FAIR LAWN, N.J. — Fair Lawn Dentist Mary Mancuso-Englander has become a midlife Monet.
Three years ago, at age 51, she started a second career as an Impressionist-style painter. She studied under noted artist John P. Osborne at the Ridgewood Art Institute.
Osborne had been her art teacher at Indian Hills High School in Oakland. She’d followed his work over the years. In her first class she learned how to mix paints and created a still life of a white vase.
“I’d found a moment of peace and focus that allowed it to happen,” she said.
She was hooked.
Today, Mancuso-Englander’s body of work totals some 300 paintings. Her patients enjoy a different exhibit every time they come for an appointment. She’s also had two shows at local libraries.
To Mancuso-Englander, who lives in North Haledon, painting is a natural art for a dentist to pursue.
“For so many years as a dentist I have stared at lines and angles and curves and I have tried to recreate nature with the materials I use,” she said. “I can paint a realistic representation because I’ve trained my eye and my hand to relate those lines and shapes and colors.”
Dentistry is designing in biological form, she said. Painting is a matter of working with a different medium — paint and canvas.
“I think some of my best artwork is walking around New Jersey, not hanging around New Jersey,” she quipped.
These days she paints one or two new works a month, paying attention to subject matter, color scheme, and how a project makes her feel. She likes to feel good and peaceful when painting.
“I understand that in the art world you’re not considered an expert until you’ve spent 20 to 30 years crafting your skill,” she said. “I am a novice and I know it. So if anyone critiques my work, I would prefer they do it knowing of my novice stature.”
Her work will appear in the Valley Hospital Art Gallery in Ridgewood in October and November and at the Maurice M. Pine Free Public Library in Fair Lawn next year.