From the time that she was a young girl, Marie Atkinson Hull had a love for the arts. However, her first love was not painting, but music. Born and raised in Mississippi, her parents were cultured and they exposed their daughter to the fine arts in Jackson and nearby New Orleans. At the age of four, she saw a piano performance that inspired her for the rest of her life. She studied music at Belhaven College, in Mississippi, and graduated in 1909.
Shortly thereafter, Hull explored her interest in the visual arts by enrolling in private art classes taught by Aileen Phillips, who had studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Phillips encouraged Hull to continue her training at the Academy which she did in 1912. She was particularly influenced by two of her teachers, Impressionist painters Daniel Garber and Hugh Breckenridge.
Returning home to Mississippi, Hull taught art at a girls’ college and worked as a commercial artist until she married in 1917. Her husband was an architect from Jackson who supported and encouraged his wife’s passion for art. Shortly after the couple was married, Hull traveled to Colorado Springs to attend a workshop at the art center there. She traveled to New York in 1922 to join the Art Students League and work with Frank Vincent Dumond and Robert Vonnoh. Three years later, she and her husband embarked on a cross country road trip across the American Southwest, West Coast, and Northwest, during which time she painted landscapes. The couple then lived in Florida for a year and for a brief time in North Carolina before returning home to Mississippi. Hull’s love of travel is reflected in the many exotic locations and wildlife that she chose to paint. She enjoyed experimenting with color and abstraction, and favored landscapes, still lifes and portraiture as her subjects. Above all, Hull valued quality and creativity in art, and she studied throughout her life to make her own art the best that it could possibly be.
In 1929, Hull won second place in the Texas Wildflower Competitive Exhibition with a painting of yucca blossoms. Hull used her prize money to travel to Europe with a large group of American artists. Upon her return, she exhibited her works in New York, San Francisco, and at the Salon in Paris. During the 1930s her portrait commissions dwindled due to the nationwide economic depression. Hull chose to use this time to improve her skills as an artist. She hired local out-of-work farmers and field hands to pose for her. These paintings of sharecroppers and tenant farmers were among her most prized accomplishments.
In 1975, the governor of Mississippi declared October 22 “Marie Hull Day” to commemorate the impact she had on the arts in the state. Hull died in Jackson shortly after her ninetieth birthday in 1980.