The Secret Garden

Secret Garden, Mary Baker © 2017
Secret Garden, Mary Baker © 2017

The digital series “Big Skies” is finished, all 20, done in 2017.  I’m experimenting with new digital images. This one is called the Secret Garden, and the actual garden can be found at Maudslay State Park, Newburyport, Ma.

First Printed Digital Image with Colored Pencil – Prismacolor

I’ve been working on the printed version of the “Pig and Apple Tree” with Prismacolor, a beautiful waxed based colored pencil, since, yup, last October. I’m still working on the image, but I think that it is almost done.

Pig and Apple Tree, Printed digital image with colored pencil, © Mary Baker
Pig and Apple Tree, Printed digital image with colored pencil, © Mary Baker

The process is that I first work on the image on my computer and “paint” it in Photoshop.  The image is then printed on a beautiful acid free watercolor paper.  And after that, I take it back to my studio and work on the printed image with Prismacolor, the beautiful wax based colored pencil that I’ve used for decades as a “traditional artist.”

Pig and Apple Tree, the original image
The original image of “Pig and Apple Tree” that I started out with.

And this is the original image that I started out with.  I hope that the image helps to explain a little bit, how much work goes into each piece in this new digital art project.

For me, it’s a lot like the painting process that I have done for decades, where I start out with a photograph that I’ve taken, which gives me a starting point for the final realistic oil painting.  And for me it’s same subject matter in a different medium, and the process is both very different on one hand, but also very similar.

Body of Work, Digital Art Images–Printing

In 1995 I did an oil painting on paper called “Erin’s Airport.” It is one of my favorite paintings. The painting is  small, and what I call a “between the window” size painting, it is 9″ x 12″ unframed. When I finally decided, late in 2014, to create a body of work that I would print, I ended up deciding to use “Erin’s Airport” as my starting point.

Erin's Airport, painting © Mary Baker
Erin’s Airport, painting, Mary Baker © 1995

The printing of the images almost the terminated the digital art project.

I found someplace in Newburyport that would do a giclee, pigment print for not too much money, so that I could see what I had.  I had them print two images, fairly large, 18″ x 20.” The first printing was a disaster, the images were dark, muddy and a horrible yellow.  They had another giclee printer, so we tried that.  The digital images were just as bad–this time they were dark, muddy and had a horrible red hue.

I thought after 2 years of work that the digital project had come to a screeching halt, and I was beside myself.

What I found out to my dismay was that the printed image did not resemble what was on my computer in any way. And also, to my distress, I found that every printer was a little different, or very, very different.  This was not like painting, where what you created was what you got. It was a very big “Yikes!”

I called and talked to all sorts of photographers in Newburyport and elsewhere, because I figured they must have the same problem. And I got referred to Barry Kaplan at The Finer Image down in Danvers.  And Barry saved the digital project.

Pig and Apple Tree, digital image © Mary Baker
Pig and Apple Tree, digital image, © Mary Baker (DRAFT)

Barry spent a long time with me, and we printed off images and they were dark and muddy, and I was not happy.  And on a fluke, Barry printed one of the images much lighter, and I had another “eureka” moment.

The images are printed on beautiful, acid free, thick watercolor paper, and when they were printed lighter, I realized I could draw on them with Prismacolor (which is a waxed based colored pencil that I have used as a professional artist for decades), make the color exactly the way I wanted it, which is much brighter than the printed version.  And they would look very similar to the way the images looked on my computer.

The Prismacolor also gives the images depth, which they did not have just with just pigment prints (this is coming from a painter’s perspective) . The process feels more like creating a painting or a drawing than just a printed image.

And using the Prismacolor pencils on the skies also helps soften the banding, an issue that I had been working on, that was much improved, but that hadn’t yet been totally perfected.

Boston Road, digital image © Mary Baker
Boston Road, digital image, © Mary Baker (DRAFT)

I also changed the proportions and the size to be the same size and proposition as “Erin’s Airport” painted in 1995, 9″x 12″.  So, on this page there are two of the images.  THEY ARE NOT FINISHED, this is a work/project still very much in progress. These two images are just to give an idea of what the new images in this digital project look like.   I haven’t decided on the price, or how big a run (at this point I can’t imagine doing more than one, because they take such a long time). All of this is still to be determined.

