Thursday, May 26, 2022

DPW Spotlight Interview: Marlene Lee

Each week we will spotlight a different DPW artist who will give away one of their best paintings. To enter to win Marlene's painting "Orange with Grapes" go to Daily Paintworks and click on the link at the top of the page announcing their interview.

From Marlene's DPW Gallery Page:

Since graduating from California State University, Sacramento in studio art in 2009, I began to pursue art seriously. I mainly paint in oils - landscapes and still life but my passion is portraits. I'm furthering my painting skills with workshops and classes from Terry Miura, a well known northern California painter, My drawing skills were strengthen through Jeff Watts Online Program and Sadie Valeri Online Atelier program.

Click here at my blog updated paintings and process and upcoming events. I do accept pet commissions either in oils or watercolor in my Etsy shop at PaintingsbyMarlene. (Shipping is free).

My other love is urbansketching. My sketches are posted on my Flickr page. Some of those sketches can be bought as prints at my Society6 store.

​Check out my book, Sketching Around Davis, on Blurb. It's a collection of my sketches done from 2013 through 2019 around Davis, California where I live.

Orange with Grapes 
(click to view)

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

What did you want to be growing up? 

I wanted to be a children’s book illustrator because that is what I knew at the time that artists do to earn a paycheck. Later I realized that there were other jobs like technical illustrator or industrial designer. I took drafting in high school and loved it. 

When did your artistic journey begin? 

It's hard to say when my journey began. Maybe when I was six, I tore a section of wallpaper in my parents’ rented home to see what kind of shapes I could create. The beginning of my abstract exploration. 

But I do remember in school, enjoying the challenge of drawing, copying things exactly. In high school I took all the art classes and learned to use other mediums beside pens and pencils. Through books I taught myself perspective by drawing cases of sodas in the storeroom of my family’s grocery store. 

In college, even though I majored in accounting, I took all the art classes I could. And even sold some pieces like a portrait of a cougar in a ballpoint pen to my accounting professor. I did some commercial work for billboard signs and ads. 

After college, even though I had a business degree and did some accounting, I eventually got a job as a graphic artist.

(click to view)

Did you have any long periods without creative expression? How did you get back on the horse? 

When I got married and had my three sons, I had to invest all my creative and emotional energy into raising them. I did some art stuff with them like papermaking and marbling. We also did some rubber stamp carving. I kept my hand in the arts by taking calligraphy workshops in San Francisco and freelancing calligraphy jobs. I also took watercolor classes at the local art center for many years. 

As my sons grew older, I went to a nearby university, California State Sacramento, and got a second bachelor but this time in studio art. By the time my sons finished public schools and had entered into college, I had my degree and became serious about being an artist. That was back in 2009. 

Which mediums and genres do you gravitate toward? Which ones don’t appeal? 

Drawing was my medium before the art degree. I love the pen and ink illustrations that I had seen in some Asian books that my parents kept. The use of thick and thin lines made by a brush fascinated me and still does. Currently it’s oils and watercolor. I love watercolor for its unpredictability; I feel I can be very expressive. Though I enjoyed working in oils, I still feel stiff; I’m seeking to be more expressive with my brushstrokes. I do love all the mediums….pastels, printmaking especially. I only have energy for just oils and watercolors. 

Pink Barn at Best Ranch
(click to view)

What was the process like of pinpointing your personal style or finding your voice? 

An assignment in college was to cut out any images of paintings that we were drawn to. I’ve noticed it was paintings that had expressive brushstrokes. Impressionistic. I found that the more I paint the more my personal style just comes out. Like learning to do cursive writing. As kids we all learn from the same handwriting model but each kid would unconsciously put their own stamp into their writing. 

Name an artist (or artists), well-known or not, who you admire. Why? 

John Singer Sargent for his expressive watercolors. Many of the contemporary artists depending on what my interests were at the time. Now it’s Bethann Moran-Handzlik for her on-site paintings of her garden. Her ability to paint the mundane, like a flower growing from a crack, is amazing. Other artists, landscape artists, are catching my eye for their minimal details and expressive brushstrokes. I tend to get too detailed and my aim is to paint the landscape impressionistically. Anne Blair Brown comes to mind. 

Trees in Midmorning at the Arboretum
(click to view)

If you could offer one piece of advice to your younger, creative self — what would that be? 

Don’t let the naysayers discourage you from pursuing your interest in art. Find ways to cultivate that interest. Whatever you pursue feeds into your creativity. 

It’s all about learning and not on just pure talent. 

Do you utilize any habits or tricks for winning the distraction and procrastination battle? 

Develop a routine. I run all errands, exercise…computer work all in the morning and paint in the afternoon. I want to totally focus on my painting completely. 

Also finding that working in a series of three to six paintings of similar subject matters, creates a momentum, getting into the flow. 

In moments of self-doubt or adversity, how do you push forward? 

Keep painting and drawing. 

Ginger Jar with Poppies
(click to view)

What are some of your long and short term goals for yourself or your art? 

Earlier when I started to paint in oils I would just paint still life, mainly fruits. My goal then was to get a handle on oil painting, getting to know the colors. I noticed that the colors of most fruits are similar to the colors of different skin tones.

Now I want to focus more on landscape paintings, especially plein aire. I want to experience different expressions with the brush, become more painterly…and avoid details that sometimes still life painting would demand. 

Last year I was accepted into an artist cooperative, The Artery, and it has pushed me to consider what to paint and to paint seriously and how to exhibit my works. My ultimate goal is to get into a gallery. 

What does success mean to you personally? 

Being an accomplished and recognized artist…being able to paint anything and everything. And to earn income from doing what I enjoyed best. 

What is one of your proudest moments in your creative life? 

Being selected in a juried show, especially one juried by a well known artist was my pride and joy. Another moment was a learning moment. Just recently while painting a commissioned dog portrait, I’ve learned an important lesson in painting, I do not have to copy a photograph. I had lightened up a shadow area and it was an eureka moment. :-) 

Speaking of pet portraits, when my clients would say how they were moved in tears when they saw the portrait of their pet. This is actually my proudest moment. I am happy a client or buyer is touched by the painting. Then I had fulfilled my purpose in painting.

(click to view)

Thanks, Marlene!

© 2022 Maddie Marine

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