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Mary Ellen Castle

Mary Ellen Castle

Nantucket Island is my home and the primary inspiration for my art. I walk the moors, fields, marshes and beaches, observing wildflowers, birds, and other animals on this land, originally the home of the Wampanoag People. Wandering Nantucket town and Sconset village, I notice the Quaker grey houses with their salt-box shapes and patterns of many-paned windows against shingles,connected by picket fences, brick sidewalks, and narrow cobblestone streets. This whaling-era street scape is the backdrop for the summer’s profusion of flowers; climbing roses, mounds of blue hydrangeas, perennial gardens and overflowing window boxes. This layering of Nantucket’s past and present is the subject of many of my paintings .

I was born on Nantucket over sixty years ago, and have lived here most of my life. These wild land and seascapes, flowering plants and architectural relics, as well as anywhere the two intersect, are as inseparable a part of myself as my dedication to painting them.
I attribute both my origin and 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. After graduating Nantucket High School, I earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a concentration in painting from St. Michael’s College, Winooski, Vermont.

Artist Statement

To start each watercolor, oil, or acrylic painting, I retreat to the corner of my house that I have claimed as my studio. I look through the hundreds of photos I have taken, as well as my sketches. 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 brushstrokes 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.

Artist Portfolio