feature friday

Burning Love! Own Your Creative Wood-burning Starter Kit by Mary Jennings

I have the great privilege of teaching art to individuals and private groups.  One of my classes is on the art of Pyrography (translation: writing with fire).  I have put together the essentials for a great start to the art of Pyrography, otherwise known as wood-burning.  In a blog on this topic, Slow Down and Make Your Mark; A Beginners Guide to Pyrography, I give some basic instructions as well as show some student work.  

In this post I will show you some of what the beginner kit includes as well as offer you a way to get the kit for yourself.  

You might be asking yourself, how do I get one of these kits for myself?  I’ve assembled these kits and have made them available to people who participate in the Pyrography lesson I have made available to you.  I teach in two locations. One is at the Salamander Resort and Spa, Middleburg, VA and the other is at The Studio Center, Falls Church, VA.

There is also a group set up for classes that I offer at The Studio Center available through Meet-up

Kit includes: wood-burning tool, four tips, two basswood surfaces, colored pencils, transfer paper and instruction/inspiration sheet.

Kit includes: wood-burning tool, four tips, two basswood surfaces, colored pencils, transfer paper and instruction/inspiration sheet.

Feature Friday: Love Locked on the Bridge by Mary Jennings

Love Locked

A year ago I finally got to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan to Brooklyn, New York.  I go to New York City quite a few times and love to walk the city.  I love the long and fully stimulating journeys I am able to make time for during my visits to the big city.  They are one of a kind and have such positive lasting effects. My bridge walk was a on a cold and windy day in January.  I thought this could be an advantage with regard to the number of people on the bridge.  While it was not crowded, it still had quite a few people enjoying their walk over the bridge with me.

There are plenty of helps with directing your placement  and direction during the walk.  It was also under construction or is that a constant.  I met my dear long-time friend and we started on our journey.  She has lived in Brooklyn for several years and kindly agreed to experience this with me.  She was able to point out different points of interest as we made our way across the bridge.  While I was thankful for her guidance, as I would have missed so many important sights, I was looking for the special things that the average viewer would miss, either on purpose or by lack of observation.  With "good" camera in frozen hand, I was careful not to miss a thing.

About one-third of our way across, I noticed pad-locks, combination lock and even luggage locks in very useless places.  I remember looking at one for quite a long time thinking to myself, "I hope this tiny lock isn't holding the whole bridge together."  Upon making our way to the midpoint of the bridge, we knew there was some research to do when we got home.

What was up with all these locks?  Whose initials are those etched on the locks?  Why locks? Why the Brooklyn Bridge?

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As soon as I got back to my computer and thawed my fingers out enough to type, I found out that this was a tradition among lovers.  They show up at the bridge, place the open lock on a spot on the bridge, lock it and through away the key.  With great ceremony, they key gets tossed over the side of the bridge into the deep waters of the East River.  There love is forever locked.  I'm sure there is a super romantic kiss involved in the ceremony.  So sweet.

I also read that this is not exclusive to the Brooklyn Bridge, but can also be seen on the oldest bridge in Paris and I think one in Italy.

I was locked into the idea of creating a series of paintings that captured the essence of what this bridge has meant to so many couples.

This is a green response.  No fish or fishermen have been hurt be flying keys from above.  It's also longer lasting.  When I was on the bridge, the locks were sparse in comparison to what I saw in the article I read.  I found out that the crew responsible for bridge renovation, cut all the locks off and disposed of them in some fashion.


I hope you have connected to my story.  When I am feeling all lovey dovey, I will make more of these pieces.   At present, they are still in progress.  I'm excited about their creation and envision them in the hands and homes of many happy couples as a reminder of the crazy, sticky sweet we do when we are in love.  sigh.  You can look at detailed photos of the series individually in my Etsy Shop: maryjenningsart

When my husband supports my art and my artistic passion, I lock up those moments and throw away the key.

