Mary Ruth Dana


Artist Statement

I graduated with a BFA in 1982 and then spent a year backpacking Europe. When I returned to America I walked away from my art, got an engineering degree, got married, had kids, got divorced, acquired a "real" job and in 2000, taking baby- steps, I returned to art.

I was a drawing major in college – with an emphasis on figurative work. By the time I returned to art I was ready to add color and was intrigued with the purity and translucency of watercolors – as well as being convinced the inherent frustrations of the medium would put the frustrations in the rest of my life into perspective – and I was right. Watercolors can be demanding, unforgiving and brilliant. I enjoy adding intensity, color and a different perspective to figurative work; still life arrangements based on the mundane, and now and again the odd historical building.
Watercolors are all about the pigment.

I could talk about the intrinsic qualities of the individual pigments - how each color comes out of the tube with attributes and qualities that I, as the artist, have to discern and acknowledge and then just learn to accept.

During the painting process I am guiding, maneuvering and even herding the pigments around the paper with the hope that with some skill and insight and just plain luck the pigments will evolve into a meaningful piece of work. I have to mention how the underlying drawing provides the necessary structure that guides the pigment into possible forms and outcomes while still allowing it to expand and diverge and become what it will. Also, the different types of paper provide a variety of textures and environments that provoke and influence the pigments to respond in different ways.

Some pigments play well with others and some are extremely difficult to get along with to the point of being ugly when put together. Certain pigments are predictable and reliable and others are intense and able to cause incredible damage when misunderstood.

Some pigments thrive and shine in any environment and others require certain situations to excel. But no matter what, if the underlying framework and structure is faulty, the painting rarely becomes something to be proud of.

Ironically the entire process sounds very much like child rearing - the only difference being that I will sell my paintings.

Contact information: [919] 836-0830 | |​​