When I think of the work of Maria Marino, I think of pastel paintings full of vitality, texture, and colour. And when I say paintings, I think with Maria Marino’s work, they really are paintings! She applies the pastel so thickly, you feel you could be looking at a thick brush stroke of oil paint.
I’ve featured Maria in my monthly selections and have always been intrigued by the process by which she works. I’ve also been amazed by her very textural ink drawings full of density and dark. So, as you can imagine, I am delighted to have Maria Marino as a guest blogger!
Just in case you don’t know her work, here’s a teaser:
Before I hand you over to Maria, here’s a wee bit about her.
Maria Marino Bio
Maria Marino is a Signature member of the Pastel Society of America (PSA) and has achieved Master Circle Status from the International Association of Pastel Societies (IAPS). She graduated from the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), cum laude with a BFA in Interior Architecture. Maria currently serves on the Board of Governors of the Pastel Society of America and is an Elected Member of Allied Artists of America. Her pastels have garnered many awards. You can read more about Maria Marino and see her work on her website.
And here’s Maria Marino!!
Born in Washington, D.C., I became a fulI-time artist in 2015 after a 20-year career in interior design. Before then, painting was only available to me after hours since the demands of architecture took many hours overseeing the design and construction process of a project. Weekend time was also limited yet you could find me painting in the wee hours of the morning.
I am a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art and Design (MICA) and majored in interior architecture. That time was truly a wonderful part of my life for the school curriculum fused the fine arts with the applied arts. Given the fact that I returned to school in my 30’s with a 5-year-old daughter, taking 18 credits and working 25-30 hours a week proved to be challenging yet very rewarding.
One particular instructor that influenced my passion for creative mark making is Linda Mansy, a textiles instructor at MICA. She was truly inspirational and many of the assignments required the student to create a final submission that included drawing and weaving. Textiles incorporate form, line and color to create a beautiful means of expression. Throughout my time there, several instructors encouraged students to keep a sketchbook and to record our thoughts and ideas.
Drawing is what helped me find a myriad of loose and free strokes that I incorporate into my paintings. This was also reinforced by my mother as I was encouraged to paint and draw to my heart’s content while growing up.
I enjoy the use of pastels mostly because I feel that the medium has not yet experienced its full potential. I like my paintings to be truly unique in technique as well as texture. Many of my paintings focus on the landscape and capturing the atmospheric quality of that given moment. It is truly an emotional response in reflecting the conditions of the landscape using the full color range. The texture gives the painting the opportunity to be more dimensional in view and many of the pastel brands out there have their own unique qualities.
For instance, Terry Ludwig pastels have a definitive edge to create a myriad of marks while their buttery quality allows the fusion of various color selections. The edges are especially ideal for getting those sharp strokes that are crucial in the foreground of a painting.
Another brand that I love to work with is Sennelier pastels. They are super buttery and are available in various sizes. Sourcing them in this manner gives the artist an opportunity to expand their mark-making capabilities. The Giant size pastels are especially amazing to work with. One can break them into pieces and/or wield them effortlessly across the surface. Because they are so large they do not tend to easily crumble and allow the painter to cover a wide area quickly. The range of yellows and yellow ochres in the Sennelier line are especially beautiful. They provide a wide range of hues to work with.
Another must-have pastel brand that is in my collection are the Diane Townsend pastels. The unusual shape and gritty texture lend themselves to parcels of pure super-rich pigment that lodge into the tooth of the support. Several color selections have pockets of pigment dispersed through the stick more than others. Crack one of these in half and experiment with the various marks one can achieve. I also use Giraults for detail work, Roches for the final touches of color, and Unison pastels.
There are several surfaces that I typically use: UART 320 grit either loose sheets or mounted on board, Sennelier LaCarte, and Multimedia Artboard. See examples of each below.
There are other papers that I experiment on such as Moulin de Larroque and Moulin du Pombie that is sourced from an old paper mill in France as well as Val de Laga Mill of the Moulin Richard de Bas which is a paper mill that dates back from 1326. Their surface is quite different and not sanded so the process changes to accommodate the surface texture at hand. Beautiful color selections are available yet the distributor here in the United States closed their door last year making it difficult to source.
Another paper that I use is Rives BFK which is available with a slightly sanded surface.
Beginning with the UART 320 grit paper mounted on board this is my process as to how I paint on that surface. I always begin the painting by sketching the composition in with a charcoal pencil and using a watercolor underpainting, implementing transparent color washes throughout. These washes are usually part of the final painting. Allowing the watercolor to run here and there establishes different value ranges throughout the composition. It is important to allow the painting to breathe and not mask the transparency of the watercolor washes.
From there I apply pastel both using a soft grazing technique as well as cracking the pastels onto the surface pretty hard, to create a myriad of interesting marks. Impasto texture fills the composition and it takes a lot of pastels to achieve this quality. Be prepared to use quite a few in completing a painting!
I typically do not use my fingers to blend the pastel since it dulls the spectacular quality of the pigment. The end result is to have pure pigment dispersed throughout the painting. I rely on simultaneous contrast of colors to pull forward and recede areas in the composition. The larger the strokes painted in a dynamic manner, the more interesting the painting. A mix of softer edges will give me the volume I need in certain areas of the painting. This is evident in my painting “The 3 Sisters,” a mix of watercolor washes and pastel completed en plein air.
Working with LaCarte I use a completely different approach since the finish is comprised of a finely ground natural cork on heavy cardstock. This paper cannot take a water application and I rely on a different process to complete a painting.
The composition is drawn in using a charcoal pencil and I begin by massing in the dark areas and establishing the highlights early on. I will work to develop the light scheme within those parameters. From there I explore the use of different colors, relying on temperature and value to bind the composition together.
The studio painting “A Winters Passage” illustrates this approach. Even though this was painted from a photo I wanted to express the icy feeling of that winter’s day in Chadds Ford, PA. That lone sycamore tree was bathed in beautiful light that particular early afternoon during a visit to the museum. The tree is the focal point and the most important element in the painting. The range of blues used in this painting was sourced from my Sennelier, Terry Ludwig and Unison stock.
Multimedia Artboard is altogether a different surface and comprised of paper pulp and thermal set epoxy resin. It is lightweight and great for using watercolor wash underpainting without buckling or warping. “Summer Light Reflections”, a small 6 x 6 inch painting, is a great example of the buildup of pastel achieved on this surface. Working on such a small footprint, the texture suggests the form without slavishly copying every detail. Keeping those darks semi-transparent and lights opaque give the painting the uniformity it needs. It also lends itself well to the application of a grit primer and well suited for plein air studies! It’s such a great size to record those fleeting moments of light in the plein air environment.
I have to admit there is no other medium like pastel! Its versatility, from creating beautiful drawings to paintings that are full of impasto and explosive color, is unmatched. Truly they are my sticks of joy and I hope that my paintings express my emotional response to the landscape.
Thanks so much Maria for being a guest here on HowToPastel.com!! I just LOVE all those thick pastel marks! I think they are brave and dynamic.
Maria and I would love to know what you think of this blog post so please leave a comment with a thought or any questions.
Don’t be shy. I LOVE hearing from you!
Until next time,