Award-winning artist Mary Kamerer is an oil painter based in Charlotte, NC. Kamerer grew up in Pittsburgh and made Charlotte her home over 30 years ago. Primarily known for her oil paintings, Kamerer is also highly-skilled in a variety of arts, such as ceramics, watercolor, stained glass, and photography. Although talented in many art forms, Mary Kamerer spends most of her time painting landscapes in oil. While Kamerer still views herself as an “emerging oil painter” her work is viewed and admired by many near and far.
Did your family influence your love for art?
My parents were big do-it-yourselfers. They were both children of the Depression, so whether it was woodworking or sewing, my parents definitely modeled for me the notion that it was an important skill to create things for yourself and others. I think my love of oil painting started when I was three and my mother was very pregnant with her sixth child. She painted two large Renaissance paint-by-number pieces. They had no money for fine art, so she was determined to make it for herself, and she worked on them right there on the dining room table every night. I can remember the smell of the oil paints.
Have you worked with or learned from any other Charlotteans?
I started out in Pittsburgh taking college classes in black and white photography and graphic design, but married, moved to Charlotte, finished my degree and started a family. Once my children were grown, I was able to return to the creative work that I had put aside. I worked as a goldsmith apprentice for a year under Richard Dehlin, took ceramics at CPCC, then watercolor classes, and finally started painting under Andy Braitman and Curt Butler. Anne Harkness has been a great mentor to me. All the workshops and classes I’ve taken round out my approach to my work today… even the photography skills garnered long ago help my composition and eye for values today. I hope to always be absorbing skills… and I am still learning from my incredible peers at Dilworth Artisan Station.
How did you successfully turn a love of art into a career?
I really believe that if you love something enough and work continuously at it, you will make it happen. Being creative is integral to me as a person, and I don’t know how else to be if I’m not making something. My intent was not to make a career but to satisfy a personal, never-ending urge to always be creating something. Thankfully, I have a really supportive family who understands this compulsion! After surviving cancer several years ago, I felt as though I needed to make a bigger impact with my life utilizing my gifts in the community. Moving my studio from my home to a more public place seemed like a natural evolution of that.
What is your creative process like when creating a piece?
I find that my most successful and enjoyable paintings are ones that resonate with me, personally. So, I try to find a subject that has meaning to me: a location, a memory, a feeling. I recently painted a large bouquet of white roses, and the way they leaned on each other, allowing light to hit their petals so softly, reminded me of my women friends; supporting each other, holding one another up, and letting each other “shine.”
Where do you typically draw design or artistic inspiration from?
I draw inspiration from everything around me, primarily the natural world. I think being confined to the indoors during the pandemic made me want to paint the freedom that moving water conveys. So, I just completed a “water” series from visits to local waterfalls, streams, and beaches. Sometimes I’m inspired by images that come to me through dreams or ideas. Those ideas that wake me up in the middle of the night and make me paint them to get them out of my head.
Is there anything in particular about Charlotte or the Carolinas that has inspired the art you create?
Having grown up in a city, it always amazes me that you can still drive a short distance and experience rural life in the Carolinas. That rural life inspired a barn series and several other paintings. We are so lucky to live close to mountains and the beach, and this is a landscape painter’s heaven!
What does the future hold for Mary Kamerer? Where can your art be viewed/purchased?
I hope to continue to serve the art community and be able to paint at Dilworth Artisan Station. I’m grateful for my co-workers there and White Point Properties’ recent renovation has made it a beautiful place to work. You can see my work at my studio in #29. I’m also at Magnolia Emporium, Carlton Gallery in Banner Elk, and Sunshine Village Art Gallery near Athens, GA.