Monday, October 22, 2012

Why I Create Art

Upliftment, Painting Installation, Acrylic on Raw Canvas
Videotaped by Frances R. Drew. 2006.
©2006 Mary Rush Gravelle (Installation)
©2006 Frances R. Drew (Video)
"If by producing art, the artist, pulls something of themselves from their very soul, and imparts it into the fabric of their creation, and if, as the viewer, it makes you think, makes you question, or moves your soul, than the artist has spoken to you and given that part of themselves to you, and you have unknowingly accepted it......both have made contact through art." – The Art Gallery Shop, Spain 
I wrote the following Bio in 2010 to explain my art making process. I think it speaks to the quote above.

My ARTIST BIO from 2010
Needing a change of scenery from the claustrophobic northeast, I moved to the expansive southwest from Connecticut to Silver City, New Mexico in October 2006.

I have exhibited my paintings in Connecticut, New York, Taiwan, Arizona, and New Mexico in open and juried group as well as one-person shows. I have had gallery representation since coming to the southwest in 2006. My southwest landscape paintings are showing currently at Tatiana Maria at 305 N. Bullard in Silver City.

Art Explorations

Invocation, Oil on Masonite, 16 x 20 inches.
©2006 Mary Rush Gravelle
Over the years since 1992, my art has explored the healing and spiritual aspects of art in the form of free-painting, delved into personal meaning and symbols in abstract formats, and explored the natural world through observing and painting the beauty and awe of the southwest landscape. My working media has changed over the years from pastel, watercolor, tempera, oil, acrylic, and mixed media.

My Art Philosophy

My philosophy on art is that art has the ability to tap into the higher plane of man’s existence both for the artist who is creating and for the viewer who takes the time to ponder its essence. I am more interested in creating beauty with an emphasis on virtue rather than delving into the darker shadow sides of life. My desire is to uplift and exalt through creation. To ride the ray of light is more challenging than to drop into despair and depression. To hold the light and joy for others to see, that is my job as an artist.

My Responsibility as an Artist

Embryonic, 30 x 24 inches,
Tempera on Paper.
©2001 Mary Rush Gravelle
I also feel a responsibility to create my craft on a level of excellence. This helps to impart the message with clarity since the viewer is not distracted with focusing on the flaws of execution. Beauty is served by offering a piece of art that is meticulously made and well thought out. If I am able to accomplish that feat, then purity and grace imbue the final product with simplicity and a voice that will be heard through the work of art that is felt on an emotional level.

My Inspiration

Post-impressionists Matisse and Gauguin inspire the bold use of color. In the past I drew upon inspiration mostly from abstract expressionist artists, Wassily Kandinsky, Joan MirĂ³, Helen Frankenthaler, Jackson Pollock, Frank Stella; the expressionists, Marc Chagall and Franz Marc. These were gutsy painters in that they threw out the old school of realism and rules to pursue the deeper realms of art -- the inner life. Other artists that inspire me are Picasso, Matisse, Gauguin, Van Gogh, Klimt, Georgia O’Keefe, and Monet for their loose structure, use of color, and expressive brush strokes. Drawing upon the oriental brush painting experience, no stroke is a mistake. It is simply the stroke of the moment, not good, not bad. It just is.

My Bottom Line

I trust my intuition to inspire me. I am always surprised at the end result. The bottom line is – creating, especially painting, just makes me happy!
Sunlit Tree Outside my
Greenwich Studio Window,
Tempera on Paper, 36 x 24 inches.
Enhanced in Photoshop.
©2005 Mary Rush Gravelle

For Artists

What is your art making process all about? Why is it important for you to create art? What are you trying to say? What makes your art unique? I invite you to ponder these questions. Write it up in the form of your Artist Bio. This could also be translated into an Artist’s Statement.

For Art Collectors

Is it important for you to connect to the artist? Or do you buy a work of art based on your connection the work of art? Or are both of these factors equally important?

Link: The Art Gallery Shop, Spain,

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Monday, October 15, 2012

Making Art: Seeing, Doing, And Understanding

Barbara's Dancers (, Photograph, 4000 x 3000 pixels,
180 ppi. Enhanced in Photoshop.
©2012 Mary Rush Gravelle


The more you observe your subject through your art making process, the more you will begin to know your subject. Have you heard this before: "To draw something is to know something?"

In art school, my drawing professors told us, their students, that drawing helps one to see better. I think we cannot limit that idea to drawing. I think that doing art in any media assists the artist with better sight.

The artist learns to see better any subject that lights their heart on fire. The more an artist creates artworks based upon a certain subject, the better the artist is seeing the subject on deeper levels.

Photograph, 4000 x 3000 pixels,
180 ppi. Enhanced in Photoshop.
©2012 Mary Rush Gravelle


I learned this idea through shooting photography over this past week. One of my new friends is a flamenco dancer and teacher. She wanted to have a photograph of her students to post on a website for the weekend event, Tucson Meet Yourself. Since I enjoy photography, I offered to help her out.

The Feet of Flamenco,
Photograph, 4000 x 3000 pixels,
180 ppi. Enhanced in Photoshop.
©2012 Mary Rush Gravelle
Much to my amazement, I truly enjoyed this experience. I learned more about flamenco, the dancers, the passion, the colors, and the lessons that it teaches. I observed the dancers through my lens. I took the photographs. I learned to see the subtleties, the joys, the strength, and confidence that the dance brings about in these beautiful women. I also experienced their camaraderie by observing and photographing them helping each other secure their shawls. They truly care about each other.

