For years, I had known Marcia Holmes as a representational painter but in the last couple of years, I’ve seen her blossom into a full-blown abstract artist! I featured one of her newer pieces in my March 2017 round-up and have followed her career ever since.
I was curious to know about her path from realist to abstract expressionist so I asked her to write a blog and I’m delighted to tell you, she agreed!
To show you where she came from and where she is now, compare the two pastel paintings below. This will give you a taste of the journey she’s been on!
Before I hand you over to Marcia, here’s a brief bio:
Marcia Holmes Bio
Originally from Laurel, Mississippi, abstract expressionist Marcia Holmes lives in Mandeville, Louisiana. Formerly a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA), she has attained Master Signature Status with the Pastel Society of America (PSA). Holmes, also an IAPS Master Circle pastel artist, has participated in juried exhibits around the globe including The Butler Institute of American Art (Youngstown, Ohio) and the Festival International du Pastel (Limoges, France). She has led pastel workshop groups in France. She is represented by Degas Gallery in New Orleans. You can see more of her work and learn more about Marcia on her website.
And now, here’s Marcia!!
I found I loved abstracts early in my painting career, as I dreamed the depiction of this painting and wrote a poem! It was a breakthrough moment, for this piece was awarded Honorable Mention in the 5th Annual Pastel Journal 100 Competition, April 2004 issue. At the same time, it was published locally in Inside Northside Magazine with the poetry in a Feature Article. What did I learn? Follow your dreams (i.e. poetry) and here I am now in 2018 with the recent publication of my poetry!!
The influence of painting en plein air as an element in growth to abstract expressionism
I was able to paint in Monet’s Garden’s for 5 days, with access in early mornings and evenings. The subject matter of water reflections and lilies are familiar to me from nature in Louisiana; which lead to a feeling of “home” and a comfortable painting style. At times, two fantastic artists painted with me: Terri Ford, Eminent IAPS status of California and Maria Marino, IAPS Master Circle and PSA board member from Maryland.
I painted this with total abandonment and the results were a surprise even to me!
The freedom in the opportunity of planning a Solo Exhibition
I was searching for an even looser rendition of the subject I am known for locally. Water’s Essence was the theme that I expounded upon, considering a color palette that would be liked in this region with new tendencies toward a high key and light value decorating trend of whites, grays, and neutrals. I am transitioning by abstracting a local landscape source, gleaning objects and ignoring local color.
I began using the Value Viewer App to print No Tans to assist in creating abstract art from photos of realistic subjects. This painting was juried into the PSA Enduring Brilliance 2015 show and received the Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Art Club Award. It was also juried into the IAPS Master’s Circle Exhibition in 2017.
Water reflections have always been my source of inspiration. For “Koi II,” I was visiting a garden center with a lovely bridge and pond full of koi. I was attracted to not only the swirling, swimming motion of the fish at play below but also the surrounding angel hair ferns and the light reflections bouncing upon the water. This led to the small series of paintings in pastels and oils.
“Koi II” is in a current exhibition with 10 other paintings of mine at St. Tammany Hospital Foundation’s Healing Arts Initiative Program through April 2018 in Covington, Louisiana, and will remain in their permanent collection. The program mission is to promote a sense of well-being and renewal to those who visit and work for the hospital and an avenue used to demonstrate the foundation’s commitment to the healing of patients, families and employees. I was happy to be among the first group of artists to be selected to introduce this program a few years ago and donated art to enhance the new 3North Wing of the hospital.
My new direction into Abstract Expressionist painting truly began with this painting. In 2015 I was encouraged to study with Steven Aimone of Aimone Art Services in Maine. In anticipation of this experience, I purchased his book Expressive Drawing – A Practical Guide to Freeing the Artist Within. I wanted to do my “homework” so I would be fresh and ready for the idea of “automated painting”! Obviously, I was yearning to paint and learn, as I had just returned from the IAPS Convention where I took a brief course from abstract artist and author Debora Stewart (Abstract Art Painting: Expressions in Mixed Media).
My process with this painting was to take a realistic subject that inspired me, but only use one small section of the source to make an abstract painting. The subject was the shadow of Wisteria vines on an exterior wall of the Dallas Museum of art. It was subsequently published in Art Journey Abstract Painting: A Celebration of Contemporary Art edited by Jamie Markle (F & W Media). It was also exhibited in France at the Salon International de Pastel in Giverny, Summer 2017. It received an honourable mention in the Abstract category of the 2015 Pastel Journal‘s 100 Competition.
Abstracting the landscape, moving from realism to abstraction
– Eliminate items in your reference
– Strive for looseness
– Allow some identifiable elements (my choice)
– Pre-select a limited palette of pastels for a look
– Listen to your audience of collectors
– Use technology with the Value Viewer app to create a “No Tan” allowing the artist to undo local color
Summing it up!! Back to total freedom & freeing the artist within
The year of 2016 and 2017 resonates with abstraction! I found many elements have come together and lead me to the freedom I feel with abstract painting. Not in any particular order, for me these elements are:
– The freedom of planning Solo Exhibitions, including large-scale works
– The looseness and quickness of painting en plein air along with inspiration from nature, travel, & France
– Continuation of art study on a Master’s residency level with my contemporary peers in Abstract Expressionism
– Personally giving myself “permission” to paint what I feel, love, and am inspired by; thus, moving from realism to abstract impressionism and pure abstract expressionism using the techniques I’ve accumulated, combined and pursued all at once!
– Pursuing my own developmental career goals in publishing my paintings and poetry in an art catalog
– Enhancing my own education by sharing my ideas and teaching others which strengthens my knowledge of my art process
– The use of rhythm, movement and automated strokes
Here you can see how I interpret from a realistic reference to abstraction on my own terms; the use of expressive line work and painting outside with line.
The element of total freedom of abstract expression in multimedia underpainting techniques and automated linework, as well as pursuing a vision from poetry in expressing a narrative and publishing all the results.
The elements of looseness and quickness in en plein air painting, travel, the influence of nature, the access to “video” and technology of the iPad and iPhone to capture a moment in time for reference of not only the subject but the feeling of wind and rain in Giverny. Also, the element of translating my narrative in Poetry and the publication of the same.
I will be an instructor at the IAPS Convention in Albuquerque, NM, 2019. The final schedule will be announced in Summer 2018.
Thank you Marcia!! I can feel your passion for what you do coming through in your words. And congratulations on being chosen to be an instructor at the 2019 IAPS convention!
Marcia and I would LOVE to hear your comments about her blog and work so I encourage you to leave a comment. Also feel free to ask Marcia Holmes any questions you may have.
Until next time