The artistic powerhouse that is Mary Ann Rogers from Hexham
FOR Northumberland artist, designer and producer, Mary Ann Rogers, painting is something in her blood, as common place as eating and sleeping. For some 30 years the landscapes and wildlife surrounding her home and studio in Hexham have inspired her artwork. Today her stationery, prints, scarves and mugs are sold around the world, from New Zealand and Canada to United Arab Emirates and Portugal.
Her scarves are worn by royalty and leading actresses in the UK. Many of her products are made locally in the North of England, only a few things that cannot be sourced in the UK are produced overseas.
Mary Ann is completely self taught, self published, has her own gallery at her house and shows herself at trade fairs, she also has a solo show every year at a gallery in the UK.
It's the only thing she has ever known, apart from working in shops and restaurants as a teenager and a year spent working in an insurance office - she has been a one woman show for many years.
"I don't look at other people's work at all, I'm not interested in what other people are doing, I don't mean to sound arrogant but I am just very focussed on my own work," she told ArtWork, from her stall at the NEC Birmingham Spring Fair.
As well as painting, Mary Ann is also an accomplished equestrienne and does eventing with her two horses, one an Irish draught horse bought from Peter Smith in Ireland and her thoroughbred mare. She also has four miniature daschunds and a flock of Indian runner ducks. They are not uncommon to pop up as models in her varied work.
In 2009 Mary Ann received the award for 'Best Selling Published Artist 2009.' Other recipients of this award have included Jack Vettriano, Beryl Cook and David Shepherd. She was greatly encouraged by this.
"To follow in the footsteps of such greats is one thing, but to be the only self-publishing artist, to have received this award without the full might of a large fine art publishing house behind you is quite an achievement."
She does however have a strong team around her, her husband is a great help, she is quick to add, and she had three full time and two part time staff at her home/gallery/studio in Hexham.
She even has warehouse space there in a former Nissen hut that has to be kept at a controlled temperature.
There is nothing that seems too tricky for her to make, she has produced iPhone covers, insulated cups, messenger bags, hip flasks and thousands of cards, place mats and even men's underpants with her artwork on them.
"I'm always intrigued when someone says to me, 'I bet you can't make that' - and then I find a way," she laughed.
What does she reckon has been the secret to her success? A long pause and then she says, "I had no idea how to do anything when I started," but I have never been afraid to ask people.
"Generally, people will always want to help you." she enthused.
Growing up in Newcastle, her mother was a pianist and piano teacher and her father was a shipping manager. Mary Ann was one of five children and was fascinated early on with drawing and painting. She has previously worked as an art mentor and is very keen to encourage other artists to sell their work. "Be honest about what you're doing and people will respond to that.
"Also social media is an incredibly useful tool and essentially free, at the moment, it may not be for ever, so it's good to take advantage of that while it is."
Mary Ann shows at many galleries in Scotland including the Anthony Woodd Gallery in Dundas Street, Edinburgh, Julian Jardine Gallery in Perth and Braemar Gallery. This year her solo exhibition will be at Mayne Gallery on the South Coast. www.marogers.com