Delighted to have Jessica Grutkowski writing about artist Jen Scully - I've been admiring her coastal water colors for quite a while now!
There's truth in the saying that sometimes art just speaks to you. I've been eyeing the whimsical abstract and watercolor artwork of Southport, CT-based artist Jen Scully of Mack & Ro for nearly two years and was excited to peek inside her creative space.
We finally met last year at PopShop Market, where I fell in love with her work and purchased a small watercolor painting of the American Flag. While Scully is known for her bold, acrylic and sometimes nautical inspired work on canvas, she is also talented with watercolor and frequently works with clients on unique, commissioned pieces.
Painting has always been her passion. Like many, Scully followed a traditional education route, receiving her bachelors degree in psychology from my alma matter, Boston University (small world!). While she fell a few credits shy of receiving her minor in fine arts, it's clear to see that true talent isn't born out of a degree alone.
After college, Scully worked in Cambridge, Mass. where she decided to marry her training in psychology and her love of art to begin a career in Art Therapy. She went on to pursue a masters degree in the field and enjoyed working for area non-profits, helping children cope with grief and illness through art.
When she moved to Southport nine years ago, she decided it was time to explore the idea of following her dream and pushing past painting as a hobby. Like so many moms, she yearned for something more. While she never imagined a full-time career as an artist, she knew she had to take a chance and start somewhere.
"When you're a mom, you don't get to pick your creative time," admitted Scully, mom of two boys, Macklin and Ronan (hence, Mack & Ro). "Whether I wanted to or not, I had to get the creative juices flowing when the kids took their naps. When they woke up, I had to stop - even if I was in my groove."
Now that her children are a bit older, she has more flexibility and recently claimed some dedicated studio space in their home. The sun-drenched second floor room is where the magic happens. There are bins full of paint and supplies, two desk spaces with works in progress, while finished pieces line the walls.
Born in Maine, it's clear to see that New England's Coastal Landscape inspires much of her art. Blues in every shade fill her work area, while a simple watercolor piece of a whale that used to hang in her son's room catches my eye. Scully promised to give me first dibs if she ever sells it.
If blue is not your favorite hue, Scully welcomes the opportunity to collaborate on commissioned work for clients and will happily create something brand new or play off an existing concept.
"I can work with fabric swatches and photos for inspiration, or literally walk through the client's home with them for a more hands-on approach," explained Scully. "First, I like to start with a smaller mock-up so the client can see the color in their home. Then I'll send photos to show my progress. Sometimes I think a piece isn't done and they'll say, 'Stop, I love it.'"
Other original Mack & Ro pieces have special places throughout the home. They live alongside artwork that speaks to Scully and her husband, who have made it a tradition to purchase a new piece of art annually.
Perhaps the coolest part about Scully's work is that each piece is stylistically true to the Mack & Ro brand. You can spot her work anywhere. Recently I popped into The Beehive, a fabulous gift and design shop in Fairfield, and I noticed a Mack & Ro piece on the wall. It was so clearly her work I didn't even have to look for her signature.
Her latest work is a watercolor map of Southport that will be released as a limited edition print next month. The map highlights iconic Southport spots like the Pequot Library, Sasco Beach and The Horseshoe. If you're not a "Southport-er," don't worry, she plans to create maps of other local towns in the future. Stay tuned!