South Bend Museum of Art Education Blog

A Place Where Art Education is Discussed and Explored!

Mary Firtl Shares Her SBMA Roots

Artist Mary Firtl giving an art demo at last summer’s Grape Jam.

My journey with the SBMA began at the early age of 5 taking children’s art classes. As a daughter of a professional fashion illustrator, there was always creativity in the household. The classes kept me occupied with various mediums and sparked a greater interest in fine art through the old “Art Center’s” quaint facilities and course offerings up until my high school years as an art major at LaSalle. Being accepted at the Herron School of Art, I still felt the need to keep up with my painting classes during summer breaks and often took Oil Painting classes with Jim Borden, an excellent instructor who shared very specific techniques working in the medium. This continuing education at the Center helped strengthen my abilities and I went on to earn my BFA in Painting.

“Bendix Woods Vista” by Mary Firtl

Years later, I learned portraiture from Ron Monsma at SBMA.  As a courtroom sketch artist for WSBT. I found Ron’s teaching method—implementing not only his fantastic talent but utilizing the technique of drawing on the right side of brain—a major turning point in my ability to draw and see things better. My court sketching was greatly improved and to this day, I still utilize the method when I work on both my own and commissioned pieces.

“Off the Beaten Path” by Mary Firtl

Even now, SBMA has been a great way to connect with fellow artists with varying degrees of ability and backgrounds while making new friends as well as finding support and encouragement through my instructor. Having begun the Landscapes in Soft Pastels class back in 2006 with Cathy McCormick, Through Cathy’s classes and instruction, I’ve gained more self-confidence to further develop my own style, enter competitions, demo my work, and become more involved in the local gallery art scene. With Cathy’s help I feel I’ve mastered the materials and can now branch out with more creative and award-winning endeavors.

Mary’s pastel landscapes are available for purchase at SBMA’s Dot Shop.  You can also learn more about her on her Arts Everywhere profile.
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