Maine Medical Center
Education: Dietetics degree, University of Wisconsin-Stout. Art degree, Defiance College. Education Doctorate, University of Southern Maine
Married. One son, Scott, one daughter, Julie
Mary Keysor sees a lot of similarities in her vocation—foodservice—and her avocation—art. Most importantly, she says, the creativity she displays in her art also helps her conceptualize solutions to problems she encounters in her job as foodservice director for Maine Medical Center in Portland. “If I can think of a creative way to do something, there are others on my staff who can make it happen,” she explains. Keysor spoke with FSD about her art history and where it’s taken her.
“I’d always sort of dabbled in art. I had a great art teacher in high school, and I learned a lot. When I went to college I began by studying dress design, but one thing led to another and I ended up in the food and nutrition area.
I think the turning point for me with my art was when I moved to Maine from the Midwest. My kids were young and I did a sketch of them for our Christmas card. I didn’t like it so I crumpled it up and threw it in the trash. But my mother found it and picked it up. She took it and had note cards made up. When I found out, I realized how much my mother believed in me, and I’ve been doing this ever since.
I’ve done oil painting, watercolors and ceramics, but now I’m focused on illustrations, using pen and ink. My subjects are women who have influenced me in a business sense—people who exhibit confidence and the ability for out-of-the-box thinking. They are Women With An Attitude, and I give them all crazy hair styles.
I got into illustrations because with oil painting you have to be committed. Once you start you really have to stay with it, and my job is really too time-consuming for that. With pen and ink, you can pick it up and work on it for a little, then put it down for later.
I do have a line of cards for sale in two local boutiques, but I don’t have the time to market myself and sell things. Also, it is hard to take my stuff and sell it; artists can be very critical of their own work. I have donated oil paintings and illustrations to HFM for its silent auctions, and some people buy my work and then donate it to auctions. Recently a friend of mine opened a consignment boutique in Massachusetts, and she asked me to design her logo. I did, and now it’s on her Web site.
I did some wall hangings with pottery, reverse mosaics, and I think I would never part with them, because I did them at a point in my life that was very meaningful for me. A reverse mosaic is when you start with clay, like a pie crust, and create a design and cut it out. You cut the design into pieces and each piece is fired separately. Then you rebuild the design into the mosaic.
My son, Scott, is an outstanding artist, but that’s not what he does, either. He’s a high school teacher of students with special needs. He has the ability to paint or draw faces. I don’t draw faces very well, so in my illustrations my faces are shaded with hats or hair. Scott urges me to paint not what I see but what I feel.
I really love my job; foodservice is full of creative types and conceptual types. But art is that other part of myself.”