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Mary Ellen Castle

Mary Ellen Castle

Nantucket Island is my home and the primary inspiration for my art. My imagery has two themes. One is the island’s natural, undeveloped moors, fields, marshes and beaches and the wildflowers, birds, and other animals that dwell there. The other theme is the centuries-old houses, with their salt-box shapes and patterns of shingles, many-paned windows, picket fences, and brick chimneys and sidewalks, currently adorned with exuberant and colorful roses and hydrangeas.
I was born and raised on Nantucket over fifty years ago, and have lived here most of my life. These wild places and architectural relics, as well as where the two intersect, are as inseparable a part of myself as my dedication to painting them.
I attribute my identity as an artist to my first art teacher, Paul C. Morris Jr., who taught the fundamentals of drawing and color in the weekly art classes I attended in grammar school at Academy Hill. His instruction and the confidence he gave me still echo in my ear when I paint.

Artist Statement

When winter comes, I retreat to the corner of my house that I have claimed as my studio. To start each watercolor or acrylic painting, I look through the hundreds of photos I took in spring, summer and fall, as well as the sketches from my nature journal. I start a preliminary drawing with pencil on paper, with attention to perspective, proportion, value, line and form to finalize a composition. With color theory in mind, I mix my colors of the island’s land, sea, and sky. Laying down washes and making marks with my brushes transports me to not only the season and location of my subject, but deep into Nantucket’s past, to my own past, my story. The painting that results is an invitation to the viewer to connect to a time and place on Nantucket that is part of their own story.