Mary Jane Ansell

United Kingdom 1972


Mary Jane Ansell
Mary Jane Ansell
United Kingdom
April 21, 2016
I've studied International Relations and Diplomacy, but i'm actually interested in economy and social studies. There is something in art that somehow explains a lot that's happening in the world right now, and i seek to uncover it. Feel free to contact me at

Good things take time. To build something great you must invest not just countless hours but your emotions as well. Layer after layer of paint, Mary Jane Ansell builds up her paintings, her figures varying from being gentle and careless to the ones who are bold and confident. She likes to explore the narrative, and her work is intriguing as she manages to catches a contained but dramatic moments. Her work is recognizable through all the emotions shown on the faces of the characters but also the skin tones, which seem very realistic.

Mary - Herald, 2015, contact beauty girl, life in London
Mary Jane Ansell – Herald, 2015

The Details

The process begins with a light charcoal sketch and then the artist builds up a monochrome grisaille underpainting. She uses an indirect method, adding a layer after layer, making her paintings more and more detailed. It is a time-consuming process which ends with the gradual adding of color with both transparent glazes and full bodied color. As a result, the surface becomes egg shell smooth and it offers very delicate tonal variations impossible with other painting methods. The artist prefers to paint flesh with a realistic range of colors rather that use homogenized brownish skin tones some other artists employ. All of her artworks are oil on aluminum, and that decision came after she was asked to paint a portrait for a family who lived in Burma, where the humidity levels are very high. She originally mounted the linen on the aluminum panels but soon found out she enjoyed working on the panels without the linen.

All of her paintings are oil on aluminum

Mary - Hope and the Reckoning, 2014
Mary Jane Ansell – Hope and the Reckoning, 2014

The Focus is on the Central Character

Ansell was born in a small town called Market Drayton, which is located in Shropshire County. She earned her BA (Hons) in Illustration from Brighton University. Her grandmother was an artist, and Ansell grew up in a home where everyone was supportive of her choice to pursue a career in art. She was a finalist in prestigious BP Portrait Award in 2004, 2009, 2010 and 2012. One other thing her work is recognizable for is the fact that she edits out the environment which allows a greater focus on the central character and the objects they interact with. She usually works on several pieces at a time, as it stops her from focusing too much on just one piece and distorting any problems out of proportion but it also keeps her productive.

She was a finalist in prestigious BP Portrait Award in 2004, 2009, 2010 and 2012

Mary - Winged Consort I, 2015 - Winged Consort II, 2015
Mary Jane Ansell – Winged Consort I, 2015 / Winged Consort II, 2015

The Goals

Ansell is already an established artist, but that doesn’t stop her from wanting more. Since she exhibits a lot, there are a significant amount of time commitments and deadlines. They are sometimes helpful as they provide more focus, but sometimes they make experimenting with new directions almost impossible. So, one of the goals for the artist is to work without thinking when the piece must be finished, so she can explore further. Recently, she began introducing more color and drama to her pieces and working on a larger scale, so she’s been spending less time on the underpainting.

She is represented by Corey Helford Gallery in Los Angeles.

Mary Jane Ansell lives and works in North Lane, Brighton.

