Mary Silverwood (1932-2011)
After decades of painting the golden hills, redwoods, fir and pine of Sonoma County, California, I was ready to find some new motifs. A visit to New Mexico in the late 1980s offered everything I was looking for, and I returned every year, finally moving here with the new millennium. I find the high-desert landscape endlessly fascinating. The great configurations of mountains, arroyos, mesas, ravines and compacted vegetation against the azure sky are powerful, and I have drawn strength from them.
Composition and color are the most important aspects of my paintings. I have hundreds of pastel sticks in my studio, and just the colors alone are enough to get me started on a painting. I draw upon the shades and tones of nature, but I like to exaggerate them, dramatizing the emotional exuberance that the landscape conveys to me. Pastels are especially responsive, they allow me to work quickly on black paper, moving from darks to lights as I go.
Although representational, my paintings are grounded in the abstract elements of art. Values, textures, scale, line, positive and negative shapes, unity and variety are critical to the success of my paintings. I particularly enjoy using shadows and highlights to create interesting patterns on both the two-dimensional surface of the painting, as well as in the illusion of spatial recession.
I don't consider myself a sentimental person, and yet to convey the landscape to others, I must inject into the colors and designs my feelings and my response to what I see. That takes the image beyond decoration or a mere "reproduction" of an object or landscape and turns it into an idea that flows from the brain and the heart. ---Mary Silverwood