Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A cross-country move, jumping in with both feet and art creeps back into my life

It’s been about a year since I picked up a brush, or did anything having to do with art. Many have questioned my all-or-nothing approach and why I had to make such a clean break.

It’s not all that difficult to understand. When you are creating art for a living (and anything else for that matter), the pressure to keep those bills paid can take a serious toll on your enjoyment of that activity. In the case of artistic endeavors, it can take a serious toll on your creative freedom.

My financial and personal world fell apart in 2009, right along with just about everyone else’s. In my desperate attempts to hold it all together; I lost my desire to paint. Everything that was calming about it became filled with anxiety. The strength I once felt became emptiness. The fascination turned to foolishness. I developed an aversion to art, literally feeling sick just going near my easel or even a gallery.

Despite all of those feelings, I knew, given the time, I would come back to painting. It’s a constant in my life. The most wonderful thing about painting is that even without practicing; I can pick up a brush a year later and it’s like I never stopped. So a new series is in the works, based on my new/old hometown and the people in it: Miami.

Below is a preview of a work in progress. I'll elaborate more on the move in next week's blog.
If you live in the South Florida area, my past works can be seen at GAB Studio (Wynwood design district) for the next two weeks. Come by this Thursday between 7-10 and I'll be there!

Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Up for auction: Interior with Chair

I want to congratulate my friend, Micheal Bruce for his winning bid on "Slow Like Honey!"

This week, I'm reaching way back in the archives and auctioning off a painting I did in 2002. I did this one before art school, and it was a real breakthrough for me both technically and conceptually. I took a lot of risks, pulling away from traditional representation and learned in the process.

This painting was influenced by one of my favorite artists, Mark Rothko and I used his technique of placing down washes of color on top of dry underlayers, then scrubbing them off to reveal the colors underneath.

I've enjoyed this painting for years, but it's been placed in storage. Which is why I'm happy to give it a new life in a new home.

“Interior with Chair” is an ORIGINAL oil on canvas.

This piece is a BIG 36x24", on high quality cotton canvas. It is framed in a modern brushed aluminum frame with 2" edge. The painting is signed and dated.

To bid on this lovely beast, visit my Facebook page. Friend request me if you aren't already one. Just comment on the album to place your bid, it's that easy! Auction ends at the stroke of midnight of April 12th PST

A paypal invoice + shipping will be sent to the high bidder via private email.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Slow Like Honey

She's up for auction on Facebook this week, in a full size (22x28") framed giclee on canvas. Hand embellished, signed and numbered (#2/195)

This is one of the original 3 that launched my nude series in 2008. Painting the body angle was a struggle, and there was a moment when I considered abandoning the painting. I remember staring at the unfinished nude, thinking it needed something...and then hibiscus flowers were on the canvas within minutes. People often mention Hawaii when they see this one, but for me, the hibiscus flowers come from my home in Florida.

The original sold quickly, within a month from completing the painting. In fact, every one of the original three flew out the door. Which is why I'm happy to be able to reproduce Slow Like Honey in a fine art giclee.

If you'd like to place a bid on this giclee, you can find the Facebook auction here. Just comment to bid. Or friend request me if you aren't already one :)
Auction ends April 5th!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

A little death, a little love

Today I visited my blog page for the first time in 6 months…to the day. It’s like a little time capsule at this point, and my life is vastly changed, and still changing.

I’ve been working in an office as a marketing associate, with my very own cubicle. It’s actually been a nice change of pace, like putting on a new persona and acting in a play. I get a steady paycheck and it’s the most wonderful thing ever. I could probably do this for the rest of my life in some capacity, build a career; I’m good at it.

I haven’t picked up a paint brush, hardly even made a sketch the past six months. While it may seem like a sad thing, it isn’t. My art went through a little death and I’m healing. There is still more healing to do, still financials to sort out. It will take more time, but I always return to my brushes and oils eventually.

