MarySullivan-coverExplorations in Water Media with Mary Kelly & Mary Sullivan

Two artists, both with the same first name – and frequently mistaken for one another probably due to their Irish-looking faces and Irish-sounding last names – decided to take the bull by the horns in presenting a joint exhibit of their water media art works. The exhibit, “Mary & Mary! Splash! Explorations in Water Media” will run through August 22 at the Hilton Head Public Library on Beach City Road off Hwy. 278.

On Saturday, July 26, 1 – 3 pm, the artists will demonstrate and discuss some of their techniques. They look forward to this opportunity to hear viewers’ comments and questions. Light refreshments will be available.

Both artists use water-based media, but they work in diverse ways. Mary Kelly paints directly in acrylic with great exuberance. Bright colors whirl around one another, interacting and creating magical space as she uses imagination to depict forms in nature — butterflies, waves, flowers. She will introduce her Wave and Spiral series in this show.


Techniques such as watercolor on stretched canvas, collage, insertions of textural media and poured paint are features of her work. Her abstract acrylics and more realistic paintings document her experiences in water media over the last two years.

Mary Sullivan’s paintings using permanent lightfast inks tend to have a quiet, meditative quality. Rather than painting solely with a brush, she pours the transparent colored inks, allowing them to mix and form new, harmonious colors. She intentionally applies resists, which interact with the pools of ink in often surprising ways.

Her paintings are contemporary abstracts, yet she finds an affinity with centuries old Asian ink painting traditions. Considering herself an expressionist, Mary Sullivan states that she generally does not begin a painting with a subject in mind. She works in “the spirit of nature,” using a lot of water, allowing organic forms to emerge, influenced by color calling to color, seeing with the heart and emotions. She will also show works done with techniques she  evolved of using the papers or paint chips which remained from her ink and acrylic paintings to create imaginative collaged and frieze-like images, relying on what she calls “the power of white” to make the shapes and colors even more emphatic.

MarySullivan2Both artists have lived and created on Hilton Head for many years. Originally from Cincinnati and then upstate New York, Mary Kelly has been an instructor at the Art Academy of the Hilton Head Art League. Prior to moving to Hilton Head, she was a college professor of art, exhibiting, lecturing, and publishing world-wide over the course of her career and receiving numerous grants and fellowships, including Fulbright Exchange and Research grants. She is a member of the Art League of Hilton Head, the Society of Bluffton Artists, and paints with a group of plein air artists, the Apple Pie Painters, who paint scenes on Hilton Head and then exhibit together.

 Mary Sullivan comes from Chicago, where she first began studying art part-time at the American Academy of Art and at the School of the Art Institute, while working full-time as a therapist. After moving to Hilton Head, she began showing at the Art League of Hilton Head, the Society of Bluffton Artists, with the Art Beyond Tradition Abstract Group. She has shown in several group and solo exhibits and received grants from the Expansion Arts Fund of the Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina and from the Beaufort Arts Council.

All paintings on exhibit are available by directly contacting the artist. Library hours of operation: M-Th 10-8, F 1-5, Sa 10-4.