"My father was an artist and had a studio in New York City. My mother designed clothing - very talented," said Mary Sipp-Green, a native New Yorker who now resides in Stockbridge. "I never struggled with what I would do (career-wise). It was all around me."
Sipp-Green attended the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York where she studied apparel design and illustration. Training over, she designed clothing and became the proprietor of a women’s boutique in the West Village. "I really became attracted to life as an artist," said Sipp-Green in an interview.
Nonetheless, the young New Yorker delayed fulfilling her artistic desires.
"I moved to the Berkshires wanting to start a family. I thought the country was a good place to raise a child," Sipp-Green explained. Her wish to be a mother was granted with the birth of a son.
"When my son was school-age, I was able to focus on art, and found mentors," she said. "My most significant teachers Leo Garel and Bessie Boris brought me out of the 20th century and into the 21st. They informed my life in various ways culturally, politically and generally."
Sipp-Green learned her craft in a studio, painting portraits, still lifes, as well as landscapes drawn directly from nature.
"As a young painter, I was influenced by the spiritual quality of the landscape which I felt during early morning and twilight walks," she said. "I describe it best as an unseen presence. I hope that my paintings will convey the sense of place and beauty which I’ve discovered."
Whether the artist is preparing for an exhibition or not, she works every day.
"It’s a way of life for me," she said. "I do not work in plein air, but I start with nature. When I go about my day, I observe my natural surroundings and sketch in a pad."
It is in a separate studio near her home that, brush in hand, she turns a blank canvas into a work of art. Her preferred medium is oil on linen.
"I use many veils of color each drying before the next layer is applied," Sipp-Green explained. "This helps to create a luminosity. When I start a composition, I have a general idea of how I’ll proceed by the painting often takes off in its own direction."
Speaking with Sipp-Green, it becomes clear that art is more than a career to her - it is a passion.
"I love to discover a new idea or more often," she said, "when an idea finds me. I enjoy composing and planning how I’m going to proceed with color and form. Ultimately I am most satisfied when I take a big risk, let the painting go and resolve it in a successful way.
"I recently worked for several weeks on one canvas before realizing the whole bottom needed to be scraped and sanded out," she said. "It was demoralizing but in the end, I was so much happier with the result. It’s essential to follow the needs of a painting."
For more than the obvious reason, Sipp-Green remembers the day her first big painting in the Berkshires was sold, "My father was thrilled." The couple who bought the painting from a dealer had been undecided between two of Sipp-Greens paintings, and then returned to buy the second painting.
Herbert Sipp was still alive to enjoy seeing his daughter Mary’s work in Wendy Beckett’s "The Mystical Now: Art & the Sacred" "(The book) had the work of very well-known artists such as Picasso, Matise and Rothki," said Sipp-Green, who is a recipient of the prestigious Adolf and Clara Obrig Award from the National Academy of Art .
The Butler Institute of Art in Youngstown, Ohio, has acquired two of Sipp-Green’s paintings for their permanent collection. And her work has been acknowledged with a major exhibition in the Springfield Museum of Art. Now she is working on a large painting for the Museum, as well as preparing for a solo show at The Harrison Gallery in Williamstown, Nov. 3 to 29.
"We are so excited for the show of new paintings by Mary Sipp-Green," Jo Ellen Harrison, director of The Harrison Gallery, said." Sipp-Green brings the same sense of serenity to all of her diverse subjects - be it the hills in Texas or a river bank in Paris. Her carefully constructed compositions become poetic discussions of light, mood and atmosphere."
The paintings Sipp-Green will present in the show are from various places she has visited over the years. Traveling in central, eastern and western Europe the spring of 2012, the unassuming artist went to several cities specifically to study her craft.
"In Paris, I did get some work done. You can’t help it, the city is so gorgeous. ‘April in Paris’ you know," she added, with a chuckle.
Some of the paintings of Paris had their beginning in the sketches Sipp-Green made on a bridge over the Seine in early morning or at twilight.
And the artist will include in the show paintings of the place that inspires much of her work.
"It’s beautiful along the Housatonic (River) a little paradise," Sipp-Green said, referring to the area where she lives. "In the Berkshires, the subject matter is endless - different seasons, locations - you have it all."
The public is invited to an opening reception with the artist on Saturday, Nov. 3 from 5 to 7 p.m. at The Harrison Gallery, 39 Spring St., Williamstown.