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Art & Life with Mary Wilhelm

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mary Wilhelm.

Mary, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
Honestly, I didn’t come into this world with this deep calling to be a painter. My first job aspiration at the wise age of 5 was to be a taxi driver, and then a paleontologist! Growing up in Florida, when I wasn’t riding my alligator through an orange grove to get a Pub sub from Publix (kidding!), I spent a lot of time outside in the mosquito-infested swamps drawing the nature and wildlife! It was during those long hours that, I really discovered how much I enjoyed painting animals.

I was also lucky to have a VERY supportive high school art teacher, Mrs. Iacobucci, as well as really supportive parents (though bless them, they DID TRY to get me to become an architect). I lived close enough to St. Petersburg, Florida to be able to visit the Salvador Dali museum regularly, and was inspired by his work at a very early age. He’s still a huge influence for me and has been the focus of a large quantity of my research. All in all, I think being a painter was something I just naturally just grew into, and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
I’m an oil painter primarily, but I work in a very specific technique called the Mischtechnik that is a combination of oil painting, and egg tempera emulsion. The word “Mischtechnik” is German for “mixed technique,” and is jokingly referred to as the technique that is “never done.” I’m a HUGE technique geek when it comes to oil painting, and this technique works in a way that will hopefully guarantee that my work lasts for a very long time. If anyone ever sees me in the art store, I can guarantee that there is an 85.76% chance I am sitting in the painting section checking the backs of paint tubes to see what pigment(s) they contain.

I like to try to approach each work as a piece of visual poetry and create paintings that leave an opening for contemplation from my audience. A lot of the imagery that I work with is heavily influenced by my early exposure to the Surrealist movement, my intense love for the outdoors, an obsession with animals, and too much Courage the Cowardly Dog. I interweave this visual vocabulary with a deep interest in the darker aspects of spirituality and human nature, psychology, and our relationship with the natural world we live in.

Throughout my work are also subtle details, and non-linear chronologies that take place in a world that resembles our own, but in many ways acts a darker, more exaggerated reflection.

Artists rarely, if ever pursue art for the money. Nonetheless, we all have bills and responsibilities, and many aspiring artists are discouraged from pursuing art due to financial reasons. Any advice or thoughts you’d like to share with prospective artists?
Oh, good question. It’s probably been said before, but networking is VERY important. I’ve found that a lot of my own work gets sold from personal relationships that I make with my clients. Social media is an important aspect of this, and despite my own hesitation to become too fixated on the internet, it can be an important tool to help get other people to see your work.

It’s also important to diversify income. I always try to take jobs that allow me to continue to be involved in the art world even if it’s not directly related to painting, per se. I have had to work in gallery jobs, and as an art teacher while trying to sell my own work and I’ve found that having a steady paycheck allowed me to continue to keep doing what I love… which is PAINTING.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
Instagram @ourladyofhighlighters

I have a facebook page as well at https://www.facebook.com/ourladyofhighlighters/. I’m currently working on re-vamping my website, but you can also check out my work at https://www.marycwilhelm.com/. Honestly, Instagram is the best place if you want to contact me or follow my work.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Personal Photo: Allyson Jackovics
Artwork Images: Mary Wilhelm

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