In honor of this healing process, I’m clearing out the studio; getting rid of all the old, to make room for the new. I’ll be auctioning and selling all my older series of paintings and any canvas prints on Facebook over the next few months. I want them in the hands of the wonderful people who supported me through all of this.

So on to new and better and brighter things!


Thursday, August 27, 2009

some major changes

The White Dress #5 (sold)

I've thrown my hands in the air. Working as a full-time artist is no longer feasible. I've given everything to my art, and there's nothing left. The painting will continue, but at a much slower rate. At moments like this, it makes me seriously question my talent, and even my sanity.

I'm once again filling out job applications and sending out resume's. I won't let the electricity get shut off, or the kitties go hungry. There's no way to raise the funds to attend those festivals I'm just dying to participate in this year. Nope. It's time to put this art thing aside for a bit, and focus my energy on a steady paycheck. When I get back on top of my finances, I'll try once again. In the meantime, I won't be accepting any more commissions (sorry for those on the wait list). Any extra time will go to my own work.

It's such a shame that the living artists in our society are not supported better and valued. We don't get unemployment benefits and most can't afford healthcare. When you factor in the hours spent creating and promoting, most artists earn much less than minimum wage. Art is the first thing cut out of school budgets, yet artists produce the most cherished objects in a society's

A new mini (4x4") painting, available for purchase:

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

From the archives

I have a huge walk-in closet, which is fantastic, except there isn't a stitch of clothing in it. No, my dream of a closet is stuffed with paintings, canvas rolls, old frames, prints and stretcher bars. I was wading through it the other day, and it seems such a shame that some of these paintings aren't proudly hanging on someone's wall, appreciated the way they should be. Of course, there are some in there that will never see the light of day; experiments gone wrong, class assignments. I'm too sentimental to throw these away, but likely will one day.

I pulled out this gem, it's a nice size, (24x36"), and always received compliments from folks when they visited my old studio. I painted this one back in 2004, bundled in a coat in a cold Salem, MA basement. I hadn't painted in nearly a year and was exploring. It was meant to be a series of three, but I only did the one. In the hope of finding it a good home, I'm listing it on Etsy at a very affordable price

Here's a nifty mock-up of what it would look like in your uber-modern home:

UPDATE: The painting sold. Congrats to the new owner!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

fruits and veggies for mental health

I've been in a holding pattern for the past six months, artistically and in my life. It's been a tough year, financially and emotionally. I try to stay disciplined, forcing myself to sit down and pick up that brush no matter what. This is my livelihood, after all. I don't have the luxury of putting my paints aside waiting for inspiration.
Some healing was in order, and to do so, I turned to an old friend, the still life.

16 years ago, I took a few college oil painting classes, and didn't do very well. In fact, I dropped out twice. A few years later, I tried painting again, on my own terms. I bought some cheap 16x20 canvas and painted a single big fruit on each. There was a pepper (left), a lemon, and a peach. These forgiving orbs lacked skeletal structure, making it easy to concentrate on color, form and light. My success allowed me to gain confidence, branching out in to potted plants and eventually, the human form.

Painting a still life is a type of meditation for me, and in that meditation, ideas form. I've been simmering the proverbial idea cauldron for months, and now I have a new direction. The fruit and veggies will be set aside for a later date (once I finish the few left on the easel).

Purple Pepper (2000)

Some new mini paintings:



images © Marni Mutrux 2009

Saturday, July 25, 2009

A nude for Sunday

Something Only She Knows 30x40"

I finished a new painting this week, and I'm so happy with the way it came out. These large ones are very special to me, and it takes months to do just one. From first conception, it often takes years before they come to fruition.