Feature Friday: Why KNOT? Golden Gate Bridge by Mary Jennings

Peep Knot

As I sit here at my desk this morning, I’m amused at the variety of tasks on my to-do list today.  I've got a study I’m keeping up with, a costume and props I need to create, a custom 30 minute (comedy) tribute I need to create and practice, a blog post I need to write featuring my art, a doctor’s visit for my son to be scheduled, and ('yada, yada, yada' - Seinfield reference - ‘yada’ing over the best part. LOL! --->) go to the gym today. Do I lack focus?  Or, do I have a richly creative life?  I would like to believe I have a richly creative life.  I really can’t help myself.  I am happy with this kind of variety.  As long as stuff is getting done, is there really a problem with this range of skills and challenges being accessed?  I’m just not sure of the answer to that question even as I type this wearing a Marilyn Monroe wig and jewels.  Why not?  If I must explain, I have to test how this costume for my tribute is going to kill my focus with it's itchiness.  See?  I am focused and working hard.

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A painter is usually criticized for their range of styles and techniques as being a 'jack of all and master on none'.  I am here to argue that I am able to master many techniques and styles of painting.  I have training in textile design and most of my art career has been in painting custom murals.  With this work, I have successfully developed a 'universal' style of painting.  I don't allow the critics to keep me from painting or any other form of art I would like to explore.  I aim for the best fit and an everlasting effect.  I pour a lot of heart and soul into every work I create.

The three works I will present to you this fEATURE fRIDAY, I am demonstrating three different techniques I am able to access from my skill toolbox.  When I took my first walk across the dramatic Golden Gate Bridge, my attention was captured by the little details nobody was really supposed to notice.  Scattered all throughout my walk across were bolts, knots, locks, lights, signs, writing, and delicious paint drippings.  The bridge was active with walkers and workers.  This was quite clearly a well loved bridge.  I was completely consumed with interest.  I burned through a whole memory card of photos and hadn’t even made it to the half way point.

I have several works that I have since created from this inspired journey, but these display my desire to capture the vibrant energy of the Golden Gate.  With their focus bing on the many knots and the trademark brick red color of the bridge, I elected to create one work in collage, one in colored pencil and one in acrylic.  They are all on maximum density fiberboard and framed with painted wood shadow box.  Knots that were never meant to be seen have quite a significance now that I’ve captured them.  I love looking at them independently and together.  Even though they have been created in three different mediums, they have focus and integrity.

If you are interested in learning more about these works, please visit my shop on Etsy.  They are available for purchase there as well.

I have also created (sans the Marilyn wig) a video of my memorable journey to and across the Golden Gate Bridge.  I love the complete story it creates about the inspiration for the artwork’s focus.  Why KNOT?

Leave comment if you have ever walked over a particularly cool bridge.  I would love to hear what you found interesting.


Feature Friday: One Painting, Many Stories "Ascend" by Mary Jennings


"Upward"Oil on Canvas12"x12"x2" In most cases, a painting has many sources of inspiration behind it’s creation.  It’s always important for an artist to share those stories with the viewer in order to deepen their experience of the art.

This particular piece of work, “Ascend” has a story for it’s creation and even more of a story after it’s creation.

I happen to love looking up (and down) spiral staircases.  I love the design and the craftsmanship as well as the destination in sight.  They afford you with your end in sight as you are going up.  Kinda nice to know when you are out of breath.  I am always out of breath.

Visiting the Arc de Triumph, Paris, France.

Looking up in the Arc de Triumph

This particular painting of a spiral was inspired by the view up the stairs leading to the top of the Arc de Triumph in Paris, France.  With every echoing step upwards, I was thinking about the history behind this small journey I was currently enjoying.

The day I finished the work, it was sitting wet in my studio when a visitor came by and was overtaken with the desire to touch it.  She was devastated that she had smudged some purple on the side of the freshly painted work.  I told her not to worry, the smudge gave it even more character.

“Ascend” has also been published with an article by Rev. Dean Miller of The Falls Church Anglican in Northern Virginia.  Here is the perfectly pared article in The Current, Nov-Dec. 2012 issue p.22. Note the name change of the art in this ARTicle to protect the innocent (I guess).

For a small 12”x12”x2”, oil on canvas painting, this work (for sale on Etsy.com) sure has quite a story to tell.....and climb.

I would love your feedback on my art in the comments below.  You are welcome to share this post or my etsy shop with a friend.  I would love to have my art and their stories passed around and even owned.