I then brought the photos into Photoshop to tweak and refine the images. This part of the process brought the lessons of observation and seeing deeper into my awareness.  I began to understand my subject better.

Through art making of the photographic images, I know the subject of flamenco dancing better than I did before embarking upon this project.

The Dance of Flamenco,
Photograph, 4000 x 3000 pixels,
180 ppi. Enhanced in Photoshop.
©2012 Mary Rush Gravelle

Flamenco Dancer and Teacher, Barbara Schuessler

Today is her birthday. Happy Birthday, Barbara, You are a beautiful and inspiring spirit. Thank you for affording me the opportunity to learn more about flamenco through my art process of photography. I am truly blessed to be a part of your process.

What about You?

This level of understanding through observation and seeing is not limited to drawing. It can be extended into any medium of choice.

What subject do you want to learn more about? What media do you think would help you in understanding this subject in a deeper way? Is it important to understand the subject? Or can you create art without observing, seeing, and understanding? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Use this link to contact me.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

My Artist Statement

©2012 Mary Rush Gravelle. Mystery, Acrylic on Cardboard
8 x 10 inches. 2008.

Artist Statement

Graceful form, shape, and beauty soothe me. Angular juxtapositions and vibrant color excite me. Portraying realism is not important to me. The sway of a tree branch, the rich colors of a sunset, the bold red of a fire hydrant, or the angular shapes formed by rooftops, these are some of the things that intrigue and inform my art.
I’m more interested in the process of creation than I am with the final result. I make art to maintain my sanity, peace, and happiness. I always feel so much better after having made something. If I feel cranky or out of sorts I know it is because I have not allowed myself time to create. I just seem to be driven to create. I get a feeling, a question arises, or something intrigues me enough to dive deeper into its meaning. The drive inside urges me to create, to give expression to what I am learning about or seeing in the world around me.
Because of this need to probe deeper, I prefer to work in series. I find that this gives me more of a chance to understand what it is I am seeking to understand. It also gives me a body of cohesive work. I have no fidelities to any one medium or style such as realism or abstraction: although, my work leans more toward the abstract. I use the medium that fits the work at the time
I paint on wood or canvas creating two-dimensional works using mixed media and/or acrylic paints. I also create two-dimensional works using digital media and photography. Clay offers me the chance to make three-dimensional works. Experimenting with the medium keeps my art alive and fresh, keeping me engaged and interested in the process.
To create is everything, life force.
– Mary Rush Gravelle
Does this help you understand my art and why I do it?
Here is an article that helped me write my artist statement.
The Lost Art of Writing About Art–

Have you read an artist statement that you connected with?

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Monday, October 1, 2012

Your Life is Your Work of Art

©2012 Mary Rush Gravelle. My Life as a Work of Art.
Digital Photograph, 3000 x 4000 pixels, 180 ppi.
Enhanced in Photoshop. 2012.

Getting Back to My Blog

It has been three months since my last post. Deadly mistake for the blogger. However, life has been full. I am reminded that our life is our work of art. 

My Art

I have not painted in a very long time. I have not done any new clay work for months. Photography remains the art form of the moment. My camera is readily available. I love making photographic images. I long to get back to painting and ceramics. For now, I am happy carrying out my artistic spirit's musing with photography.

©2006 Mary Rush Gravelle. Earth Light,
8 x 10 inches, Acrylic on Cardboard. 

Lack of Doing Art

Sometimes I entertain feelings of guilt or regret about my lack of "doing my art". This morning: however, I turned on a positive spin on it. What if I went back to my old theory that life can be a work of art?

My Masterpiece

My life as a work of art is becoming a masterpiece of my own making. I make new choices, new decisions. There are new beginnings, endings, and changes of scenery. This is how we make art, right? We begin with the blank canvas, the raw materials, we throw something down, change it up, mix it up, and voila, a masterpiece.

And YOU?

©2008 Mary Rush Gravelle. All One,
24 x 24 inches, Acrylic on Wood. 
Do you consider your life to be a work of art? How so? What are the elements that make up your composition?

Action: Do this Exercise

Try this exercise. Imagine a blank canvas. Now, make a list of categories that make up your life. How many are there? Can you imagine them on the canvas? Where would they be located on the canvas? Would they be on the top, bottom, center, or sides? Which category would be the largest, the smallest? What is the geography of your life?

What Media Best Describes Your Life?

©2006 Mary Rush Gravelle. The Enlightening, 24 x 48 inches,
Oil and Acrylic on Wood. 
Does your life look like a landscape painting? Or perhaps it looks like an abstract painting, or mixed media? Maybe, it is not 2d, not a painting. Maybe it is a clay piece: is it functional or decorative? Is your life made out of steel like a sculpture? Maybe it is soft like fabric quilts or soft sculpture. Begin thinking of your life in these terms. I will bet it will tilt the way you think and live from this point forward.
I love what Misha Lyuve says on his blog post

A work of art is something admired and looked for; it is special and unique; it requires a skill and inspiration; it exists inside of creation and appreciation. What if we were to apply this high standard to living our lives?”[1]

Action: Continue the Dialog.

Please leave a comment. What do you think? How does your life feel or look like a work of art? Contemplate this idea for awhile. Get back to me.

[1] Lyuve, Misha. Living Your Life as a Work of Art., Inc. 2012. 11/01/11 05:03 PM ET.

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