Psychological and Macabre: The Painting Portfolio of Mary Hayes

A painting of a man in a coat smokingSmoking Man, oil on wood panel

Mary Hayes is a Canadian artist who uses oil and watercolour media to explore psychological and macabre concepts. The artist’s works often draw inspiration from Baroque and romantic painting styles, nodding towards figurative tropes from specific paintings and artistic eras. 

A painting of a man with wolf-like facial hair on a deep blue backgroundFull Moon, watercolour


The artist’s painting tend to lean into a macabre aesthetic, and as we saw in our previous feature of Mary’s eerie partial abstracts, the artist achieves a kind of low, ominous tone throughout her portfolio. The works are technically fascinating, blending a subdued colour palette with skillful portraiture and figurative painting, often taking advantage of negative space or monochromatic backgrounds to build a sense of further darkness and intrigue. 

A screen capture of Mary Hayes' art portfolio


Mary’s portraits especially give off the impression of old, dusty, potentially haunted portraits lining the halls of some old mansion. Many of the works, in particular those where Mary incorporates abstract elements into her figures, could easily be compared to the works of Francis Bacon or Lucian Freud.

A painting of a doll's head on an explosionBabyteeth, oil on canvas

Written by: Dallas Jeffs
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