Mary Sipp Green (b. 1947) works in the Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts, in a studio overlooking the ousatonic River. Flooded with northern light, her space is lined with landscape paintings in various formats and stages of completion, and with pencil sketches from her extensive travels in Europe and the United States. An nheritor of America’s luminist and tonalist traditions, Green is devoted to dawns and dusks, early mornings and wilit evenings — to those moments when time seems to stand still, if only briefly.
Green’s paintings are at once specific to their locations and universal in feeling. She is equally adept at ainting
Tuscan farmhouses surrounded by fields of poppies, barns in winter, and ferries crossing the sea toward Martha’s Vineyard. Each picture manages to evoke both a sense of mystery and one of familiarity. Spacious skies, hills, latlands, meadows, oceans, and streams — all reflect Green’s love of wandering, as well as her sense of being deeply rooted in place.
Each new locale becomes a source of excitement for her, each painting a new adventure. A native New Yorker born to an artist father, Green embraced landscape painting only after training at the Fashion Institute of Technology and pursuing a career in apparel design. This was, she recalls, “a serious life change.” Upon moving north to the Berkshires, she was mentored by two well-known artists, Leo Garel and Bessie Boris. Garel was both a tough taskmaster and an encouraging teacher. At one point, he told Green to go away and not return until she had found a gallery to represent her. She landed one, partly because she has never doubted her abilities as an artist.
Green sketches outdoors in pencil, making meticulous notes and carrying home her color observations not only on paper, but also in the mind and eye. Back in the studio, she paints in oils on linen. Although Green approaches each new work with a plan, sometimes that plan goes awry.
“The painting tells you what it needs,” she observes. “And sometimes, it tells you it’s all wrong, and you have to go back and start over. I use many layers of paint, allowing each to dry before the next is applied. Along the way, the surface of the paint is often refigured in unpredictable ways, and there is much that has to be scraped, anded, destroyed, and reapplied before the essence of a place, its mood and atmosphere, finally emerge.”
In September, a monograph titled Every Hour of the Light: The Paintings of Mary Sipp Green will be published by the Artist Book Foundation (New York City). Green is represented by Wally Findlay Galleries International (New York City, Palm Beach, Barcelona), the Granary Gallery (Martha’s Vineyard), and Harrison Gallery (Williamstown, MA).