We are delighted to have Mary Ann Rogers as our Woman of the Week. She is a watercolour artist whose highly collectible paintings feature the animals she observes in Northumberland where she lives.
How would you sum yourself up in one paragraph?
Happily married (second husband chosen with a lot more care than the first!) two wonderful daughters, 33 and 35, both professional musicians and mothers. I am an artist/gallery owner. One of my career highlights was being awarded ‘Best selling Published Artist’ by the Fine Art Trade Guild in 2009, another was having my gallery build filmed for a two part documentary.
How have you changed since you turned 50. What age you feel right now?
I find the numbers thing depressing. Having done the whole family/bringing up children thing far too early (single mum of two/divorced by 25!), I didn’t really start to explore the sports and activities I really liked until I was in my forties, which has made the past 10 to 15 years increasingly exciting and fun. Apart from pain from recent injuries, I feel younger and fitter than I did in my 30’s. I guess I feel about 30.
Where do you call home and where might you dream of living?
I haven’t fallen far from the tree! My love of the Northumberland countryside is very deep and strong. I was born in Newcastle, but have lived in this house, just 30 miles away, for 32 years. At one point there was a chance to move to Australia with a boyfriend, but that didn’t work out. I moved out of town to a tiny remote cottage near here with no electricity and spring water aged 20, pregnant with my first daughter. The place was very challenging – starting the generator a particular hate of mine! When we moved here a few years later I just loved being able to turn lights on and off, run a fridge/freezer and a hairdryer!
My dream home would be on an island, right next to the sea off the west coast, where the daily dramas brought by the weather would be thrilling. From a practical point of view it would be a disaster.
What you like to do in your free time?
Although I am currently recovering from a horrific riding accident in January, I usually enjoy long walks with my husband, cycling, and horse riding. I do some British Eventing as well as unaffiliated dressage and show jumping, which involves lots of training throughout the year. For two months in the summer I enjoy mounted falconry with a group of other people who also relish this ancient sport. This takes us regularly along the Roman wall, where walkers are often speechless to meet a small group of horsemen and women in green livery, carrying a trained falcon and hunting crows – hated by the hill farmers for their habits of pecking at young weak lambs while they are still alive, and destroying the carefully cut and wrapped silage bales, needed for winter feed. I’m also a keen gardener, and love growing vegetables.
Where do you do your fashion shopping?
Some of my best buys have been from charity shops, but my everyday favourites are Seasalt, White Stuff and Mistral. For special occasions I like Little Black Dress, Lipsy, Hobbs and had a blow out and bought a dragonfly blue velvet coat with a zipped front by Christian Lacroix which is a stunning standby for any occasion, and can even just be worn with underwear by itself. I frequently buy cashmere cardigans from ebay. I cant bear to pay full price when they all end up with paint stains on the wrists.
Have you embraced technology?
Yes. Technology has revolutionised my life in the past 30 years since I’ve been a full time artist. I absolutely love the fact that I can share so much of what I do easily and quickly. A customer can mention an interest in a particular painting, and within seconds I can send photos of it framed, on a wall in my gallery. I was probably the first artist in Northumberland to have a website built, back in the 90’s, and have always tried to have the best website possible, which makes visiting, viewing, engaging and buying as straightforward as possible. Everything from online banking to communicating with my customers, to buying materials, designing and sending finished artwork to printers etc, and even social media were all unknown back in the 80’s. Everything used to be done using the postal service, with limited equipment, so I really appreciate all the innovations which have come along. It seems boring but my online banking app is probably my favourite, along with iplayer for those long baths!
Any preferred beauty products or specific beauty tips?
I am torn between hair colour (no idea what the brand is!) and ‘Protect and Perfect’ skin serum by No 7. The skin serum is like balm to my skin. It makes it feel beautifully smooth, and I think it really does help with the wrinkles. I buy it for my daughters now and urge them to use it!
At one point I used to have bags under my eyes that bothered me, and I heard that pile cream reduced them, which did work for me. Nowadays I either can’t see the bags anymore or maybe I don’t notice them!
Do you have a signature dish?
I am very lucky that my husband is much more interested in cooking than I am. He loves to put together a beautiful dish, and buys the ingredients, follows a recipe and I always appreciate it. I don’t really have a signature dish, my favourite is a huge tray of roast vegetables – onions, peppers, carrots, courgettes, beans… anything at all, all covered in olive oil and herbs then put in a slow over for an hour or so, eaten with couscous. I use a big Delia Smith cookbook most often, but for baking or more old fashioned recipes I still use Mrs Beeton. My favourite food is either pan fried scallops or any vegetable dish, but liquorice is up there too.
What’s your tipple?
I love a Gin Tonic with lime, but no ice.
Do you have a book recommendation?
The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks is my long time favourite book. Laugh out loud, macabre, funny, well written, I love it.
What do you love to watch on TV?
I still watch Corrie – it’s my way of completely relaxing, but any dark drama or period drama is my cup of tea. I hate fantasy/sci fi.violence, guns. Lately I have enjoyed things like Marcella, Broadmoor, Top of the Lake, Lady in White and the Durrells.
Any genre of music you particularly like listening to?
I have fairly eclectic musical tastes, and my spotify history would probably make anyone laugh – it includes, Bach, Telemann, Chopin, Hildegarde von Bingen also Tracy Chapman, Florence and the Machine, Van Morrison, Elbow and also folk music by Kate Rusby, Aly Bain, Phil Cunningham and any of the great Shetland fiddlers.
What can’t you live without?
Terribly boring, but I bought an iPhone 6S plus a few years ago and I really could not do without it.
Who do you most admire/aspire to?
I admire brave talented people who are prepared to take risks. One of them is Emma Bridgewater, but her sisters Clover Stroud (writer) and Nell Gifford (circus master) are also startlingly brave and clever and I admire them all.
Your top tip for #womenover50
A bit like the Nike thing… just do it! Be brave!
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