Featured image: Mary Jane Ansell – portrait

All images © Mary Jane Ansell

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2016Mary Jane AnsellFairfax Gallery, LondonSolo
2015Mary Jane Ansell U.S. Premiere ExhibitionArcadia Contemporary, New York, NYSolo
2014Contemporary RomanticismArcadia Contemporary, New York, NYGroup
2013Liberty RestsFairfax Gallery, LondonSolo
2013LA Art ShowArcadia GalleryGroup
2013Fairfax Tunbridge Wells Group showFairfax GalleryGroup
2012The Affordable Art Fair SingaporeSingapureGroup
2012Summer ExhibitionFairfax Galleries, Norfolk and Tunbridge WellsGroup
2012London Art FairBusiness Design Centre, Islington LondonGroup
2011The Affordable Art Fair SingaporeSingapureGroup
2011Affordable Art FairNew York CityGroup
2011New Masters: Classical Figure with a Contemporary ApproachSUBLIMINAL PROJECTS, Los Angeles, CAGroup
2011London Art FairBusiness Design Centre, IslingtonGroup
2010The Beauty of the HoursFairfax Gallery, LondonSolo
2010Affordable Art FairLondon Battersea Park – Fairfax GalleryGroup
2009Mary Jane AnsellFairfax Gallery, LondonSolo
2009Christmas ExhibitionsFairfax Gallery, Chelsea, Tunbridge Wells and NorfolkGroup
2008Affordable Art FairFairfax GalleryGroup
2008Threadneedle Figurative PrizeMall Galleries, LondonGroup
2008Fairfax Gallery Norfolk Summer ExhibitionFairfax GalleryGroup
2008August Fairfax Gallery Tunbridge Wells Summer ExhibitionFairfax GalleryGroup
2008Glasgow Art FairGlasgow, with Fairfax GalleryGroup
2008London Art FairIslington. Stand G27 with Fairfax GalleryGroup
2007ReflectionsFairfax Gallery, LondonSolo
2007Christmas ExhibitionFairfax Gallery, 23 The Pantiles,Tunbridge Wells, and Fairfax Gallery, Burnham Market, NorfolkGroup
2007Amsterdam Affordable Art FairFairfax Gallery StandGroup
2007Affordable Art FairLondon Battersea Park – Fairfax GalleryGroup
2007Summer ExhibitionFairfax Gallery, Tunbridge WellsGroup
2007Summer ExhibitionFairfax Gallery, Burnham Market, NorfolkGroup
2007Royal Society of Portrait Painters ExhibitionMall Galleries, Pall Mall, LondonGroup
2007Glasgow Art FairGlasgowGroup
2007FormLondon Olympia with Fairfax GalleryGroup
2007London Art FairBusiness Design Centre, IslingtonGroup
2006Anima/AnimusFairfax Gallery, LondonSolo
2006Christmas Group ShowsFairfax Gallery, Tunbridge Wells, Chelsea and Burnham Market, NorfolkGroup
2006Affordable Art FairLondonGroup
2006Human Figure Group ShowFairfax Gallery, Tunbridge WellsGroup
2006Glasgow Art FairGeorge Square, Glasgow, with The Fairfax GalleryGroup
2006150th Anniversary Mystery Portrait GalaNational Portrait Gallery Group
2006London Art FairDesign Centre, Islington with Fairfax GalleryGroup
2005Christmas ExhibitionFairfax Gallery, 5 Park Walk, Chelsea, LondonGroup
2005Christmas ExhibitionFairfax Gallery, 23 The Pantiles, Tunbridge WellsGroup
2005Affordable Art FairChelsea, with Fairfax GalleryGroup
2005Human Form ExhibitionFairfax Gallery, 23 The Pantiles, Tunbridge WellsGroup
2005Summer ExhibitionFairfax Gallery, 5 Park Walk, Chelsea, LondonGroup
2005Summer ExhibitionFairfax Gallery, Burnham Market, NorfolkGroup
2005artLONDONChelsea, with Fairfax GalleryGroup
200510th Anniversary ExhibitionFairfax Gallery, The Pantiles, Tunbridge WellsGroup
2005Royal Society of Portrait Painters ExhibitionMall Galleries, Pall Mall, LondonGroup
2005Fairfax Gallery Chelsea Launch Exhibition5 Palk Walk, Chelsea, LondonGroup
2005Sussex OpenBrighton and Hove Museum and Art GalleryGroup
2005Century Fine ArtWindsor, BerkshireGroup
2004UnknownFairfax Gallery, The Pantiles, Tunbridge WellsGroup
2004Brighton Art FairCorn Exchange, BrightonGroup
2004The Daily Mail Not the Turner PrizeThe Mall Galleries, LondonGroup
2004BP Portrait Award 2004The National Portrait Gallery, LondonGroup
2004CorrelationThe Old Seager Distillery, DeptfordGroup
2004The Art of Love exhibition, LondonArtArndean Gallery, Cork Street, LondonGroup