Self Portrait

Marcia you are a painter and do drawings correct? Are those your two favorite mediums?
I do tend to gravitate toward drawing and painting more but, I’d say I’m more of a mixed media artist who likes to use whatever material I feel will communicate well at the time. Labelling what I am seems so foreign to me and would make me feel far too stifled as an artist which would no doubt have a horrible effect on the work.


I noticed you have some installation work on your site. Do you also do installations?
I would do more installations if the time and place were right. For the time being, I’m in a state of bliss working within the four walls of my studio. I need that kind of intimacy with my work right now and I can’t do that physically or psychologically if I were to work in an installation type of framework or environment.


When did you begin making art?
I’d have to say that I really began about 28 yrs ago (Yikes! That’s a scary number) in grade 6. I used to argue daily with my grade 6 teacher, especially about what he and I individually thought I should be doing during the hour of spare time. I worked very hard to show him that I was correct in stating that I should be drawing and not practicing math. I was and still am very head strong as those who know me would happily and perhaps all too eagerly corroborate.


When did you know you would like to pursue a career as an artist?
I knew I wanted to pursue an artist career when I began working during my undergraduate degree with a very talented Canadian artist and professor, Adele Duck who also happens to be an alumni of FSU. I wasn’t convinced until then that I had enough tenacity nor that I had the perfect dichotomy of determination and insecurity to push through and make it work. I owe a lot especially to my family and Adele Duck as well for reminding me of the fire I have in my belly and that I need to stay on the path that I have chosen.


Can you describe your current creative process? How does a piece evolve?
This is a difficult question to answer because it so often changes. Since I’m working on paintings at the moment, I guess I’ll talk about that. I begin with what size feels right and usually it’s medium to large so that I have enough space to “breathe” while creating the work and viewers get enough space to “breathe” when viewing the work . I stretch the paper on a huge piece of plywood that stands against the studio wall (10ft tall by 6.5ft wide), prime the paper, tape off an appropriate border around the paper and away I go. I usually begin with a vague concept of composition and then I work with visual elements and material from there. I’m constantly building and scraping and building and scraping layers until I get to somewhere where I feel something worth-while is happening. I then refine everything once I’ve hit that “worth-while” place. Sometimes it takes only a day or two and sometimes it takes weeks. I like to work fast and I tend to be an impatient person which can get me into trouble with a desired outcome and yet caters to who I am.

I now intentionally work with oil paint because the slower drying process forces me to slow down as well as being such a rich silky medium. Working slower has its advantages and disadvantages. Sometimes the spontaneous reaction or immediate gratification to space and material isn’t as dramatic as I like when I work slower but it teaches me plenty about myself and I tend to get to that “worth-while” place more often because I’ve taken the time to evaluate and re-evaluate what’s happening.


Do you work on many pieces at once or do one piece at a time?
I have never worked on more than three at the same time. Especially now that I’m working in oil and I have slowed myself down, I usually only work on one piece unless I’m doing a diptych or a triptych. If I did more than that it would begin to look like I would be feeling – disjointed.


In your work you often times use collage. Where do you get the collage materials? How do you choose to integrate them with the compositions?
The collaged materials that I use are a combination of collected items from things I’ve found and are mostly items that are attached to a memory of an experience or a place. I try to use the collaged pieces as if they are an innate part of the painting. Yet, at the same time I am conscience of using the collaged pieces as a necessary change in the work’s visual elements. I view it as kind of a necessary shift in gears.

Do you have overall themes for your shows before you start making work for a show or does the theme work itself into the show afterwards? No I never look at a show as having an overall theme, but I do make sure the show is as succinct as possible and to exhibit the work with a visual flow from one work to the next. Usually my shows inherently reveal an evolution of process which makes them coherent on their own.


What do the shapes that you draw illustrate?

The shapes illustrate so many things. They could represent a void or an absence, a representation of an object, an advancing or receding area, a symbol, a metaphor for perhaps an event, place, object, or even a feeling. These are the first of many things that come to mind.

