University of Georgia alum and Athens-based artist Mary Mason Sams opened an online shop featuring her original paper works, acrylic paintings and mixed media on gallery wrapped canvases. The pieces include collections inspired by wildlife, joy, faith and tranquility.
Sams has always been drawn to the creative process, starting when she was young and continuing into high school and eventually college at the Lamar Dodd School of Art. For Sams, art serves as a form of expression beyond the conscious mind, investigating deeper into one’s innermost thoughts.
Emotional artistic process
“My mother was a psychology major in college, and she figured out early on that art was my happy place and how I communicated most authentically,” Sams said. “There’s nothing like the feeling of letting go completely and allowing the paint colors and composition to guide me, then stepping back and seeing with clarity something my subconscious has been dealing with.”
Describing her work as colorful streams of consciousness, Sams alternates between materials including jewelry making, watercolor, ink, gauche, acrylic and oil pastels. Among these mediums, Frida Kahlo has stood as a stalwart inspiration for Sams because of her focus on emotions, real events and the people in her life.
Between these varying mediums, Sams expressed that her collectors notice unifying elements of spirituality, vulnerability, movement and energy across all platforms. Spirituality plays an important role in Sams’ personal life — something that has naturally translated to her artwork and creative process.
“[Spirituality] is what I always go back to to ground me,” Sams said. “It comes out a lot in my art in times that were trying. I feel like my main purpose is to share what I do and to help motivate and support people. I feel like people are looking for something to find peace and I want my art to bring peace to people.”
Ann Reynolds, the owner of Watkinsville’s Sunshine Village Art Gallery at which Sams’ art has been featured, called Sams’ art “a blessing.” Their connection began when Sams first visited the gallery three years ago.
“I knew Mary had great talent and her style was something I wanted to show at the gallery,” Reynolds said. “Mary has definitely grown in her art and her expression of how she sees things. Her art is emotional and she just gets it.”
Opening an e-shop
With the desire to expand her customer base, develop a curated collection on a platform within her control and reach a larger market beyond local gallery visitors, Sams developed her first online store, or e-shop.
The e-shop features exclusive online collections, such as her Florals collection which will be released on Black Friday. Typically, Sams begins her painting not knowing where the canvas will take her. For Florals, she focused foremost on the color palette balance of each piece before developing the overall composition.
Beth Hall Thrasher, the co-founder of Thrasher Photo & Design, worked with Sams last September to design her new website and e-shop. After Sams assembled her artwork into categories meaningful to her, Thrasher created a responsive website to display the paintings in topical galleries.
Thrasher emphasized displaying the art vertically and full-bleed to make each piece the central focus of the site against a clean overall design with an e-commerce component.
“We wanted the store to have the same feel as the galleries,” Thrasher said. “Bigger images tell the story better than any text can. We made the decision not to crop the paintings’ product images to square as you’ll see with most online stores to honor the integrity of each painting.”
In the time Thrasher spent working with Sams’ art digitally, she expressed her admiration of Sams’ skill set and dedication to her passions.
“I’m blown away at how prolific Mary is and how she doesn’t constrain herself to any one theme,” Thrasher said. “She paints what moves her in the moment and I’m impressed that she’s dedicated to painting every day.”
In her experience as an artist and creator, Sams’ definition of art has evolved to represent both the subconscious and a way of speaking through physical creation.
“Art to me is the way that I speak,” Sams said. “Growing up I was kind of shy, and I was most honest when I would draw. The truth would come out and for some reason it was less scary. There was this divide where it’s written down, and I don’t necessarily have to be in the room when people see it, but it’s true to me. Art is my truth and my language.”