Artist Mary Hamilton celebrates her 60th Hallmark anniversary

Craig Lueck is a distinguished Hallmark artist in his own right, but today, he’s celebrating one of his famous co-workers. Craig introduces us to the peerless Mary Hamilton, who has graced Hallmark with her artistic presence for six decades. 

Mary Hamilton Hallmark Artist Celebrates 60 years | thinkmakeshareblog.comPhoto by Geoff Greenleaf

For Hallmark Master Artist Mary Hamilton, art making is her life. This month we are celebrating Mary’s 60 years as an artist at Hallmark. This is a remarkable accomplishment, but Mary’s love of art began much earlier, at age 6.

“My mother used to tell me that I was always running around the house with crayons, coloring on things,” Mary says. “Drawing is something I’ve always loved.”

As a teenager, a scholarship took her to the Kansas City Art Institute. At age 19, Hallmark was quick to see her talent for telling charming visual stories and bringing beauty to everyday objects. So they gave her a job.

Mary Hamilton Hallmark Artist Celebrates 60 years |

In the years that followed, consumers have loved her many cute characters and flowers, but none more than “Mary’s Bears.” She began receiving fan letters about these whimsical little teddy bears almost as soon as they went on the market over 20 years ago. As an artist who cares deeply for the people who buy her products, her fan letters have given her a great deal of insight and inspiration.

Mary is a quiet, serious artist and is seen as the “grand master” of a style we call “cutes.”

“They’re sweet little things,” Mary says.  “They convey lots of love and emotions, and I never get tired of painting them.  I just love it.”

Perhaps it’s this ability to visually capture the language of the heart that makes Mary’s appeal so universal. Her artwork has appeared on thousands of products that span the globe and are printed in many languages.

Many of her illustrations have a sketchbook look, appearing almost unfinished as if Mary had just begun to create them. Other styles look wet, as though the watercolors are still drying. Regardless of her approach, Mary is known as one of the few watercolorists who can judge wisely when to stop working on a painting, before it gets overworked.

Mary never actually planned her many illustration styles. “They just were discovered as I painted”, she says. She has mentored many others to do the same.

In addition to her own little bears, Mary collects Hummel figurines, decorative teapots and enjoys her flower garden. Her primary inspirational artists are Tasha Tudor, Cicely Mary Barker and Bessie Pease Gutmann

Mary has no intention to ever retire from making art, but will forever keep her hands in the paints as well as the crayons.

As Jeannette Lee, a former creative leader from Hallmark, has said, “Mary can do it all. She can draw. She can paint. She can use color in very lovely ways. When an artist loves what she is doing as much as Mary does, it shows.”




Leave a Comment

  1. 6.30.15 | Reply
    Jacquelyn wrote:

    It’s amazing to think just how many artists she’s influenced and how many smiles she’s created with her work.What a beautiful tribute to such an inspiring anniversary!

  2. 6.30.15 | Reply
    LouAnn Mallon wrote:

    Ohhhh, the creator of our beloved Mary’s Angels!!! My sister, Mary, would buy one for each of us, (sisters) each year . . . But she is gone now . . . And no more Mary’s Angels . . .

  3. 7.1.15 | Reply

    Congratulations on 60 years, Mary! You are such a sweet and caring person and I miss seeing you at Hallmark. I wish you many, many more years of happy artistry!

  4. 7.15.15 | Reply
    Terri Sawyer wrote:

    Congratulations on 60 years of passion. You’ve never worked a day in your life because you found your passion and got paid for it! And what a blessing that is. Thank you so much for the beauty, joy, and love you’ve shared for 60 years. May you share for many more decades!!!

  5. 7.18.15 | Reply
    Jim Jandt wrote:

    The journey of 60 years begins, as do all others , with a single step. Mary stepped into her creativity and has yet to come out. Congratulations! Inspiring news indeed.

  6. 9.7.15 | Reply
    Leonora Flynn wrote:

    I love all of Mary’s designs. Have saved some of the cards I bought throughout these years because they are all so cute & speak love & joy. Glad to hear you are continuing with your love of art. That is such a God given gift. I am looking forward to more of your artwork. Hope there will be Chistmas cards with your designs this year. Are there art shows or museums in California where your work will be displayed? Thank you for sharing your art with everyone. God bless you, your family, & everyone at hallmark.

