Thursday, February 2, 2017

DPW Spotlight Interview: Charlene Marsh

Each week we will spotlight a different DPW artist who will give away one of their best paintings.

To enter to win Charlene's painting, "Autumn Reflection" go to Daily Paintworks and click on the link at the top of the page announcing their interview.

From Charlene's DPW Gallery:

My name is Charlene Marsh and I am an oil painter creating artworks that make the heart sing and the soul soar! I love to backpack the painting supplies deep into the forest and other wild places to paint on location in all four seasons. You cannot drive to the places where I paint. I create artwork that raises the chi of our living spaces and brings joy into our lives. The artwork I create connects us with beautiful, wild, and not-so-wild spaces in nature and helps us reconnect with our inner soul. Nature - and the paintings - help us to think, meditate, pray, and dream. (click to read more)

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

My sister got a paint-by-number kit when we were kids and I started painting with the leftover paint.  I used the cardboard from my dad’s shirts that came from the laundry owned by my grandfather to paint on.  We used to make board games and would carve little race cars from plaster cast in clay molds and then paint them with paint from the local hobby shop.  I also wrote stories about giants and fairies and would illustrate them.  So I have been painting and creating since I was a kid.

Did you have any stops and starts in your painting career?

My first degree from Indiana University, Bloomington, was in English and my second degree was in Fine Art.  I have worked as a full time, professional artist ever since graduating.  I love making art, writing, and reading so I have crafted a career where I can incorporate all my interests.

Autumn Reflection
(click to view)

Enter to win by clicking on the link at the top of the DPW home page announcing Charlene's interview.

What mediums and genres have you experimented with?

For twenty-five years, I worked full time creating hand dyed wool, tufted onto cotton, tapestries while painting part time.  The tapestries were figurative and/or narrative and/or metaphysical themes incorporating sacred geometric, with shifting perspectives and transparencies.  The tapestries were very labor intensive and could take months to complete one.  After completing one, I would take a break and work on painting which was the total opposite of working in fiber.  Painting was fast, fluid, messy, and instant gratification.

At the same time, I attended a Life Drawing Co-op every Wednesday night for ten years and hosted my own Life Drawing Co-ops working with figure models under natural light out here on my farm.  I could paint a full figure in an hour with bold, loose brush strokes.  But I really did not try to exhibit, market, or sell my paintings at that time.   I primarily did still life and figure paintings until around 2003 when I started painting the forest that surrounds my farm.  In 2005, I developed a repetitive motion problem with my wrists and had to give up the fiber work.  I went full time into painting and was very surprised to find success right away.  Luckily, my skills were at a level I was able to shift seamlessly.

Magic Lilies and Hollyhocks
(click to view)

Which ones have "stuck" and which ones have fallen away?

When I attended Indiana University, I took all kinds of classes working in all kinds of mediums and techniques including clay, metal, printed and dyed fiber, constructed fiber, graphic design, sculpture, drawing, painting and even clothing construction techniques in the, then, “home economics” department.  I kept taking studio classes until I felt I had found my “voice” after learning the fiber tufting techniques and taking several oil painting classes which both clicked with me.  I even got an A+ from the professor in my first painting class which caught me by total surprise.  I ended up working full time in fiber for twenty five years and then oil painting full time since 2005.

Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?

I am pretty happy painting with oils.  There is always something new to learn.  Light, color, values, and subject matter provide endless material for exploration.

Fall Colors Along the Creek
(click to view)

Who or what inspires you most?

I am inspired by nature and the power of God.  The paintings feel like shadows compared to the power of God but if I can even capture a flicker of that power, I am happy.  I am merely the vessel, the conduit, to manifest the spirit of God in our world.

What does procrastination look like for you?

Reading.  I love to read about anything and everything.  Ficton, non-fiction, art, marketing, politics, health and nutrition, mysteries, romance, suspense and intrigue, inspiration/motivation, history, archeology,  classics, biographies, metaphysics, science, gardening.  I could go on and on.  I once did a piece for the local library called “Portal to the World” because I think books are the doorway to knowledge and deeper understanding.

Coneflowers and Poppies
(click to view)

What techniques work to ensure that you make time for your art?

Setting up an events and show schedule always motivates me to create new work for the upcoming events which can include online events, juried art fairs, gallery shows, open houses, demonstrations, etc.  I also maintain an active blog and an e-newsletter so I feel accountable to my collectors and followers to keep producing new work.  Creating art is a lifetime habit.

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

The paintings evolve over time.  I will paint in a particular genre for awhile and then try something else that may be related but goes a step in another direction.  For example, last year I got an “Arts in the Park” project grant to create four plein air paintings in the local state park.  The original idea was to paint in the forest but when I saw the Olympic sized pool packed with swimmers on Memorial Day, I wanted to paint that.  I ended up doing a whole series of pool paintings.  For 2017, I have received another “Arts in the Park” project grant to paint the beaches at two different state properties to continue the theme of painting swimmers in action.  Until 2016, I had not done any figure painting in quite some time so it is fun to go back to that and refresh those skills but in a new way.

Deep Snow on a Sunny Day
(click to view)

How do you keep art "fresh?" What techniques have helped you avoid burnout and keep your work vibrant and engaging?

I have a totally different medium on the side I work in that I don’t show or offer for sale.  Right now, I make glass sculptures for my gardens that are just for fun.  They are totally different from making paintings.

What do you feel you are learning about right now as an artist?

Right now, I am working on taking plein air pieces and reworking them as larger paintings.  I may use two to ten plein air paintings as inspiration for a larger piece, taking the best elements from each one to create a truly spectacular, larger painting.

What makes you happiest about your art?

When a painting captures a feeling that makes the heart sing, I feel the most satisfied.

Thanks, Charlene!

© 2017 Sophie Marine

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