And at the bottom of the post, is a photograph of 7 of the images that have been printed, that are lined up along my studio floor, so that I can get a sense of how they work together, and what images to create next. This is the process that I would use if I was creating a new body of work that were paintings.

And as of July 2015, that is the state that this new digital art project, that was started in December 2012. And I think I know where I’m going next, I hope that I can create 13 more images, and to try and have a cohesive body of 20 digital-prismscolor works of art.  But, after two and a half years, who knows–however, I am expectant.

Digital images along my studio floor © Mary Baker
Digital images along my studio floor © Mary Baker

Digital Art Images, New Work and First Technical Problem, a Possible Roadblock

By 2014 I had experimented with the new digital art images a lot. I was well into my second year on this project, the process was taking a lot longer than I had ever anticipated.  It was time to think about creating a cohesive body of work.

I wasn’t sure how I wanted to proceed, so I just started. I always love the big skies over the Newburyport marsh, so I thought I would start exploring images with big skies.

Joppa 2 © Mary Baker, digital image
Joppa 2 © Mary Baker, digital image

“Joppa” is what is referred to an area in Newburyport’s historic district, that is in Newburyport’s South End on Water Street along the Merrimac River. It is where the clam shacks were once located, and it is where small boats and kayaks are launched; you can see Plum Island and Salisbury across the water, and at low tide, people have for centuries, gone out and dug clams.

“Joppa 2” is one of several digital images that I have done of that particular area, and I was intrigued by the color of the sky in this particular image, it wasn’t a color that I had ever thought of creating. It was another progression it this digital art project that was now well into its second year, and again another “eureka” moment.

Stack Yard Road 3 © Mary Baker, digital image
Stack Yard Road 3 © Mary Baker, digital image

“Stack Yard Road 3” soon followed. Stack Yard Road is in Newbury, it is a dirt road that goes through the Newbury Marsh and ends at the entrance to Nelson Island which is now part of the Plum Island Refuge. I had painted this particular place many times, and had gone back to it when trying to figure out the new digital artwork.

Tree and Pasture 2 © Mary Baker, digital image
Tree and Pasture 2 © Mary Baker, digital image

This is a second digital version of the tree and pasture,  This particular tree of “Tree and Pasture 2” is along Scotland Road in Newbury, MA, and is surrounded by a large, rural piece of land called the “Common Pasture.”  I have done many, paintings of this particular tree and that beautiful area (as have a lot of other painters and photographers).

But as I created these new images I started to notice something. When I paint a sky with oil paint, I  smug the layers of paint together so that the sky would gradually go from dark to light, from the top of the sky to the horizon line.  What was happening in these new images is that I was getting what is called “banding.”

Banding in sky © Mary Baker
Banding in the sky

Banding is when a transition is not smooth and you can see horizontal lines between the colors.  It was particularly noticeable to me when the skies became darker at the top, which was something new in these particular images (it didn’t happen as much in the early seascapes skies that were lighter in color).  And there are many techniques to work with this problem, but as a painter, none of them met my expectations. I thought I might have hit a major road block, and I was stumped.

For the first time I wondered if this new digital project had any hope of going forward.

New Digital Art Images–Creative Euphoria

I hadn’t had this much fun creating in a long, long time as I was having with this new digital project.  I had no idea where process of this new adventure was going to go, but I was definitely on it for the ride.

For me, often the excitement comes at the beginning of a new creative discovery, it was that way during various stages of my professional painting career, and it was certainly that way with the new digital art images.

I would sit down at my computer every morning and couldn’t wait to see what I could create that day.  In many ways it felt as if it was a creative rebirth.

Pink House 1 © Mary Baker, digital image
Pink House 1 © Mary Baker, digital image

This is the first of many digital versions that I have done of the “Pink House.”  The Pink House on Plum Island Turnpike is iconic, and is probably one of the most, if not the most painted and photographed location in the Newburyport area.  It has captured the imagination of hundreds of professional and amateur painters and photographers for years.

