2009 Kiawah Island Art and House Tour

 

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Artist Biography

Mary Whyte

 

Born in Ohio in 1953, Mary Whyte grew up with all the rural Midwest has to offer. She graduated from Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia, PA in 1976 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and teaching certification.

Mary Whyte has earned national recognition as an artist, and although she works in both watercolors and oils, she is most recognized for her figurative watercolors. Whyte’s portraits grace hundreds of corporate, university, and private collections, and her paintings have been included in numerous exhibitions. Several museums have purchased her portraits for their permanent collections including the Greenville County Museum of Art, Greenville, SC and the Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, SC.

An avid teacher, writer and art juror, Whyte has conducted painting workshops each year in different locations across the country for the past twenty years. Several of her articles have been featured in American Artist and Watercolor magazines. Whyte’s instruction book, Watercolor for the Serious Beginner (Watson-Guptill, 1995), is now in its seventh printing. An Artist’s Way of Seeing (Wyrick&Co.), by Whyte, was published in 2005.

Whyte has illustrated over a dozen children’s books, having several projects published by Chronicle Books and Dial Books. Many of the illustrations are now in collections of private individuals and institutions including the Mazza Collection of Children’s Book illustrations of the University of Findlay in Ohio.

In 1991, Mary Whyte and her husband Smith Coleman, moved to an island on the South Carolina coast and developed close friendships within the African-American community. Soon after her arrival and quite by accident she met Alfreda LaBoard, and her intrepid group of senior citizens who gather weekly to make quilts and socialize in a small rural church. Long time residents of Johns Island and descendants of slaves, these women would change her life and her paintings in astonishing and unexpected ways. Mary Whyte’s book, Alfreda’s World (Wyrick & Company, 2003), is about the shared experiences and values that deepened the friendship between the two remarkable women. The story is told in the touching watercolors and drawings that the artist created over a ten-year period.

 

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