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Style · June 13, 2019

Faces of Fauquier: Nature and still lifes inspire artist

Photo/Don Del Rosso
“It’s a discipline,” Mary Anne Matteson says for her work as an artist. “It’s not just the physical act. I’m thinking. The creative process is always going on.”
I have to respond to the beauty of what I see. And, I have to put it into some visible form — the feelings inside of myself.
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
The Upstate New York native started to draw at about age 11.

Not long after that, Mary Anne Matteson of Warrenton took up painting.

An accomplished artist, Ms. Matteson, 63, traces her talent for those and other media — etchings, pastel, prints and sculpture — to her father’s family, which claimed a master cabinetmaker who also crafted musical instruments.

“I think I got the gift from my father, and my mother taught me how to use it,” said Ms. Matteson, who moved from Prince William to Fauquier about 27 years ago.

In earlier years, her subjects ran the gamut, with greater emphasis in those days on portraits.

“In graduate school I had a ton of models,” explained Ms. Matteson, who earned a master’s degree of fine arts from George Washington University in 1998. “But I’m thinking about starting to hire models and have people sit for me, so I can get back to that work.”

Until then, she creates mostly still lifes and landscapes.

“Still lifes are right there,” said Ms. Matteson, who works in oils on Belgian linen canvases. “Anything you need to learn about painting you can learn from a still life. It’s amazing the mysteries that can show up in a still life, if you really look.”

Producing landscapes appeals to her simply “because it’s nature,” the artist said.

To view her work, click here.

No specific artists have informed her work, said Ms. Matteson, who resists characterizing it.

“I just draw what I see, paint what I see,” she said. “It’s my style; it’s my brush work. It’s me.”

But, Early Renaissance painter Piero della Francesca ranks as her favorite artist.

“He was a mathematician. He was a fabulous designer. I think he actually enjoyed studying geometry more than painting.”

Besides bachelor’s and master’s degrees in art, Ms. Matteson’s education includes courses at the Corcoran School of Art, Maryland Art Institute, Virginia Commonwealth University and two years as an artist in residency in Italy.

Her instructional experience includes teaching art history and design at Lord Fairfax Community College and drawing at the former William Woodward School of Fine Art in Warrenton.

Ms. Matteson’s work has been exhibited in Washington, the region and locally at Berkley Gallery at 40 Main St. in Warrenton.

Working about 40 hours a week, she paints and/or draws daily.

“It’s a discipline,” Ms. Matteson said. “It’s not just the physical act. I’m thinking. The creative process is always going on.”

While the price of her work varies, Ms. Matteson has sold a portrait for $6,000.

• Age

• Home 

• Work

• Why do you do paint and draw?
I have to. I have to respond to the beauty of what I see. And, I have to put it into some visible form — the feelings inside of myself. And, it’s really nice, because I’ll never have to go through the trauma of retirement. I’ll always be doing something

• Family
Divorced, 2 children and 1 grandson.

• Education
Master’s degree, fine arts, George Washington University, 1998; bachelor’s, art, State University of New York at Oswego, 1978; Chenango Valley (N.Y.) High School, 1973.

• Church involvement
Alter Guild, Saint James’ Episcopal Church, Warrenton, 2009-present; choir, Saint James’ Episcopal Church, 1992-present.

• How long have you lived in Fauquier?
27 years

• Why do you live here? 
I just wanted to be closer to my church.

• How do you describe this county? 
It has a very, very rich history. The people are very friendly. They’re intelligent, enlightened, helpful. They welcome all; they’re hospitable.

• What would you change about Fauquier?
Absolutely nothing.

• What do you do for fun?
Play the piano and violin. And, I sing. Painting is my work; music is my play.

• What’s your favorite place in Fauquier?
Warrenton Farmers Market.

• What will Fauquier be like in 10 years? 
It will look even better. I think there’s a protective wall around this county, and the best of it is not going to be undermined by cement.

• Favorite TV show?
“Jesus of Nazareth” — six hours long!

• Favorite movie? 
“Babette’s Feast.”

• Favorite book?
“Pilgrim at Tinker Creek” by Annie Dillard.

• Favorite vacation spot? 
Saint John, U.S. Virgin Islands.

• Favorite food? 
Veggie sticks.

• What is the best advice you have ever received? From whom? 
My mom. She said: “Take care of all that God has given you.” I have my children, my family heritage, my home. I have a great dog. I’ve been given a lot of gifts — intellectually, artistically.

• Who’s your hero and why?
My father. He fought in World War II, in the Philippines. He made some mistakes. He didn’t abandon us. And, he still loved me. My father is probably the bravest man I’ve ever known.

• What would you do if you won $5 million in the lottery? 
I would have my kids stop working, so my daughter could write poetry and my son could invent things. I would invest in things. I’d be careful not to give all of it away. I would stay in my house. Might get a new car.

Have a suggestion?
Do you know someone who lives in Fauquier County you would like to see in Faces of Fauquier? Don Del Rosso at
or Lou Emerson at
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jamescameron · August 17, 2019 at 3:45 am
Art is such a large part of our everyday lives, we hardly even stop to think about it.
annageorge · August 17, 2019 at 3:20 am
Art is the product or process of deliberately arranging items in a way that influences and affects one or more of the senses.
RichardYarbro · June 26, 2019 at 8:51 am
This woman is just incredible, I am very much inspired. I had an idea to write a story about her talent on the site Mary Anne Matteson should be interested in this.
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