Blog Notes

Plein Air Wildlife Attacks

Doug Johnson and the Hungry Pelican

When painting outside in Florida, you run across wild critters. Snakes make plein air artists scream. Mosquitoes and fire ants go for blood, while no-see-ums dive-bomb the wet canvas.

Not all encounters are bad, though. Last month, I painted at the beach while wild dolphins splashed and jumped just a few feet away in the inlet.

Occasionally, a critter gets curious.

Last week, when a crew of us painted at a local fish camp, there was a wild pelican encounter. The pelican was captivated by Doug – a curious man with a curious box and bright, colorful brushes.

While Doug mixed his colors and began to paint, the giant bird hopped up to get a better view. Doug smiled and said hello. I grabbed my camera.

For a while, the pelican sat mesmerized by Doug’s deft brushwork. The colors must have looked good enough to eat. Literally.

Just as a juicy ultramarine blue hit the canvas, the pelican seized Doug’s paintbrush with its sizable beak. Doug held tight, then went into action and shooed away the bird with his paint rag. It ducked. After a few minutes, the bird jumped down and sulked a few feet away, but it stayed by Doug’s side the whole morning, likely hopeful that Doug would eventually share his tasty paintbrushes with the local wildlife.


— Mary Hubley



Georgia Barn

Georgia Barn 20 x 16 (c) M. Hubely
Georgia Barn 20 x 16

When I drive any distance, I am easily side tracked. The world is just too interesting not to investigate. A couple of months ago, what would have been a long one-day trip to Lagerquist Gallery in Atlanta, took 3 days.

It was decided that a side trip to Savannah would be fun. Instead of using the interstate that would have gotten Hubby and I there a day earlier, we explored the back roads of rural Georgia. This state is a rustic fantasy land for artists. Rusty old shacks, wild grasslands, and rugged farms.

That’s where I found the reference for my new painting, “Georgia Barn.” A hot day, we stopped for gas and a bottle of water. This barn was just across the road, and I stayed long enough to take a few photos and a do quick sketch.

— Mary Hubley

Painting Palmetto Shadows

Palmetto Shadows 14 x 18 (c) Mary Hubley
Palmetto Shadows 14 x 18
Palmetto Shadows Study 5 x 5 (c) Mary Hubley
Palmetto Shadows Study 5 x 5

These spiky shrubs are palmettos – kind of like a palm tree without the trunk. They’re everywhere here on my Florida island, growing wild and taking over great dunes of sand.

I started by creating a quick oil painting study on a small scale – my study is only 5″ x 5″; big enough to get the gist of color and composition.

Then I spent a few weeks painting Palmetto Shadows in a slightly larger size – 14″ x 18″ … Usually it doesn’t take me that long to paint something that size, but these palmettos are just so darned complicated! The more detailed, the more time it takes to paint and get right. This is the result . Palmetto Shadows edges on realism, yet it’s soft and impressionistic, and pulls me into the peace of deep woods laced with shady palmettos in the sand.

See these and more at I’d also love to sell you a painting! Just contact me for pricing.

–Mary Hubley




OPA Eastern Regionals

Howard Friedland giving demo at 2017 OPA Eastern Regional

Just got back from a few days attending the opening of the 2017 Oil Painters of America (OPA) Eastern Regional show. This event included several days of plein air painting around St. Simons Island, Georgia; and watching demos by some of the master artists – Marc Hanson, Howard Friedland, Katie Dobson Cundiff, and OPA president John Michael Carter.

Of course they were inspirational. Masterful. The best at what they do. And that’s why I’m always surprised that they are so down to earth. And they love to laugh. A lot.

It started with a lovely little yellow paint tube I received in my goodie bag at registration. I didn’t recognize the maker. So I looked closer. I was surprised to see it was an acrylic. Made me think. Was this some new technique the oil painting group was exploring? Were they mixing acrylic and oil somehow? Probably not. But I had to ask. The OPA exec, Kathryn, answered with a gut-wrenching guffaw. “Did we give you an acrylic tube? So sorry! I didn’t know we had these!” She replaced it with a proper sample tube of Gamblin Ultramarine.

John Michael Carter demo with model at 2017 Eastern Regional

I giggled throughout the demos. These master artists sure know how to hold an audience. Oh, and they painted well, too. And the last evening a few of us sat outside by the fire, and belly laughed for a couple of hours about nothing important. Awesome.

You know my biggest takeaway from this experience, don’t you? Laugh more often!

— Mary Hubley


Wind Rain Paint

Beyond the Dune 24 x 36 (c) Mary Hubley. Available.
Beyond the Dune 24 x 36

Hurricane Irma happened. We stayed in our island house, hunkered down and rode out the storm, even though we were told to evacuate. We stayed awake through the dark hours, listened to wild wind and rain, and jumped when the heavy thumps of trees came down around us. It was frightening. With the morning light, we surveyed the remnants of our universe. The old trees that had hugged my property for so long snapped in half. My now-treeless sand dunes have become a barren alternate reality. So strange.

I have always accepted hurricanes as part of living in paradise. But they are never easy.

