Though Mary Ellen was born in New York, she had more adventurous plans. University in Washington DC turned into a brief career in graphic design, a few years of studying art in London and a job in adventure tourism in NYC which led her to settle in the Galapagos Islands, 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador.
After two decades of earthquakes, volcanic and political eruptions, motherhood, divorce and a handful of creative business opportunities, Mary Ellen returned to London to pursue a Diploma in Botanical Painting at the English Gardening School located in the Chelsea Physic Garden– an adventure in itself.
Mary Ellen was the Diploma Course Manager at The English Gardening School for 7 years and painted in her spare time. Most of her artwork focuses on the plant’s relationship to its habitat, from places close to her heart.
In 2008 Mary Ellen was sponsored to return to the Galapagos in celebration of Darwin’s 200th anniversary, to research and paint the six most endangered birds and their habitat. The resulting watercolour paintings continue to raise awareness and funds for the Galapagos Conservation Trust, based in London.
In 2011, the Chelsea Physic Garden commissioned Mary Ellen to paint the butterflies found within the garden and their nectar source. This was done to honour James Petiver, the ‘grandfather of British butterflies’ and past demonstrator of the Physic Garden. These watercolours were used for a series of note cards sold in their shop reminding visitors of the delicate environmental balance of this special garden.