Artist of the Month: Marc Schimsky

Red Dress (oil, 48×36) by Marc Schimsky was a Portrait finalist in the 24th Annual Art Competition. Schimsky is our July 2008 Artist of the Month.

Residence: Commack, New York


His art career: I’ve been painting and drawing since high school. I earned a bachelor’s degree in art education from the State University of New York, Buffalo in 1971. My junior year, I traveled to Italy to study Italian language, history and culture at the University of Siena, and while I was there, I took classes in fresco painting and sculpture at the Duccio di Buoninsegna State Institute of Art. In 1976, I completed my MFA in printmaking and painting at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. In 2005 I retired from a very rewarding, 35-year career as a high school art teacher and now devote myself full-time to my career as a professional artist.

Media and genres: I’ve been a printmaker since the mid-’70s, but I’ve turned to painting in oil and acrylics in the last couple of years. My paintings are generally figurative, dealing mainly with matters of place and fleeting time.

Inspiration for this painting: In the hope of revealing something mysterious about my subjects, I frequently use vibrant color, texture and motion in my work. The painting Red Dress was inspired by a series of photos I took of a young lady trying on a second-hand dress at a country store in Montrose, Pennsylvania. I believe the dress was made in the late ’40s or early ’50s, but it fit her perfectly. To give the work a sense of movement and rhythm that I hoped would capture her delight over the dress, I blurred the young lady’s face and hands.

His process: If it’s possible, I prefer to work directly from observation. However, more often than not, I resort to using my own photographs as the basis for most of my paintings. I thoroughly enjoy the sensuality of paint, particularly oils, so I tend to use thick, expressive brush strokes and a color palette reminiscent of the Fauvists. I often work in triadic color schemes.

My work habits are somewhat unorthodox. I generally work on two or more canvasses simultaneously. Depending on the size of the canvas, I spend about the equivalent of a week to two weeks (sometimes more) on each painting.

I spent about a week on Red Dress. I thought the floral pattern on the dress was going to drive me insane. I resorted to using a projector so I could trace the pattern onto the canvas. However, the color choices are my own. When I painted in the gorgeous azure blue of the walls behind the figure, the colors in the face and hair began to sing. The effect of juxtaposing those heightened complementary colors on the canvas was exciting.

Why he creates art: Our lives are fleeting. People come and go. Times passes quickly. Events occur in a heartbeat. I am fascinated by the mysteries of history and the complexities of human nature. Creating art is about documenting my personal experience in the world and preserving a visual memory of that experience in the hope that it will draw attention to issues involving the ephemeral quality of life.

Edited by Grace Dobush, associate editor of The Artist’s Magazine.

Artists of the Month are chosen from our Annual Competition entrants. To learn more, visit our competition page.

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