The Pink House sits out by itself on the Newbury marsh.  There are no other houses surrounding it.  It is run-down and unkempt, abandoned, but in spite of its neglect it retains a dignity and honor and an unspoken link to Newburyport’s past. People notice it and fall in love with it instantly.

Apple Tree and Field © Mary Baker, digital image
Apple Tree and Field © Mary Baker, digital image

The  apple trees  of “Apple Tree and Field” are on the Spencer-Pierce-Little Farm, which is a magical place, a 230 acre site that includes a late 1600 manor house that once inhabited wealthy Newburyport merchants. It is open to the public, and more information can be seen about it here.

Airstrip 1 © Mary Baker, digital image
Airstrip 1 © Mary Baker, digital image

I have done many paintings of the airstrip which is on the marsh along Plum Island Turnpike. Those paintings were in all kinds of art shows and are in art collections all over the United States.  I’ve gone back to that particular place over and over again for almost 30 years. “Airstrip 1” is the first digital art image that I did of that particularly, for me, beloved spot.

More Painterly Digital Art Images, Textures and Experimenting

After I found Jerry Jones, aka “skeletalmess,” aka “ghostbones,” of Shadow House Creations, a whole new digital image world opened up. I was able to figure out how to make the images more painterly and give them atmosphere and create a mood.  I was elated. And what continues to astound me about this digital process is that I can change an image in minutes, changes that as a painter would take me months, even years.

Garden at Maudslay, digital image © Mary Baker
Garden at Maudslay, digital image © Mary Baker

The digital image of the “Garden at Maudslay” was one of my first attempts. Another “Ah Ha” moment on this digital enterprise. It was difficult for me to comprehend what could be accomplished, and so quickly with this new medium.  The “Garden at Maudslay” has a ghostly quality that I wanted, that reflected that semi-abandoned area of Maudslay State Park. I’m not sure that I ever could have imagined painting this particular place this way.

Red Doors and Pansies © Mary Baker, digital image
Red Doors and Pansies © Mary Baker, digital image

I couldn’t believe what I could accomplish with “Red Doors and Pansies.”  The image finally had the painterly quality I was looking for, and captured for me, what Newburyport, the seacoast town where I live, looks like in the spring.  And it also made an attempt to reflect the charm of Newburyport’s historic district.  I never would have taken the time to paint this on canvas.  It would never have happened.

Stackyard Road 2 © Mary Baker, digital image
Stackyard Road 2 © Mary Baker, digital image

I painted a lot of versions of Stackyard Road in Newbury, MA as a painter.  Many are in collections all over the country.  So, I thought I would try and do some digital images. This is one of the first ones that I came up with.  And again, I was so excited, it was different than the paintings, but also interesting, and it had a painterly quality and a sense of texture in the sky that I would never have created as a painting. Another “eureka” moment.”

Boat, Newburyport Dock © Mary Baker, digital image
Boat, Newburyport Dock © Mary Baker, digital image

As a painter I painted boats like this that were “dry docked,” but never one in the water. And with the new digital art medium, I could experiment, and if I didn’t like it, it didn’t matter because creating the image took hours not months and years. I ended up liking this version of the “Boat, Newburyport Dock,” which was down by Newburyport’s waterfront, in front of the Firehouse Center for the Arts.

I was creating images that I had always wanted to paint, but was never sure if I could make the paintings work. It was a wonderful feeling and an exciting visual adventure, In many ways I felt liberated, and had a hard time imagining going back to traditional painting, when I could accomplish so many interesting pictures and experiments in such a short amount of time.

Digital Images and Experiments, Landscapes, Seascapes, Skies

Seascape 3, digital image
Seascape 3, digital image, © Mary Baker

When I was experimenting with the birds (see previous post), in a serendipitous sort of way, Photoshop created abstract landscape backgrounds–one of those magical things that started to happen, experimenting with this new digital medium. It was a very fun, “eureka” moment, something that I never would have thought of myself.

