Tenth Anniversary of the April Blogging from A to Z Challenge sign ups OPEN on March 1, 2019.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Challenge Participant Feature - Mary Montague Sikes!

Today’s Challenge Participate Feature is Mary Montague Sikes!

For the Challenge, Mary decided to do an animal painting a day, which I thought was very ambitious. Not only did she succeed, her paintings were beautiful. Please welcome Mary!

Alex, thank you for having me as part of the A to Z feature!

What made you choose your theme of a painting a day?

For many years, I've admired people who made the effort to create a new work of art every day. There are even web sites devoted to promoting that work. I thought that the challenge was the perfect opportunity to try out A Painting A Day.

Did you ever worry you wouldn’t be able to create a new painting every day?

Every day, I worried and wondered if I would actually be able to pull off yet another painting. That was especially true while I was in Boone, NC taking a workshop in experimental painting. It was hard to shift creative gears and paint an animal and post it in just a little over an hour for each of four days.

Which one was your favorite?

It's really hard to choose. I have them spread around the walls of my studio right now. The possum and the jaguar are among my favorites, possibly because I like the design of the background foliage in each of those paintings. My husband likes the X-Ray Tetra best. While I was working on them, I found I liked the newest work best on most days.

Did you work from a photo or create them from scratch?

I worked from photos—mostly that I took myself or borrowed from my daughter, Amy, who took animal pictures while visiting Tasmania last year. It would be hard to create animal paintings from scratch unless they were fantasy images.

Did you have a picture of a unicorn?

I looked at unicorn paintings on the Internet to get ideas then used the photo I took of the horse sculpture in Avon, Colorado and embellished it with a horn! I used that same photograph when I painted the horse for the A to Z Challenge.

What do you intend to do with the paintings now?

I took six of the animal paintings with me to Tides Inn for display on Memorial Day weekend. I also printed out a greeting card for each of the animals and sold them at the Art Marketplace set up at the Inn. The gift shop manager there kept all I had left, except for the alligator and the iguana. Turns out she doesn't like reptiles. I'm looking for a gallery or a place that would like to display all the animal paintings together in a show. Several people urged me to contact publishers of children's books with a proposal. I hope to do that as well. It's hard to pursue those things when I want to keep on painting instead!

Do you know what you’ll do for next year’s Challenge?

I loved doing the painting a day and would like to try something similar for next year. However, I don't know what subject might work best. I need to choose something that will keep up my enthusiasm to the last day!

As a bonus, from this year's A Painting A Day for the A to Z Challenge, I have a new painting almost finished on the wall of my studio. It's 30" x 42" acrylic on stretched canvas. For several years, the canvas has been leaning on the floor roughly sketched out with charcoal. Each day in April (except for the time in Boone), I used the leftover acrylics on my palette from the Challenge painting on this new work. I haven't named it yet but hope to have it completed in early June. I'll unveil it then! What a nice surprise to get an extra painting from A to Z!

Thank you, Mary! Your paintings rocked.

Co-host Ninja Captain Alex is the author of Best Sellers CassaStar and CassaFire and his blog can be found HERE


  1. And I was worrying about what photo to post. Amazing.

  2. Mary, these are amazing! Even more so, when one realizes you have painted one a day. Sorry I missed your blog during the challenge.

  3. Thank you, Alex, for having my fun paintings featured here. It was a truly great learning experience!

    Bill, there were a lot of steps involved including getting a good photograph of the painting. When I worked on one of the paintings into the night, it was harder to get true colors in the photo. Thank you for visiting.

    Jarm, thank you. I wish I could have visited more blogs during the Challenge. Will visit yours now!

  4. I loved Mary's paintings during the Challenge, hers was one of my favorite sites to visit each day. Great interview, Alex and Mary!

  5. I love the jaguar. I thought it was really clever of you to put them on cards.

  6. Mary, thanks again for doing the interview!

  7. Julie, I really appreciated you following me so faithfully throughout the Challenge!

    Diane, the jaguar is one of my favorites from the Challenge! Thank you!

    Alex, thanks so much for having me for the interview today!

  8. Sorry I missed your posts during the challenge, but that really is a challenge to do a painting a day, I am impressed.


  9. I read your reflections post, and remember your series as a stand-out. So glad Alex featured you today! I hope something wonderful comes from this amazing collection of paintings!
    Tina @ Life is Good

  10. A great interview Alex and a wonderful blog theme.


  11. Jo, thank you for your visit. It was a fun challenge!

    Tina, thank you so much!Having all these new paintings is already something good. They make it fun to enter my studio. I am hoping for a book from them somehow!

    Thanks, Yvonne for stopping by!

  12. Gorgeous theme. Maybe picture books are in your future!

  13. Hi Alex - how lovely to have Mary here .. and her animal A-Zs were gorgeous to see ..

    That will be wonderful if you'll do something similar next year .. but in the meantime have lots of projects on hand ..

    Good luck to you both .. cheers Hilary

  14. Thanks, Mary. I would love a picture book from this!

    Hilary, I enjoyed the interview by Alex who has to be a magic man to travel in so many places at once. Thanks for visiting!

  15. Mary, your work is inspiring. I love the tiger! I always think I'm going to paint and then don't. I need to take up a similar challenge and make myself stick to it.
    Thanks for the reminder.


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