Mary Ellen Raneri is a graduate of Seton Hill College with a bachelor’s degree in French, Her master’s degree in French literature and linguistics is from Purdue University.
She was employed by Ligonier Valley School District for 30 years where she taught French and Writing Workshop until 2011. She also taught English composition as an adjunct instructor at Westmoreland Community College.
Mary is published in “Reminisce” magazine and National Education Association’s, “This Active Life.” In addition, she is a contributing author for “Hometown” magazine.
Mary has exhibited in several juried art shows in the area including Seton Hill University, the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, and “The Art of Love”show at the Greensburg Garden and Civic Center.
Presently, Mary is pursuing an associate in fine arts degree at Westmoreland County Community College. She enjoys working with a variety of media .
She resides in Latrobe, Pa with her husband, her mom and her two wiener dogs, Lilly and Alfredo.
There is something important to me about remembering the past—especially my family, my childhood and my hometown. I want to tell other people all about it. When I look at old dusty photo albums or sift through a box of stuff from my folks’ house or from my grandmother’s home, I feel like I opened a treasure chest.
My artwork grows from ordinary past experiences and former daily life of my family. To create art around these subjects, I tap into memories and I work from old black and white photos and cherished artifacts. Strolling on a Sunday afternoon, gardening, dancing, and baking bread—portraits of simple people doing simple everyday things—those are my subjects.
In addition, much of my art is influenced by my mother’s and my grandmother’s love of flowers and gardening. I find inspiration in the memories of hollyhocks and tiger lilies, vegetables (especially green beans and tomatoes) and the old grape arbor in her back yard.
Many of my watercolor paintings typically begin with yupo paper (a plastic paper) and masking fluid; thus, areas of my sketch where I want to accentuate light or lines, are preserved under the mask (which I later remove). Next, I apply the paint with a small foam roller. In addition to the roller, I might use a credit card, comb, dish scrubbing pad, bubble wrap or some other implement that generates texture. Although I use a brush from time to time, I usually start by rolling the watercolor on quickly and loosely from all directions with energy and spontaneity.
I became particularly interested in this process of watercolor when I took a workshop from watercolorist, Eileen Sudzina. I was drawn to the looseness and freedom of her painting and I explored this method with my subjects.
Besides working with watercolor, I do drawings with charcoal and ink or I paint with acrylic or oil paint. Moreover, wool, silk and cotton fabric all make up some of my selected media. I particularly like to wet felt wool (wet felt wool is also called laminate or Nuno felting with pieces of silk). I also enjoy sewing.
Regardless of the selected medium or the chosen subject, my art work values the memories that I have of my family and all those childhood years that I spent with them.