Mary Harrison didn’t learnto paint until she moved to Augusta about 25 years ago. But, she has made up for lost time because she has painted over 350 paintings since then.
When the family lived in Peru, she taught English to first graders in an English school and later “enrolled in art classes, and bought supplies for all the mediums when we were in England, then we moved” she added.
In another location, Harrison was able to attend three classes, one in oils, one in watercolor and one in drawing, adding that “when I was in my 30’s I almost fainted when I saw a nude!”
Another move brought the family to North Carolina and she started working with Catholic school children as a reader. The next location was Memphis, Tenn. where she took art classes, followed by a move to Dallas where Harrison worked as a secretary.
Harrison and her husband decided to establish roots for a while in Louisiana because of their daughter’s education and he traveled during the week with his work. When their daughter graduated and enrolled in college, her husband decided to return to the cotton business and they moved to Augusta where he worked for the Graniteville Mill in South Carolina until it was sold and he retired.
It was around this time that Harrison started taking classes with Regina Trueblood at the Senior Center located on 15th Street. “When I started painting, my husband soon became bored and lonely, so he went to work at Sears Contract Sales until his death,” said Harrison.
After the Senior Center closed, another community center was found on Merry Street, with the help of Tom Beck and Trueblood. The group, Ageless Artists of Merry Street, was formed and meets weekly to paint, offer support and attend classes taught by Trueblood. This group was formed around 2006 and “has about 22 members, with 10 members considered old faithful” as Harrison described. Each artist has a dedicated space for painting.
Harrison visits the center about four times a week to paint, mostly in acrylics and occasionally in oils. She has also attended classes taught by Thomas Needham. Her preferred subjects are animals, small children, light houses, landscapes and “funny things” she said. Many of her works have been given to her children and friends.
Since she was a child, Harrison’s other interest has been gardening. She studied to achieve Master Gardener certification under the direction of Sid Mullins, Cooperative Extension Agent for Richmond County with the University of Georgia.
“I got a wide knowledge of flower gardening because each place we lived brought a different environment with corresponding types of flowers. I landscaped our garden every time we moved including gardens for my daughter, friends and neighbors,” said Harrison.
BETH JONES IS THE VICE PRESIDENT OF THE NORTH AUGUSTA ARTISTS GUILD.