MERRIMAC — More than 30 Merrimac residents could soon be the recipients of original oil portraits of themselves or family members to created by local artist Mary Pyche.

Pyche is offering the first 30 “Merrimacians” who come forward the opportunity to have their portraits painted. The result will be what she calls a collection of “sketches” done in oils and suitable for framing. She hopes to hang a group show of her paintings at the Merrimac Library later in the fall.

Pyche, an accomplished and award winning artist versed in oil, acrylics and photography, has a special interest in portraiture. She also wants to help others get excited about this once popular but less practiced art form. Pyche is notifying the public of this opportunity for open enrollment and seeking locations for the sittings.

Pyche is calling her project “People Painting People: The Merrimacians” and she plans to launch on Aug. 1 and end on Oct. 31.

“I’m sure there are a lot of people who might like to have a portrait. That is where my project sprang from,” she said.

Each sitting will last between one and two hours.

“I try to tell people it is like waiting for a bus. They just have to sit there. I will paint Merrimac people any day, any time,” Pyche said.

She is also opening the sittings to other area artists eager to have live subjects to paint.

“It is hard to have the opportunity to paint a live model. I want to give a lot of people the opportunity to come along and paint from life,” she said.

Each subject will keep their sketch.

“The one that I do I am perfectly willing to give, it will be practice for me,” she added.

Pyche has been offered space for sittings at the Council on Aging building on Main Street.

“Laura (Mailman, COA director) was very keen on the idea and she is going to give us space at the senior center and she is also going to be a sitter,” Pyche said.

Pyche was inspired to do this project by the artistic work of Rose Frantzen, a Maquoketa, Iowa native who devoted a year to the portraiture of more than 100 Iowans willing to sit for four or five hours.

Her work was later displayed at the Smithsonian’s National Portraiture Gallery and other locations.

In the meantime, Pyche is looking for additional volunteers, space and interested participating artists. To participate call 978-273-3496, email her at or visit the People Painting People (Merrimac) Facebook page.

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