Sign Up for Our Newsletter
Stewart, Mary Lou

acrylic painting
teaching artist
  See my work
1932 S. Halsted #507
Contact the artist

Mary Lou Stewart
Professor, Painting, Drawing and Art Certification Program, Elmhurst College

Mary Lou Stewart received a B.F.A. in Fine Arts from the Kansas City Art Institute in Sculpture and a M.F.A. in Fine Arts in Painting from Mills College in Oakland, CA. Prior to coming to Elmhurst College, she had several years of experience teaching art and art education at colleges and universities. She has taught undergraduate art courses for over 20 years. At Elmhurst College Art Department she teaches courses in drawing and painting and oversees the K - 12 art certification program. She has been on the faculty at Elmhurst College since 1997 and chaired the Department of Art from 2001-2012.

Mary Lou has been a practicing artist for over 30 years creating both large (e.g., 7' x 11') and small (e.g., 8" x 10") scale abstract landscape acrylic paintings with collage elements stressing pattern and texture. Her work has been widely exhibited in one person and group exhibitions both in national and international exhibitions. Her work has received several honors and is included in museums and private collections nationally.

New Scroll Series: Improvisational Patterns

The paintings in this portfolio were made during my sabbatical in the spring & summer of 2011. Prior to this sabbatical, my interest in the horizon and landscape dominated my work. When I began my sabbatical, I again began thinking and drawing references to the landscape, but decided to push myself away from landscape into a new direction. I maintained my interest in surface and pattern and the interaction between chaos and structure. I have been continually concerned with the spatial relationships between patterned and textured fields, shapes, lines and color. Some of the surfaces are layers of sanded paint to create actual textures; some surfaces are painted to create visual textures and patterns. These surfaces use gesture, finger painting, dripping, stamping, photography, and collage elements. All of these elements have been carried to the new work, but I started to respond to the surfaces independently while not referencing the horizon, landscape or borders. I was seeing the individual pieces as being more dominant and experimented with hanging them together, similar to Japanese scroll paintings which have influenced my work since the mid-1980's. As a result, these new pieces are made of multiple hand-painted and stamped panels each with a distinct rhythmic pattern. Strongly musical and highly improvisational the shifting paces of these panels are a kind of visual jazz; from chaos into structure, up and down, some calm and some not so calm, creating a sense of rhythm across the paintings.

Trained as a sculptor, I have always viewed painting based on materials and processes; that is, more about applying the paint and materials themselves and less about a final pre-planned image. I work on as many as six pieces at a time moving panels around until they find their place, piecing together previously made pieces and newly created pieces much like a quilt.
Click thumbnails to enlarge.

 Browse Artist by Name
   Browse Artist by Medium