“During the time I have been painting (more than 50 years) my interest in the act of painting has never waned,” says acrylic artist Mark Mehaffey in his artist’s statement. “However, the content of my work and my technical abilities are constantly evolving. This state of change is something that all artists embrace. It is through change that growth occurs. To be timid, safe, complacent or overly satisfied does not push the boundaries of creativity.” (Click here to Tweet this quote!)
I was fortunate enough to meet Mark when he was on location filming some new video workshops for ArtistsNetwork.tv, and we immediately hit it off. But not until later did I read his artist’s statement, where he expresses these views of art and experimentation, which are kindred in nature to my own (if you know me, you know that I’m all about pushing boundaries–not in an aggressive way, of course, but in a way that helps us all grow as individuals and artistically).
In an exclusive interview with ArtistsNetwork.tv online education manager Jennifer Lepore, Mark shared more of his philosophy on art, specifically, the importance of design and his co-existing worlds of abstract and realist art:
“The elements and principles of design don’t change just because we’re dealing with an abstraction of something that is real, or a non-objective work where the elements of design become the subject or a representational landscape; the artist is still balancing the same elements,” he said. “Some artists stick with one subject and not the other; I have a tendency to jump all around and I can do that because really it doesn’t change much in my own mind–I’m still engaged in a balancing act, using the principles of design and my tools, or the elements of design.
“When I do representational work it’s my representation of reality: I see the world, I internalize it, then I share it in terms of my paintings–and the painting that I create is the sum total of all the paintings I’ve done before, in my life to that point. My non-objective, or totally abstract, work is all internal. So where the first is all planned out (using a value plan, a compositional sketch, and sometimes even reference photos), I start my non-objective work intuitively; I get paint on the canvas or the paper and then I react to that. As soon as I make a change, I make an evaluation because that change alters the total, and then I make the next addition or subtraction based on the sum total and I keep going back and forth until I either totally mess it up or declare it done. It’s just a different way of working. Some artists do one or the other; I do both styles, and I think that both are legitimate. It’s not a hard transition for me because it’s the same design elements that I’m manipulating and the same design principles that guide those decisions.”
If you want to learn more about Mehaffey’s techniques, take advantage of this exclusive kit: the Watercolor Painting on YUPO® with Mark Mehaffey Premium Palette. And just for fun, you can click here to see a behind-the-scenes photo of Mark with some of the ArtistsNetwork team.