    P.S. ❤️ Mary’s Angels

  7. 6.18.16 | Reply
    Karen Blackburn wrote:

    I was overjoyed to find a Mary calendar at Hallmark for 2016. I hope there will be another one for 2017. You are my favorite artist. Your sweet pictures makes me smile. God bless you, Karen

  8. 8.31.16 | Reply
    Linda Schultz wrote:

    Miss seeing her friends on more cards ! My favorite !
    Years of love now working part time at Brandy’s Halmark in Janesville Wi. ❤️

  9. 9.9.16 | Reply
    Debbie Quinn wrote:

    Dear Mary,
    I have loved your card artwork all my life. (I am turning 60 years old this month) As a child I remember receiving cards with your beautiful children, cherubs and critters. I have enjoyed buying your beautiful cards for my wonderful grandmother, mother and family. Thank you for being part of my life. I feel your heart through your artwork.
    Last year I had the privilege of buying a Mary Hamilton calendar and get to see your adorable work every day!
    God Bless You Mary ♥ Thank you for the joy that you have brought into the world through your beautiful artwork!

  10. 12.6.16 | Reply
    paul ortega wrote:

    hello – congratulations and thanks for sharing your talent and love of art, you are truly blessed.
    my mother was raised on Bemis st. in Glendale California and lived there until the 1950’s, our family; dad, mom and my sister, would come often to visit our family there. their next door neighbors were two wonderful women, gina and carol, who used to entertain the neighborhood children by sharing their love of art. they would supply paper, colored pencil, paints and other supplies and let us create to our hearts content.
    they would also decorate their beautiful yard, every Christmas, which was designed and maintained meticulously, in a Japanese garden motif. but the most memorable touch, was that they would hang Christmas stockings Christmas eve, filled with candy and toys for the neighborhood children. when Christmas morning arrived, all the children would run to gina and carols home to receive their gift, and spend the morning playing and sharing in a very memorable and true Christmas spirit.
    I lost contact with gina and carol over the years, and have always wondered what happened to those two special ladies? my mother had told me once that they were greeting card artists, and did work for hallmark.
    I was wondering if your records show any indication of whether or not this is true?
    in any case it was nice sharing the story, and thinking of gina and carol, both, still bring a smile to my face.
    merry Christmas.

  11. 12.13.16 | Reply
    Toni wrote:

    I have loved your work for decades! Your art is so cute and delicate, and shows the innocence and ingenuity of youth. Is there a compilation or collection of your designs anywhere?

  12. 10.25.17 | Reply
    Katie Wong wrote:

    I didn’t know it at the time, was so drawn to your work, I starting collecting all I could find. Now many many years later I adore all my little scraps of paper, cards plates. I marvel at your talent and thank you for so much joy in my life.
    I am a grateful admirer, Katie

  13. 10.30.17 | Reply
    Sheryl Pitts wrote:

    I have enjoyed Mary’s creations so much! So glad that she loved what she did, because I have loved her art. I was made aware last week that she died this past January. Her life blessed so many, mine being one. She is now seeing sights even more beautiful than her own watercolors.
    Is there a museum displaying just her art?

  14. 12.4.18 | Reply

    MY wife has 27 Christmas tree Angel ornaments but lacks some from the first ones, Is there a way to purchase those/

    • 12.4.18 | Reply
      Trish B. wrote:

      Hi, Randall! Sounds like your wife has a beautiful tree. Hallmark doesn’t sell our older ornaments, but you might find them on a site like Ebay! -Trish

  15. 3.23.19 | Reply
    Michael F Anderson wrote:

    Hey Mary,
    Remember me? I was on the Creative Writing team at Hallmark from 1966 to 1977. For the last 4 years of that time I managed the Writers in the Editorial Department. I remember loving to write for your great little characters. Remember our “Charmer” project getaways where writers and designers worked together off-site? We certainly developed good relationships — and I think we even managed a few good promotion ideas 🙂
    You were wonderful to work with. Your designs were so fun to write for — and it looks like they still are!
    Mike Anderson

    • 3.25.19 | Reply
      Trish B. wrote:

      Hi, Michael! It’s so sweet of you to be in touch. I’m sorry to tell you Mary passed away last January. Here’s a tribute we published on her passing. As you remember, she was very much loved.
      With sympathy,

  16. 1.17.20 | Reply
    Carol wrote:

    Mary always make my heart sing, Have always loved her art, since I first saw it as a teen. Through the years she has given me such pleasure, especially at Christmas as I decorate our tree. Thank you for sharing your special gift with the world. Always, Carol Graber