Artist's Eye View
● By Sandie Tillery
story: Sandie Tillery photo: James Mazzotta
TRAVELING ARTIST MARY ANNE BEAULAC
How great would it be to share a passion and teach others while sailing to ports around the world? Mary Anne Beaulac has found a way. A North State resident and art instructor for more than 35 years, she has “retired” and found a part-time outlet that allows her to teach watercolor painting while enjoying the luxury of travel. Major cruise lines take her and husband Ed on trips to Mexico, Hawaii, the Panama Canal and the Caribbean. She and Ed soon ship out to the Greek Islands, and they dream of one day cruising on the Baltic Sea. Beaulac teaches one-hour watercolor classes while at sea, but during stopovers in ports of call, the couple takes in the sights along with the rest of their shipmates.
Beaulac’s backyard at home in Redding represents a sense of artful whimsy and thoughtful planting of drought-resistant plants, many of which she has propagated. Colorful ceramic totems stand watch over a waterfall spilling into the pond she and Ed built by hand. “The Big, Fat, Red Lady,” a life-sized stucco and ceramic sculpture, serenely welcomes visitors with her halo glinting in the sunlight. Found objects, castoffs from the trash or yard sales, often find new usefulness within her sculptures. Bowling balls encased in concrete with mosaic embellishment illustrate her recycling artistry.
She loves the Southwest with its dry, stark nature. Her totems and low-maintenance landscape design mimic to some degree the desert places she has visited and studied, and reflect her passion for Native American art. She grew up with a father who researched and eventually wrote books about the southern Indiana Buffalo Trace (the migratory trail for buffalo and early land route for pioneers) near their home. His passions fueled his daughter’s eventual artistic interest in native cultures. Her Southwestern series includes award-winning pieces, some sold to collectors, others now gracing the walls of her home.
Artistry spills off her canvasses and onto the walls of her home as well. Beaulac’s collages incorporate handmade papers, gold and silver leaf and experimental, non-traditional approaches. She has used some of the same techniques with faux finishes on her walls. She created her own textured leather-look wallpaper in a deep, rich wine color, wrapping it around the lower third of her dining room walls and finishing it with molding to create an elegant wainscot.
Early on, Beaulac put to good use her training and university degrees in a career as illustrator with Twentieth Century Fox where she incorporated architectural elements into three-dimensional design assignments. Later, she worked for a time as a graphic designer and a book illustrator, and throughout her adult life she has taught elementary, secondary and college art courses.
She describes her artwork this way: “I work in numerous media, but specialize in watercolor. I paint layer upon layer of transparent washes to achieve rich and complex patterns of shapes and vibrant colors that flicker across my paintings.” She works toward “tight rendering” but does not want to let her paintings become photographic. Figures often dominate in her paintings. She likes to paint related images that intertwine to tell a story. One of her series depicts periods in art history in which she utilized her illustrating background with its unique architectural influence.
By far the most profound body of work and a legacy she will leave behind is a collection of illustrated journals, an artist’s-eye view of the world as she sees it during her frequent journeys around the globe. Her favorite journal contains images of Florentine street life, her rendition of famous sculptures, the Mediterranean Sea at sunset, sketched, painted and described in words… a treasure trove of memories, a collection of art and observations from the artist herself.
Still a member of North Valley Art League and Shasta County Arts Council, Beaulac admits that she now paints and sculpts mostly for herself and for her family. She has in the past exhibited at galleries throughout California and Oregon and has won awards in local, state and national shows. She is clear, however, that her life is all about art. Creative expression comes naturally and gives her great fulfillment. And now with the joys of traveling with Ed, visits to daughters Rachelle, Sarah and Leah who are spread across the United States, and enjoying the quiet of her home, Beaulac is content to paint, sculpt and teach whenever she feels like it, quite often now at sea.