I’m finding it hard to get into my painting studio while I’m shell shocked. I want to sleep more and eat too much, and I think I’ll give into it. I forget sometimes that I’m not a machine – I can’t just whip out new paintings every week forever. I believe that after a major stress, you have to give yourself a break. Read a book. Swim. Take a day or two or twenty to catch up and pamper your soul.


September 1 Art Opening at Tim’s Wines

Touch of Yellow 5 x 5 (c) Mary Hubley. Available.

Mary Hubley Small Works Exhibit at Tim’s Wines

What: Mary Hubley Artist’s Reception: View new paintings and enjoy free wine tasting and light snacks.

When: Reception: September 1 2017, from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Exhibit remains for the month of September. 

Where: Tim’s Wine Market, located on A1A, in St. Augustine’s SeaGrove Town Center.

I’m pleased to invite you to my art opening: my small works exhibit at Tim’s Wine Market. As Tim’s September featured artist of the month, the art opening will be held on September 1, 2017 from 5 to 7:30 p.m. during St. Augustine’s Artwalk event. I’ll be there to introduce my new small paintings collection, while Tim’s Wine Market will pour free wine tastings. The public is invited the opening. The exhibit will remain throughout the month of September.

About Artist Mary Hubley

Mary Hubley is a St. Augustine-based artist who is known for her modern contemporary landscapes. Her style is dramatic with soft edges and a dreamy feel, and moves between semi-abstract to loose impressionist. Much of Mary’s work is completed en plein air – outside, at the edge of local marshes, beaches, and around old St. Augustine’s scenic streets and historic sites. As an award-winning artist, she shows her oil paintings in prominent art galleries throughout the South East.

About Tim’s Wine Market

Tim’s Wine Market is located on A1A, in St. Augustine’s SeaGrove Town Center. Featuring over five hundred selections of quality wine, owners Michael Sally and Kathryn Vaughan offer advice and suggestions in the casual hip atmosphere of this popular local wine shop.

See more about Mary Hubley at


Painting Down the Rabbit Hole

By the Trees 5 x 5 (c) Mary Hubley. Available.
By the Trees 5 x 5

I live through artist eyes in a world of vivid color and abstract shapes. My mind breathes in a transcendent tangle similar to Alice’s Wonderland. My mind perceives people as super-animated, grays as radiant purple, and trees actually dancing.

I dwell in this alternate reality when I paint every day. Regular practice keeps me completely engaged with a living surrealism. Here, blank white canvases are not intimidating, but inviting. Rather than being sucked in by mundane distractions of clothing that goes unwashed and tonight’s dinner potatoes still unbought, I pick up the brush and jump single-mindedly down the rabbit hole.

The Big Jump

When I begin my painting frenzy, the landscape vibrates with invisible brilliance as it plays out across the canvas. While I’m so completely engrossed, it’s a trick to not go overboard. I try to capture raw intensity while keeping it from being distracting. I balance perfection with hodgepodge. As my painting emerges over the next few days, I observe before-unnoticed nuances; this is when I soften overenthusiastic edges, fix unfortunate shapes, and tone down the purples and oranges.

The Wonderland of the Mundane

Victorian Window 5 x 5 (c) Mary Hubley. Available.
Victorian Window 5 x 5

The magic lives on when I come up for air. I notice exotic tree contours as I drive to the supermarket for tonight’s potatoes. Unusual color combinations insinuate themselves as I fold the wash. Few of my non-painting friends understand my strange consciousness. They call it eccentric. It could be madness.

Sometimes, I find myself staring at a bush or a sidewalk. It’s the color. Or the shadow/light.

If you’re an artist, I’ll bet you know what I mean.



— Mary Hubley

Breathing Color

I’ve been excited about creating more impressionistic, even semi-abstract landscapes lately. A foray into sharper lines and brighter color. Diverging from true photographic reality. While I’m still creating plein air paintings that are more realistic, my heart yearns for contemporary minimalist and abstract. So, I’m combining the best of both. I’m now breathing color. Here is one of my new whimsical landscape creations:

The Hill 16 x 20 (c) Mary Hubley. Available.
The Hill 16 x 20

— Mary Hubley

Plein Air Season in Florida

By the end of May, Florida gets hot. Week-long organized plein air events aren’t even offered during the hot months, and the most intrepid plein air artists migrate northward to paint in cooler climates. I’ll still sneak out to paint with my local group occasionally. But mostly during the warm months I  morph into a temporary hermit as I duck inside my summer studio cave.

But oh, while the weather was cooler, I created some awesome paintings out in the marshes and in the oldest city.

Flagler Beach Paintout

Water Reflection painting
Still Water Reflections 12 x 12

I was honored to take first place in the Flagler Beach paint out with my painting, “Still Water Reflections.”

It’s always a surprise and delight to receive recognition, as there are many talented painters out there. I kind of float on a cloud for at least a week after a win. This was painted at the side of an alligator-filled marsh, under clear skies and a sizzling sun. Thank goodness for thermos bottles of ice water.



St. Augustine Paintout

A couple of weeks later, I participated in the St. Augustine plein air paint out. The city was energized by over 50 artists who painted the scenic streets and historic buildings. I managed to finish these three little paintings. The last one, Quiet Pathway, came home with a lovely award from the St. Augustine Art Association.

— Mary Hubley