Get To Know The Artist: Mary Sams
Mary Mason Sams received her BFA from the University of Georgia and currently lives and works in Athens, GA. Over the years she's dabbled in different mediums from jewelry design to photography, but it wasn’t until a particularly challenging time in her life that she decided to pick back up a paint brush and let all of her thoughts and emotions pour out onto the canvas. During that time, she describes herself as free and finally able to express herself clearly and make realizations and connections. Her paintings are raw and vulnerable psychological portraits and self-portraits. "They are my heart.... my mind.... my voice. They are my prayers. I consider my style to be abstract and driven by emotion, color and faith, creating the composition at hand."
Q&A with Mary
When did you make your first painting?
I can’t remember the first painting I made, but I was young. My mother was a psychology major in college, and she figured out early on that art was my happy place and how I communicated most authentically.
What has inspired you to pursue painting?
There’s nothing like the feeling of letting go completely and allowing the paint colors and composition to guide me, then stepping back and seeing with clarity something my subconscious has been dealing with. It’s addicting.
Did you go to art school?
I received my BFA from The Lamar Dodd School of Art at the University of Georgia. Ever since I was little, I knew I wanted to do something with art. At my high school graduation, I won the Art Award for my class. Painting has always been a place of great joy for me.
Which artists (or other people) have influenced your work over the years?
Frida Kahlo has had a huge impact on how I approach art. The people, places, and things closest to me are also a constant source of inspiration.
How would you describe your work? Your style?
Colorful streams of consciousness.
What media do you prefer?
That’s a hard one… I love to switch things up. If I’m feeling methodical and precise, I’ll usually do some jewelry making or one of my works on paper that are a combination of watercolor, ink, gauche and oil pastels. If I’m feeling at peace and fluid, I’ll usually gravitate towards ink and watercolor. If I’m feeling overwhelmed, lost, tense or excited, I usually gravitate towards acrylic with oil sticks and go crazy with music.
Do you paint full time?
I would consider painting my full-time job. I usually spend between 4-6 hours a day painting. The rest of the time I’m working on copy work, social media, website, etc. I also teach Pilates 3 times a week.
Describe your painting studio for us.
My studio is in my home which I love! I’ve converted an old bedroom that has really great light in my main painting area. I also have another room set up for jewelry making with a jeweler’s bench and soldering station.
Describe a “day in the life” of Mary Mason Sams.
I usually wake up around 7am. I then have a moment of devotion and set my intentions for the day. I get ready and take care of my 3 dogs and fish and grab an iced black coffee on my way to teach Pilates. I’m usually back home from teaching by 10- 10:30 and have started painting by 11:30. I paint or work on other art related stuff until 4 or 5 then spend the evenings with my daughter, animals, a glass of wine, good food, and If I’m lucky, my 21 year old son comes over to hang out with us:) I also try to squeeze in a walk at some point during the day with my dogs or a friend.
Do you have a gallery, “real world” places where your work is sold, or upcoming shows?
Aside from here at Hampden, I have work available at Sunshine Village Art Gallery in Watkinsville, Georgia. I also have pieces available at other local stores in Athens as well as locations in Atlanta.
Tell us about special commissions, installations, or murals you have been hired to paint.
They’re all so different. I’d say that the majority of my commissions are in conjunction with a designer who’s looking for a piece that will complement and unify a space that’s most representative of their client’s personal style and/or beliefs.
Describe in a general way what your private collectors are like— why do you think they purchase your art and keep coming back?
I’d say my collectors run the gamut. Some say they’re drawn to the spirituality and vulnerability of my paintings, while others express enjoyment from the abstract’s depth, movement, energy, and colors. I had someone today tell me that they thought my work was eclectic and brilliant, and that felt pretty awesome! I think people purchase my art and keep coming back because it speaks to them on some level.
What inspired you to start selling your work online?
I wanted to reach a larger market, and I enjoy having a curated collection on a platform that’s within my control.
What are your goals as an artist for 2022?
To create authentic art and expand my current viewership and customer base.