This one was teetering on being "finished" for weeks, but I kept making small adjustments; fine tuning the color arrangements, flow and overall solidity. There's always a moment (after working for hours), when I take a step back to look at the painting with fresh eyes. It either tells me it's done, or it's set aside to for another day. How do I know when it's done? It's when I can look at it as a whole, without my eyes being drawn to this part or that. It's when I know I haven't neglected any one part, trying to convince myself it's good enough. The whole painting settles, and in some way, becomes it's own entity. It tells me it's ready, and I let it go.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

New paintings, proliferation and compulsion

Looking back on my mini collection, I'm amazed at how fast they proliferated. I started painting them in March, and here we are a few months later with nearly 40 of them (I'm including the few sitting on my desk unfinished). What was intended as a brief project has mushroomed into an entire series.

I'm debating if I should take a break from the mini project. I love the mindless intensity of painting these little beauties, but wonder if my time is better spent on other paintings. These are choices we all have to make as artists. With so many creative ideas, it's difficult, but important, to edit. Time will tell if the mini's make the cut.

This latest batch continues several themes. The cherries (top) are part of a little subgroup. I spent a whole afternoon arranging and photographing cherries in my backyard for these. There are more in the works, all pairs of ripe cherries dancing into the night.


"Apricots" continues my fruit theme. I've developed a habit of scrutinizing the produce section for painting subjects. It looks a little nuts, as I hold up each fruit to the light, examining it from all sides for character, shape and color. Perhaps I should extend my search to the meat isle, or canned goods. The possibilities are endless.


Claws is part of a commissioned group of kitty paintings. The intense close-ups are my own compromise on painting cats. I loathe painting "pet portraits", despite their popularity. By getting so close and cropping, these become something beyond a portrait.

Siamese Fighting Fish

Lastly, little fishy. I can't help myself with these. I've painted a slew of little fish paintings throughout the years. Most were sold or given away. I don't even have photographs of them. It's the play of light and color that I find irresistible, and the tremendous personalities. Or it could be the guilt from when my entire tank of fish died from ick when I was 12. Every time I finish one, I want to start another.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

My audition for Bravo's Untitled Art Project

Last weekend, Bravo TV held their LA auditions for The Untitled Art Project. It's a reality show backed by Sarah Jessica Parker with a format similar to Project Runway and Top Chef.

It took a lot of convincing before I decided to go to the audition. I don't take a 6 hour drive (each way), and the cost of gas and a hotel room lightly. I went, not because my hopes were pinned on winning a spot on the latest reality show (quite possibly a career-killer). I was curious, and felt it important to stick my neck out once again, even if it's only to add another rejection to the pile. I'm very proud of all those rejections. It means I'm out there, trying to do whatever it takes for my art. In the very least, I'd meet people, artists willing to take chances, and that is always worthwhile. Plus, I have this interesting blog to write!

Jeff and I arrived at the audition an hour early, and the line already spanned half the block. The morning sun was still low, leaving just a few feet of shade. With temperatures in the 90's, we hoped to get in before that sliver of shade disappeared. In front of me was artist, Patricia Anders, an LA native. Behind me, artist Scott Ward, who flew in that morning from Seattle. As people arrived, I was pleased to recognize a few of the paintings they carried to the audition. Some were artists I'd shown with, others I'd seen on Myspace or some other Internet site.
There was a buzz in the air, as we all speculated about the show.

Finally, the line began to move, as small groups were taken inside the gallery where auditions were held. By noon, just as the shade vanished, our group was ushered to the back of the building. At least a thousand people were left waiting in the sun. At this point, I became a little nervous, wondering what sort of questions they would ask. By now, I'm accustomed to talking about my work, but I'm intensely camera and stage-shy. I tried not to think about it.

Walking the line

We were each given folders, numbers and name tags, and our photo was taken. Then we waited once more for our numbers to be called for a portfolio review. Minutes later, our group was led into the building. We entered a small gray room with a table at one end, where two staff members were quickly checking portfolios. I remember thinking they were awfully young to be doing portfolio reviews. Patricia went before me, and two minutes later, she went onto the next room.
When it was my turn, I sat down, giving the staffer my portfolio. She breezed through the first images, (my figure series) without a pause. Then she stopped at my portraits of Billy Holiday and Quincy Jones, saying, "these are really good". She rushed through the rest, disinterested. The only one she lingered on was Breakfast in Bed. There were no questions, just a "thank you', and I left for the next room.

