, Artist – what should we know?
I enjoy working in a variety of mediums, making each painting fresh and exciting as I change styles and textures. Inspired by my surroundings, I work primarily from my own photographs from the different parts of the world that we have lived and traveled. I believe that when I enjoy what I’m painting, it shows through. Some of my artwork has been viewed as “too happy” and I am still wondering what is wrong with that? I’ve also used my artwork as a form of therapy, to get through tough times. My sweet Mum has recently passed away and I feel that she will be inspiring me in the years ahead.
I am best known for my monochromatic (sepia tone) watercolors. I tend to render architecture, objects or places of historical significance, and nature. Experimenting with natural materials my entire life, I have recently offered smaller works to the public. I’ve also re-opened my Etsy shop for Custom House Portraits. My time is currently balanced between these works, commissions, Guest Artist opportunities, local and regional Juried Exhibitions and Vendor Events.
Since our return to the states, I was honored to be selected for a month-long Visiting Artist Exhibition at the Artists Guild Gallery of Greenville, SC (October 2017) and Guest Artist at PotteryBarn, Ft Worth, (November 2017). I’m excited about an upcoming collaborative Exhibition, with one of our talented daughters, Aimee Simon, in Colorado Springs, CO (June 2018)!
We’re interested to hear your thoughts on female leadership – in particular, what do you feel are the biggest barriers or obstacles?
It helps to know you are not alone in starting your art business. Join a local art group, there are several great ones in our area. Also, join at least one art-related group on Facebook. Begin an Instagram presence and see whether your own website or Facebook page is right for you (or both). Talk to other artists. Be a sponge and absorb all the knowledge you can, then pay it forward. You’re reading this article about me today because of the kindness of a fellow local artist!
- Website: http://www.mesimonart.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/msimonartist/
- Other: https://www.etsy.com/shop/MESimonArt
Mary Simon, Ashley LaPrade, Mike Bakios