Painting began for me at the age of eight. I nagged my parents to get me painting lessons as I was running out of “paint-by-number” kits. They relented and secured permission for me to join a group of senior citizens in a Saturday morning oil painting class. It was immediate love! As an eight year old with a group of sixty, seventy and eighty year olds, I never felt out of place. We were all learning to paint together. It was wonderful. My first painting was a copy of a piece from a Van Gogh landscape. I still love Van Gogh best.
After taking art classes off and on through out the school years and at the University of Memphis (Memphis State at the time), in young adulthood it became obvious that making a living might be difficult. Since I enjoy eating, I sought a career that would provide a steady income. Several run-ins with the medical field, as a child, led me to have a positive impression of the field so I decided to join them by obtaining a degree in nursing at Excelsior College. I soon found a love for the fast pace of the critical care field, primarily cardiac, and focused on cardiac nursing.
Always looking for adventure, my nursing career morphed into a medical sales career for an international medical equipment supplier. I was very quickly infected with the travel bug. For several years, I felt as though I was living in the airport. But traveling continuously did not allow time for painting or a personal life. The medical sales years closed out as do all adventures. It was time to put my feet back down on the ground.
Putting my feet back on the ground led to a return to art. The return began with classes at Richland College in Dallas, Texas. Two wonderful teachers at Richland helped me apply to several excellent art schools. The final choice was the Corcoran College of Art and Design in Washington, D.C. Washington is an exciting city of museums and politics. I loved the museums, hated the politics!
Eventually, I found my way back to my home state of Tennessee to Nashville, the Music City filled with creativity. My love for art and my knowledge of nursing led to looking at how the two mix. The Art to Heart research project at Vanderbilt University Medical Center became a project combining the two fields. As a fellow in the Evidence-Based Nursing Research Fellowship, my project evolved as a measure of the effects of art created by hospital staff on the post-operative rehabilitation of cardiac surgery patients and will be published in The Journal of MED/SURG Nursing in 2015. The second part of the Art to Heart Project studied how the art in the project impacted the nursing staff on the units and was my Capstone project for a master’s degree at The University of Florida’s College of Fine Arts.
Art in Healthcare is a growing field. The University of Florida’s Arts in Medicine (AIM) program is a leader in the field. While studying for a master’s degree at UF, I learned more about the AIM program and the wonderful ways it is bringing art to patients in the hospital.
The Painting Pundit blog came from my need to focus on art. My natural tendency is to jump around tasting this and tasting that. Art has always been my first true love. I needed to get back to it. While at Richland College in Dallas, I was a member of the Honors Literature Society where I discovered I also enjoyed writing. Writing about art helps me focus on art and issues of artists.
Today, I paint. I teach a workshop on Art in Healthcare at Watkins College of Art, Design and Film in Nashville. And I work a bit in surgical nursing.
I go by two first names, Mary Gwyn or two initials, M.G. I never go by Mary. There are too many Marys in my family. It’s confusing. So everyone is Mary Something.
Thanks for stopping by. I hope you’ll drop me a line in the comments.