This is when things became a little odd. The next area was another holding room, where people wait for the next phase. Patricia was gone, but someone I didn't recognize was in front of me, probably from the proceeding group. One of the staff was explaining to him in a soft voice what to expect in the next phase, what they were looking for, and how he should present himself. They seemed chummy, shaking hands and patting each other on the back. I tried, but couldn't catch all he was saying. At that point, the rest of my group filed in behind me. The same staffer approached them and explained something to them under his breath. I was distracted, and didn't pay close attention, assuming it was a shorter version of what I just overheard. I realized my mistake when everyone behind me turned and walked out the door. This is when I had to chase down the staffer to ask what he said, and was given a "thank you, but you aren't what we're looking for."

Baffled, I walked out into the summer heat. It wasn't the rejection. It was the expectation there would be some sort of interview, or a few questions asked. They could have looked at portfolios with a mail-in entry.

From what I can deduct, from casting director interviews I found online, and through my own experience, Bravo is looking for a very particular style of art. From that pool, they will cast some very particular personalities. At the LA audition, several invitations went out to well-known pop-surrealist artists. Perhaps that's who the portfolio staffers were on the look-out for.

In the end, I'm happy I went. It was an experience, and I was able to be in the presence of hundreds a professional artists-a breed of person I'm endlessly fascinated with. Knowing the show's criteria, I won't try again next season, but I look forward to the guilty pleasure of watching the artists fight it out on TV.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

New Mini Paintings and a Studio Update

I've been working away this week, finishing up two new paintings in my ongoing figure series, plus mini's and commissions. Taking a quick count, I have 17 paintings going at once. Even by my standards, that's a lot!

It's not over-ambition (well, maybe a little), but my process that makes this the norm. Working in oil, it's important that the paint dries before I continue onto the next layer. I like to work in intense, straight-out-of the-tube colors, and if you work a painting too much while it's wet, those colors mix together and become mud. By letting each layer dry, I can layer a transparent wash of cadmium green over pink, and they don't blend together.

I have a few new mini paintings completed. My favorite of the three is the poppy. I just love them, and their thin, nearly transparent petals.

Cherry Love

Ginger Cat (sold)

On the show front, I've been doing some serious thinking about the festival circuit and where I need to focus. Financially, many of these shows are out of reach, so I'll be cutting back significantly. I dropped the Mill Valley, Beverly Hills and Sacramento shows, but added a small event at a Polo club in Petaluma on the 19th. I'll continue to add small events for the rest of the year, when opportunities arise.

Instead, I'll be focusing my efforts on gallery shows, and improving and expanding my jewelry line. I feel silly just saying I have a jewelry line, because I'm not a jeweler-but I have one. Go figure.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Marin Art Festival Review

A few weeks have passed since the Marin Art Festival, and I have to admit, this one wore me out! It wasn't the festival itself, since set-up was relatively easy. It was the mental strain of preparation, and that difficult switch to the "selling" side of art that did it.

The show wasn't a resounding success. It wasn't a failure either. Like most shows I've done this year, it was so-so. Marin puts on a gorgeous art festival. The quality of work was high, the food was very good, and the live music and entertainment was engaging. Attendance could have been better, but people were buying. Unfortunately, When you pay $1,000 just for the booth space, it's difficult to break even.

Despite the cost, I'll continue to do fine art festivals when I'm able. They are worth the effort for the opportunity to meet people face-to-face. When your art is hanging in a gallery, you usually don't get that chance. Someone I meet at a festival this year could result in a commission, sale or connection years later. When you spend most of your time holed up alone in the studio, that's invaluable!

There I am, in requisite floppy hat

Booth interior

The show from above

artist, Hines
another female figure artist (a rarity), Chelsea Croy

some very elegant stilt walkers

glass sculpture by the bay