Seascape 2, digital image
Seascape 2, digital image, © Mary Baker

So, I decided to start experimenting with creating my own digital landscapes, in this case, seascapes.  Painting backgrounds, i.e. skies, water on canvas with brushes and oil paint, would literally take me months and months, sometimes years to get it right.  Creating digital skies, seascapes with the new digital medium took hours. I was amazed, elated and completely fascinated.

Seascape 1, digital image
Seascape 1, digital image, © Mary Baker

The three top images are some of the seascapes that I created during the month of February 2013. This new digital experiment was taking me places that creatively I could never have imagined going.  And what I learned doing these seascapes helped me later on, when things got a little more complicated.

Seascape 4, digital image
Seascape 4, digital image, © Mary Baker

And this last seascape, Seascape 4, is one that I created in December of 2013. By that time I had learned a whole lot more on this great digital adventure.

Tree, Pasture, Digital Art Image

Tree, Pasture, Mary Baker © 2014, Digital Image
Tree, Pasture, Mary Baker © 2014, Digital Image

One of the “new” images.  “Tree, Pasture,” Mary Baker © 2014, integrated art image.

"The Pasture" Oil on Paper, 5.5" x 22" 2007 © Mary Baker (Sold)
“The Pasture” Oil on Paper, 5.5″ x 22″ 2007 © Mary Baker (Sold)

“The Pasture”
Oil on Paper, 5.5″ x 22″
2007 © Mary Baker


Same tree, same pasture, different medium.

Pathway at Maudslay, Realistic Landscape Painting

Pathway at Maudslay

Pathway at Maudslay

Oil on Canvas, 36″ x 48″ 2011

Mary Baker ©  2011

I’ve been working on this realistic landscape painting since 2004. I finished the painting a few weeks ago.  It’s part of a trilogy, and this is the last painting to be finished.  It’s found a great home (which means it’s sold).  The painting is of Mauslay State Park in Newburyport, Massachusetts in the spring.

Art Show of Mary Baker’s Paintings

Mary Baker–Paintings
October 31-December 31, 2009


Art show of Mary Baker’s paintings

Presented by Kerim Kaya
41 State Street, 
Newburyport, MA 01950

Opening Reception:
Saturday, November 8, 2009
6 PM-9 PM

(Apple Blossoms and Wall © Mary Baker, Oil on Canvas, 24″ x 36″)

“A contemporary realist painter, she captures, with lifelike precision, the stillness of the Plum Island marshes, the petals of a bright yellow iris in the South End, apple blossoms clinging to a brick wall at the old gardens at Maudslay State Park and the Common Pasture, its vista unchanged by centuries.”

“Putting things in perspective,” by Ulrika G. Gerth, © The Newburyport Current, November 6, 2009

Field 2–Realistic Landscape

Field 2
Oil on Canvas, “20 x 30”
Mary Baker © 2009

Another one of the new Newburyport realistic 2009 landscape paintings by Mary Baker.

Field 2–A visible light on the horizon that the winding pathway is leading to. A moody landscape painting that reflects feelings about the challenging economic times that we are living in. Fear, despair and hope in the future.

Realistic Landscape Painting

Field 1
Oil on Cavas, 12″ x 24″
Mary Baker © 2009

A new realistic landscape painting.

In these challenging economic times, I find that my paintings reflect how I feel. Dark sky, almost like a guillotine, a sliver of light at the horizon line, and a very long pathway leading towards the sunlight, but a sliver of sunlight, none the less.

The Wonders of Photoshop

As we enter, or already have entered, into this lousy economy 2009, where “the arts” have taken a tremendous hit, I’ve decided to tap into my “inner geek.” I’ve always loved Photoshop, and as a painter I have always felt that Photoshop is one of those “guilty pleasures.”

What would literally take me years to paint, I can accomplish in Photoshop in 30 minutes. Instant gratification. Presto. One of the things that I have also been doing, is learning all about designing websites. And I love it. It’s been enormously rewarding. The present design for the Mary Baker Art-Blog is a very own Mary Baker, Mary Baker Art creation. As a painter, the pink tube at the top would have taken me a very long, long time to paint, but in Photoshop, it’s a zip.

