Mary Sipp Green’s landscape paintings are known for their luminosity. Their subtle color variations create an intimacy of place, and have been broadly praised for their beauty and serenity. Not content to merely capture scenes on canvas, Green spends time in the places she is planning to paint, going out into the landscapes that are her subjects to take notes and make sketches. Looking at her work, one senses that she does not just observe the places she selects as her subjects, but embodies them. Critics have called Green one of the rare artists who truly witness the world rather than just look at it. One reviewer observed, “Her compositions infer worldly objects – trees, barns, hedgerows – but where their boundaries begin and end is open to interpretation.”
Green achieves the diffuse quality of color by applying layers of paint–allowing each to dry before the next is applied. She says, “In this way, the colors come to resonate with one another and produce an overall depth of hue even as each remains visible as its own separate plane. This very deliberate technique is only one part of the creative process however, a sort of skeleton key to the final product in which the operations of chance and accident frequently come to govern the direction of the painting. Along the way, the surface of the paint is often refigured in unpredictable ways, and there is much that has to be scraped, sanded, destroyed and reapplied before the essence of a place, its mood and atmosphere, finally emerge onto the canvas.”
In France last spring, Green studied the Seine for a series of river paintings. “I would go to the river in the early morning; it was filled with mist and fog, The paintings are atmospheric and abstract—there are buildings in the background.”
Green received her training at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City and began her career as a professional artist painting still lifes and portraits as well as landscapes drawn directly from nature. For the past twenty years, she has been living and working in the Berkshire Hills of Massachusetts. Her preferred medium has always been oil on linen, but her methods, techniques, and aesthetic aims have all undergone significant transformations since she first began. Over time, she became increasingly engaged with more abstract and spiritual aspects of the landscape form and began to pursue a less representational, more expressive style. As she says in her artist’s statement, “In order to move away from the constraints of figurative painting, I developed a more indirect process that still informs the way I conceptualize my work. When I first approach the canvas, I will usually have some sense of the color scheme and overall composition; an almost architectural strategy for how I will proceed to build the painting. Each painting begins with preliminary sketches and color notes recorded on site, but the work itself takes shape in my studio, after a meditative interval of temporal and spatial distance that allows memory and emotion to guide the work.”
Green says of her work., “This is indeed a process in every sense of the word,… even when I am not painting, I still experience life as an artist; thinking about the work, observing my natural surroundings, learning from other artists and searching for new expressive possibilities. … At times, I am reminded of a remark John Cage once made regarding musical composition: ‘Everything you do is music and everywhere is the best seat.’ For me, this also says something about the fundamental appeal of a life in painting: to be always and everywhere involved in the mysterious dimensions of the everyday, in the extraordinary way in which the visible world can articulate something meaningful through the medium of paint.”
(The Harrison Gallery in Williamstown, Massachusetts is exhibiting Green’s work during the month of November. Her recent paintings of the Seine, paintings of the bluebonnet fields in Texas, and the Berkshires in different seasons, as well as a painting of adjacent paths through the dunes and a seascape in Martha’s Vineyard, will be on view. She is currently working on a large New England landscape that will be part of the Springfield Museum’s permanent collection. The Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, Ohio, the first museum in America dedicated specifically to American artists has two of Green’s pastel paintings of the Berkshires, ”Twilight Falls” and ”Morning.”
Sipp-Green is also working on three or four large paintings of Martha’s Vineyard for the Wally Findlay Gallery in Palm Beach for their winter season.)

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