Wednesday, March 14, 2012


By Bob Gilbert

The new exhibit at the Gourgaud Gallery, which runs from March 31 – April 29, 2012, features the paintings of the artist, Mary Ellen Brennan. 

It is always interesting to know more about the person behind the paint brush, so we present the following question and answer session with Mary Ellen concerning her work, her background, and her perspectives:

How would you describe your work?

My artwork is varied in subject, size, medium and color. Might say a reflection of the way I live my life.

How did you get interested in Painting?
My parents were great readers. Herald Statesmen, Time & Life, Saturday Evening Post, Daily News, Herald Trib, Readers Digest. Between reading, there was always time for the radio and we all listened together but while they read my sister and I had choices. Since we loved being in the living room where Mom and Dad were we did what kids did back then.....crayons, pencils, and coloring books. I found the Sunday comics were more interesting to copy than to read and so I drew them and everything else I could find.

Have you had any formal training?
I went to Katherine Gibbs in NYC after HS. My parents thought it important to give us a good background so we could always support ourselves. After that it was up to us to pursue anything we wanted. I sought out art. I had taken art & art appreciation in HS and went to classes every chance I could, studying with those that could teach me. Our next door neighbor was a professional artist who had come to the US in the late '30's when war was evident in Europe and designed bread wrappers for companies like TipTop Bread. Knowing I loved to draw, she took me under her wing and taught me about oils, composition - shadows-perspective - mixing of colors. I had my first set of oils and easel at the age of 8. And that's another story for another time.

What materials do you use? Why do you prefer this medium?
Watercolor is it. It is a challenge, does not require a large studio, and is fun, even though frustrating at times. Have used oils, pen and ink and still have oils. Love the smell of turpentine! I never used acrylics or pastels. Really don't have a desire to.

What are your favorite topics to paint?
What inspires me... the ocean, roof tops and eaves, scenes with variety of colors, barns, houses, the great outdoors, trees. Never took up anatomy so though I have done people and pets, I would say I have to work harder when doing them.

Do you have a favorite painting of your own?
Yes many, when I sell one it is like losing a friend. I don't realize how attached I am to it until it is going out the door. It doesn't stop me though from parting with it because I know it is going to a good home as it was selected with care by the purchaser. Sort of like when you have puppies for sale.

Is there a particular artist that has inspired you and how has that person influenced your work?
Monet, Andrew Wyeth, Ed Hopper, Salvador Dali, Remington, Renoir and of course Norman Rockwell.

What advice would you give to someone who is starting out as an artist?
Stick with it. Step away from always being available for people and give yourself into your art....don't look at a clock. Friends want you to come out to play but your heart and mind are playing in your creation.

What other interests besides painting do you have?
My home, husband and family, am a member of the Nine Hole Ladies Golf Club at Rossmoor, love music....opera, symphonies, theater, as well as an avid and enthusiastic observer of sports. Learned bridge at slumber parties back in HS and continue to enjoy all card games. Nothing like cooking to put problems out of your mind... but eating out is the best! Mustn't forget travel, travel, travel.  After reading the daily newspapers I have to work hard to find time to get into a book. Love scrabble and crosswords.

Do you have a goal in reference to your paintings, or is it just a hobby?
Art is not my is me. It is a gift from God and is as much a part of me and my way of life as walking or eating.

As they say, “a picture is worth a thousand words”, so why not attend the Artist’s reception for the “Spring into Spring” exhibit, where you can view Mary Ellen’s work and meet the artist herself.  The reception will be held on March 31, 2012 from 12 PM to 3 PM.  Refreshments will be served and all are invited. 
The opening at the Gourgaud Gallery will offer with the purchase of a painting the option to the buyer to purchase a second one at half the price, as long as the price of the second painting is lower originally than the first. Do come out and see how this works. At a time when everything is going up it might be the way to go!!! More for less!

Artwork is for sale with 20% of each sale going to support the Cranbury Arts Council and its programs. Cash or a check made out to the Cranbury Arts Council is accepted as payment. For additional information see Gallery hours are daily from 9 am to 4 pm and on the first, third and last Sunday of the month from 1 pm to 3 pm. Saturdays are by appointment.  
See Facebook: Gourgaud Gallery :!/pages/Gourgaud-Gallery/108657442495068  for additional pictures.


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