On the cover, "Ellie and Friends" is a commissioned portrait, painted by Bridgewater, NJ artist, Maryann Ficker.
Maryann began her formal art training in high school on Long Island. Her lifelong connection to the natural world and interest in how it is put together, led her to study science, math and art in college. At The University at Albany, she studied studio art extensively, focusing on painting and printmaking but graduated with a B.S. in Mathematics. Post graduate, Maryann continued her studies at the University of New Mexico attracted by their printmaking program's excellent reputation. There she continued painting and printmaking, and also experimented with collage and papermaking. For about ten years she digressed, got a Masters in Computer Science and spent her creative energies designing software. After having two children, she began creating art in earnest, once again.
Maryann works primarily in oil paint and pastel. In her portraits and figurative paintings she focuses on creating a narrative using facial expression as well as objects, animals, or other elements which give clues to her subject's thoughts, state of mind and place along life's journey. Elements of dreams, daydreams, magic, humor and play sometimes find their way into the image. Maryann's strong connection to nature is evident in her Plein Air (French for "open air") landscapes. She paints many of her landscapes on site, mostly in Central New Jersey. Maryann is also attracted to mediums other than her usual oil paint and pastel. Over the years these have included many different materials, most recently glass mosaic and tissue paper collage.
Maryann shows her work at many venues in New Jersey. Information can be found in the "News" section of her website. Her most recent award was first place at Watchung Arts Center's Members Juried Show. As a result, she will be having a solo show during the month of December at Watchung Arts Center.