How did your work become non-objective and more abstract?

I have always been attracted to the process of taking one thing and pushing it as far as it can be pushed. Abstraction (although I personally consider my work to be representational if we were to take the dictionary definition of the word representational) does that for me. Working in a realistic or a naturalistic way to be more art historically correct, would bore me to tears. I need something past trying to paint the thing I see physically before me.

Who are some artists that have greatly influenced your work?
Without bailing-out on this question, there are so many artists that I admire for different reasons, including reasons that have nothing to do with their artwork, that it’s difficult for me to answer this question. But here goes … Betty Goodwin, Ann Hamilton, Janine Antoni, Kara Walker, Richard Diebenkorn, Antoni Tapies, Iain Baxter, Juan Muñoz and many more.

How do you arrive at your names for your work?
Titles for me are as important as the work itself. I always feel cheated as a viewer when I read “untitled”. My titles are used in many ways. Some of the titles are used as a parody or a metaphor for a visual element, event, feeling or thought. I like to give the viewer a signpost into an idea or important element of the work without directing their own personal experience and telling the viewer what to think. I use titles similar to how words are collaged in poems and similar to how I use collaged pieces in the work. They are an integral part of the work and yet give a slight shift in gears to the outcome. Most importantly for me it’s a must to apply humor whenever possible.

I noticed that you are currently working on paper. How have oils on paper been received? How do you present these works? How do you store them when not showing them? I prepare the surfaces very well before I do anything and this does a few things. It helps to preserve the work, gives the materials a strong foundation especially since I can be very rough when constantly applying and scraping layers. It also prepares the work for being framed and won’t buckle in the frame over time.

Was there a reason you chose to work on paper and not canvas?
I adore the sensuality of paper. I sometimes work on canvas but not often. I find canvas too rigid for me once the canvas has been primed.

You currently live and work in Brantford, Ontario correct? How is the Ontario art community? For the most part I have found the Ontario art community very supportive, lively and dedicated. I’m always meeting people who are genuinely interested in sharing the experience of art. It’s a vital and exciting exchange.

I just finished watching Sicko and was amazed by the Canadian health care system as it was portrayed in that movie.
How is the health care in Canada? As an artist health care is a big issue as a lot of us in the states have a hard time finding it or just don’t have it. Is it true that everyone can get treatment?

Like any system, Canada’s healthcare system has its own problems. We have ridiculously long waiting lists for essential treatments and therapies and Canadians do have to pay for any treatment considered a luxury, some of which are ludicrous to be considered a luxury. But yes, everyone can get treatment and I wouldn’t want to see that changed.

I found your work on I noticed you have a certificate in piano technology from Florida State University where I went to school myself. Can you describe that experience? Were you involved in the Tallahassee art community? Can you describe it if you were? I was only in Florida for about a year and so I didn’t get to know the artist community for an extended period of time. However, the people who I did meet were amazing. I found the visiting artist program remarkable and I met many phenomenal artists through this program as well.

How would an American artist move to Canada if they were interested? How hard would it be to get citizenship if they were interested in pursuing that?
Oooops, sorry I can’t answer this one. I don’t really know.

What shows and such do you have planned for this year?

I have two solo exhibitions coming up both in Brantford, Ontario, Canada. One is this year at the Brant Museum and Archives and the other is next year at the Brantford art gallery called Glenhyrst Art Gallery of Brant. Oh and yes the pressure is on (sigh).

Do you have any advice for younger artists starting out? (Don’t worry, I’m getting tired of asking this question.)
Although I don’t like giving advice because it never sounds like anything more than preaching, here goes. Love what you do. Be proud of what you do and always be graceful (something I had to learn the hard way) when taking advice whether you agree with the advice or not. The last one will help you survive any rigorous art programs, critiques or questions. Just be true to yourself and have an open mind and the rest will take care of itself.


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