And I’ve also been experimenting with how to create different frames for the web for my paintings in Photoshop, which is an amazing amount of fun. In this post is a painting of the fields, where I live, in Newburyport, Massachusetts, a small oil on paper, in an experimental Photoshop frame.

Realistic Landscape Paintings and New York City Art Gallery


Marsh 4
Mary Baker © 2007
Oil on Paper
6″ x 20″


And a nice thing happened.

A New York City realist gallery, specializing in Contemporary Realism (the kind of realism I paint) contacted me, and the art gallery has taken a few of my paintings and will include them in a couple of group shows this year.

This happened a few of weeks ago.

The Gallery is:
The Sherry French Gallery
601 West 26th Street
NYC, NY 10001

The first show opens September 5– September 29, 2007.

“Mainly Maine
Landscape Paintings from Maine and Beyond”

Getting contacted by a New York gallery is nice. And seeing the realistic landscape, “Marsh 4” by Mary Baker, hanging in the heart of “Chelsea,” that has now become the heart of the art world in New York City, is nice too.

Mary Baker, (artist’s website)
(For a detailed a biography, please click here)

Artist, Realistic Landscape Paintings


“The Pasture”
Oil on Paper, 5.5″ x 22″
2007 © Mary Baker


Along with being an artist, I am also very involved in the community that I live in, Newburyport, Massachusetts. So much so that I started The Newburyport Blog a little over a year ago.

One of the things that I’ve learned about as an artist, is how involved many of the people of Newburyport, MA are in preserving “Open Space” or Newburyport’s landscapes, something which as an artist, I had always taken for granted. Something I had always presumed would always be there.

I think paying so much attention to this fight for Open Space in Newburyport, MA is one of the many reasons that as an artist that I have gone back to painting landscape paintings.

The painting, the “Pasture” above is one of the many places that the people of Newburyport are trying to preserve.

As an artist it is a privilege to still be able to paint realistic landscapes of my home town, Newburyport, MA.

More of the “Open Space” realistic landscape paintings can be found at my artist website Mary Baker Art.

Mary Baker

Mary Baker–Painting, Realistic Landscapes, The Marsh, Newburyport, MA


Marsh 2
Oil on Canvas
20″ x 30″
Mary Baker © 2006

Landscapes of the Marsh, Newburyport, MA

I’ve been painting the marshes of Newburyport, Massachusetts, a small New England seacoast city since 1983.

I always seem to go back to them. They are compelling.

Aside from the sense of wide open space, the vastness of Newburyport landscape, I keep wondering why I go back to painting the Newburyport marshes again and again.

Last year I found out something very interesting. I don’t know whether it is germane or not, but I am intrigued.

My ancestors farmed a large piece of land on Shelter Island. The land became a State Park.

Shelter Island is at the very end of Long Island, New York, in between the two forks at the end of Long Island.

I will reluctantly admit that I have never walked the land that my ancestors farmed so faithfully.

However, about a year ago I looked up pictures on the Internet of Shelter Island. And what I discovered was that the landscape is almost exactly like the landscape of Newburyport, Massachusetts.

So what I am wondering is if the landscape of Newburyport, MA and Shelter Island is somehow in the “hard drive” of my artistic unconscious.

Mary Baker

Mary Baker, Realistic Landscape Paintings of Newburyport’s Marsh

Marsh 1
Oil on Canvas,
24” x 36 “
Mary Baker © 2006
A painting of Newburyport’s marshes

Paintings of the marshes by Mary Baker are back!

This painting “Marsh 1” is the first one of the new series of marshes that has been completed.

The last marsh painting I finished was in 2002. Probably the last time the marsh paintings were exhibited was 1995. So it’s been a while for marsh paintings from Mary Baker, that’s for sure.

I wasn’t sure whether or not I had a marsh painting left in me, but I guess I do. I ended up liking this painting of Newburyport’s marsh a lot.

Mary Baker