Mara Manning - March 2018
Telluride HQ Gallery
"My work is about a sense of place, a vague memory of being there. These landscapes and cityscapes are not windows like a traditional landscape format. Rather, I am instead exploring the space as we pass through it. Whether driving by in a car or moving in other forms of transportation we experience our environment in momentary glimpses. Parts of these remain in our subconscious as memories and images. They are flattened and stacked. In my paintings I find myself gravitating to a simple house shape as my subject matter. Houses, farm buildings and warehouses have always sparked my storytelling imagination. I see personalities, expressions, and faces in buildings that I take photos of and record in sketchbooks. By layering the buildings or using the shape individually I am able to conjure a feeling of place for me and the viewer. We may not see the same place in the piece but it brings about an immediate reaction, often a “naming” of where the scene is located.
I am painting with wax media because it allows me to explore a richness in layers, color and textures using a variety of tools and handmade templates. I have almost left my brushes behind, gravitating toward palette knives and other devices that let me layer, scrape and draw on the surface. I like to excavate into the painting revealing parts of previous layers. The wax medium allows me explore this type of versatility on the birch panels. My process explores the painting surface as I expose or mask particular layers and colors. I look to the history of art to inform my color schemes, specifically the Dutch Baroque period. I love the richness and saturation found in works from that era. As I settle on a color scheme for the pieces I allow composition and mood to drive the painting. I work using photos as inspiration. The loose grid I begin with provides a landscape in which I can start to nestle, isolate or crowd together the buildings, roads and bridges. Windows, lines, textural marks are added near the end of the process. Each layer of cold wax and oil is fused using a low temp heat gun. Fine lines are made with oil pastel. In the final stages of the pieces I allow them to cure and then burnish the wax to create a soft luster on the surface where it is the thickest."
Mara is a UW Milwaukee graduate with a BFA in Painting & Drawing. She earned her teaching certificate as an Art Educator from UW-Green Bay and received a Master of Arts in Education from Lesley University. Some of her early influences as an artist included instruction and vision from Leslie Vansen, Adolph Rosenblatt, Tom Uttecht, Bill Williams, and Laurence Rathsack (Instructors at UW-Milwaukee).
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