Mary Duffy Reveals Strength in Bold Landscapes

Originally published February 19, 2013

Connemara by Mary Duffy

Years ago, I enrolled in an online workshop called Smartist whose goal
was to help artists market their art. As I browsed through the websites of
the various participants, Mary Duffy’s art leapt out at me. Her craggy
landscapes of the Irish countryside were boldly beautiful, with deep, dark
blues like Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” but with the angularity and volume
of Cézanne.

I sent Mary a note of admiration, followed by a quick exchange of emails. Then she said something that I didn’t comprehend at first, and which later blew my mind. Mary has no arms. She paints with her feet.

“Are you kidding me?” I quickly shot back. Not a lot of tack there, I realize, but I meant no malice, and somehow she knew this. She thought her photo was clear. I looked again. Sure enough, there she was, sitting, wearing a loose blouse draped over her shoulders. All I saw was a woman with her head turned, smiling at the camera.

To her credit, Mary does not like to be appreciated as “the artist who paints with her feet” but rather, as the artist who creates wonderful paintings. She certainly does. She’s a phenomenal talent with a bold and energetic style.

Browsing through her website, I learned she was in a movie called “Fur” and that she got the part after sending in a reel of herself making tea. The reel is a must-see and a chance for you to realize and appreciate, as you fumble with chopsticks, not just how easy life is for you, but how difficult it must be for her to do a million and one things we take for granted.

I admire Mary not only for her fine sense of color and deft mastery of the painting technique, but also for not making excuses for herself, for not asking for pity or for a special pass at the box office. And for smiling at
the camera.