June 19th, 2023

Mixed media artist Mary Scrimgeour in front of one of her latest pieces

Artist, Art Director, Graphic Designer, Clothing Designer, and Prolific Professional Artist: Mixed media artist Mary Scrimgeour has earned all of these titles. The title that she identifies with the most, however, is that of Storyteller. “I really feel like I am a storyteller,” she says, “A lot of my love for creating comes from the drive for storytelling. It drives everything I do in my work.”

The narrative, storytelling element in Scrimgeour’s work is a practice rooted in her upbringing. Her mother would tell her wondrous stories when she was a child; vivid, world-building tales that stimulated her imagination at a young age. Now, this storytelling is the main driver in her work: “I just see so many stories and so many things. I feel that is my starting point for my work, creating a story that would appeal to everyone, it’s my intrinsic motivation.”

Left to Right: Mary Scrimgeour, “Contemplative Skater,” oil, 20″ x 20″ | Mary Scrimgeour, “Monks Canoeing,” oil, 15″ x 15″

In her current body of work, Scrimgeour uses layers of both acrylic and oil paint to weave narrative into the canvas. In many of her works, including her beloved “Monk” series, Scrimgeour finds that oils give the painting the desired “buttery feeling” and style. In other pieces such as Laundry Day, she builds up layers and layers of mixed media, so thick that it has the appearance of oil paint. Instead, she creates these pieces out of layers of acrylic paint, graphite, chalk, crayons, and some oil pastels. “I will use anything that creates a beautiful mark and creates a beautiful story,” Scrimgeour explains.

Mary Scrimgeour painting in her studio

Scrimgeour takes pride in being a self-taught artist. She identifies with famous folk artist Grandmother Moses when she said, “I render my images what I see and feel in non-academic ways.” Scrimgeour describes her own style as “a sort of a primitive, non-academic style, that’s also whimsical and focused around storytelling.” 

The beautiful, whimsical characters and landscapes in her paintings feel taken right out of a storybook, and in many ways, they are. Mary Scrimgeour forms most of her initial artistic ideas in her sketchbooks and notebooks, jotting down ideas, dreams, and drawings as they come to her. This practice has evolved into a daily ritual that she hopes to one day soon transform into actual books of their own.  

Pages from Mary Scrimgeour’s notebooks

Scrimgeour is currently in the process of teaching herself how to hand-make books. Using any kind of material available to her, she paints and draws and writes and doodles wondrously imaginative pages. She sees these book, not as mere sketches for paintings nor as an entirely separate entity, but rather, something that coexists with her painting practice: “I see this as something I do alongside my fine art practice,” she elaborates, “kind of a companion to my paintings. It’s a balancing act, and it balances me out.” She states that while she cannot paint everyday, she will always be able to carve out time to journal. The practice is an intentional way to keep her mind and hand moving to ensure she is always reflecting, recording, and creating.

Travelogue pages from Mary Scrimgeour’s notebooks

Her books become something of a meditation to her as well, a grounding element in both her life and art practice. This sense of grounding has become all the more important to her now that she lives nomadically. 10 years ago, Mary Scrimgeour sold nearly all of her physical possessions in an act of true minimalism. This unburdening of things weighing her down freed her to embark on a major 18 month adventure that included both a North American road trip and a brief sojourn in Europe.

Mary Scrimgeour traveling and journaling in her notebooks

Scrimgeour and her husband are now able to fit all of their possessions inside their new Ford pickup truck. While they’ve currently set up camp, so to speak, in Boulder, Colorado for the next few months, they have plans to travel to Minnesota, Florida, and Arizona in the near future. Scrimgeour states they may spend a month in France as well; a glowing perk of the minimalist and nomadic lifestyle.

Admirably, Scrimgeour is able to carve out a studio space wherever she and her husband currently reside. Although they fit everything into their truck, they still stay in beautiful, cozy places at each destination — the best of both worlds.

Art supplies in Mary Scrimgeour’s studio

We’re proud to have represented the work of Mary Scrimgeour here Gallery MAR since the very beginning. Ever since Scrimgeour first met Gallery MAR owner Maren Mullin, she felt completely at home and was especially impressed with Maren’s business acumen: “I was very impressed with Maren and with her enthusiasm and sparkle and kindness. I mean who doesn’t love Maren?. I could tell she had a good sense of business, too. It was a wonderful choice that I made, and I really enjoy being a part of her gallery. Everyone at Gallery MAR is always so helpful and cheerful and enthusiastic about the work and that’s so important — not all galleries are like that.”

Mary Scrimgeour in her studio

We would like to extend our gratitude to Mary Scrimgeour for her beautiful work and conversation. Find more of her work, including her new Monk series, on our website or in the gallery today.