Maria Masci - Featured Artist for September 2009

Which artistic media do you prefer to work in and why?

I love working with acrylic paint primarily because its fast-drying qualities lend themselves to quick expression and the intuitive spontaneity of abstract art.

With which past or contemporary artists or artworks do you, as an artist, feel a connection? What is it that draws you to them?

I’m drawn to the New York Abstract Expressionists, especially Mark Rothko. I connect with the ideas of painting as a personal authentic expression of the individual, of painting what you feel, valuing spontaneous improvisation, and focusing on the process.

What is it that draws you?

There is something elegant and powerful in the simplicity of Rothko’s works. There is a vibrancy and aliveness that moves me. The abstract design and colour appeals directly to my emotions, similar to the effect of music.

Which particular processes or techniques of art-making interest you now?

I’m drawn to Process and Intuitive Painting, collage making, and photography. I love to experiment with the interplay of colour, texture, and new materials.

What in your artistic training do you value most in your work at this time?

My instructors have all stressed the importance of suspending judgement and silencing the inner critic.

How much of a role do accident and control play in your work?

I think the word ‘accident’ is a misnomer. It comes down to your approach – whether you prefer to plan and prepare, or go for a more spontaneous experience. I’ve discovered that breaking free of control allows the painting to lead you in new directions. Edgar Degas said it best: “"Only when he no longer knows what he is doing does the painter do good things." It involves a giant leap of faith into the unknown. It’s a process of learning to trust the intelligence of the body over the mind. D.H. Lawrence believed in the “blood & the flesh” as being wiser than the intellect. He said “We can all go wrong in the minds but what our hearts say is often the truth.”

Can you share 3 things you’ve learned as an artist through your own art?

Painting has taught me to be present in the moment, totally immersed in the visceral experience. Making art becomes a living, dynamic action bringing images to life in a vibrant and fluid manner. I’ve learned to make friends with the unknown and trust my intuition. Some of my best work occurs when I’m feeling frustrated and about to give up. In letting go, the mind seems to take a break, letting the unconscious have a chance to express its unique perspective. And lastly I’m learning, one brush stroke at a time – to have fun and not take myself too seriously. It’s a work in progress.

When you need inspiration, how to do get it?

I’m fortunate to share a studio with a supportive and stimulating group of artists, who inspire and help me work through my creative blocks.

When you need to learn more as an artist, how do you do it? 

I love to visit galleries and other art shows, search on-line resources, take courses, and network with other artists. Being part of AIOM’s community of diverse, talented artists has been a big plus.

What is it about this artwork (self-selected work shown) that led you to choose it for this feature?

Having mentioned there are two ways to approach painting, one involving planning and the other being spontaneous; this mixed media piece provided an opportunity to combine the two methods. The background was a spontaneous burst of vibrant colours, which was followed up with a careful layering of complementary images. Perhaps it speaks to the integration of the head and the heart.

Thank you!