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May I Introduce Mary Whyte?

30 Apr 2011

Graffiti by Mary Whyte, watercolor painting.
Graffiti by Mary Whyte, watercolor painting.
Mary Whyte: Weekend With the Masters Instructor

Born in Ohio in 1953, Mary Whyte grew up with all the rural Midwest has to offer. She graduated from Tyler School of Art, in Philadelphia, in 1976 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and teaching certification.

Whyte has since earned national recognition as an artist and, although she works in both watercolor and oil, she is most recognized for her figurative watercolor paintings. A resident of Johns Island, South Carolina, Whyte garners much of her inspiration from the Gullah descendents of coastal Carolina slaves who number among her most prominent subjects. Whyte's portraits grace hundreds of corporate, university, and private collections, and her paintings have been included in numerous exhibitions. Several museums have purchased her portraits for their permanent collections, including the Greenville County Museum of Art, in Greenville, South Carolina, and the Gibbes Museum of Art, in Charleston, South Carolina.

An avid teacher, writer, and art juror, Whyte has conducted painting workshops in different locations across the country for the past 20 years. Several of her articles have been featured inAmerican Artist and Watercolor magazines. Whyte's instructional book, Watercolor for the Serious Beginner (Watson-Guptill Publications, New York, New York), is now in its seventh printing. An Artist's Way of Seeing (Wyrick & Company, Charleston, South Carolina), by Whyte, was published in 2005.

Whyte has illustrated more than a dozen children's books, having several projects published by Chronicle Books and Dial Books. Many of the illustrations are now in collections of private individuals and institutions, including the Mazza Museum: International Art from Picture Books at the University of Findlay, in Ohio.           

In 1991, Whyte and her husband Smith Coleman, moved to an island on the South Carolina coast and developed close friendships within the African-American community. Soon after her arrival and quite by accident, she met Alfreda LaBoard, and her intrepid group of senior citizens who gather weekly to make quilts and socialize in a small rural church. Longtime residents of Johns Island and descendants of slaves, these women would change the artist's life and paintings in astonishing and unexpected ways. Whyte's book,Alfreda's World (Wyrick & Company, Charleston, South Carolina), is about the shared experiences and values that deepened the friendship between the two remarkable women. The story is told in the touching watercolors and drawings that the artist created over a 10-year period.

Mary Whyte is represented by Coleman Fine Art, in Charleston, South Carolina. For more information on the artist, visit her website.

Return to the Weekend With the Masters Meet & Greet.


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