Wednesday, August 3, 2011


The ochre sea, oil on canvas, 60 x 56", 2011

What are you working on in your studio right now?

After working on large paintings over the last three years, recently I decided to work on a set of relatively smaller canvases. The new series is 36 inches x 54 inches. Since I've become very interested in photography over the last couple of years, I chose this size because it is similar to the proportions of many of my photographs. I thought it would be interesting to see what the format would lead to in a painting.

Can you describe your working routine?

Basically I don't have one! If a painting is at its early stages, I work on my photographs in the morning and paint in the afternoon. As the painting begins to take shape, I work on it earlier in the day. When a work is very close to completion but not quite finished, I usually finish it in the morning after being away from it for a day or two.


Can you describe your studio space and how, if at all, that affects your work?

I'm very fortunate to have a wonderful studio just one floor below where I live. Obviously, this makes it very convenient. It's quiet and has a lovely feeling of solitude. It's set back from the street, so even though it's in a very busy part of Manhattan, it's isolated and private.

Tell me about your process, where things begin, how they evolve etc.

I slowly add thin layers of color, usually alternating between dark and light. I build up dozens of layers before the surface becomes interesting to me. Also, the colors are constantly changing because each layer mixes with the previous one, usually in unexpected ways. The composition shifts as I work because I make decisions between my preconceived ideas and the random happenings of each layer's color and surface. Somehow through this process the work starts to paint itself. Then I know that I'm getting close to a finished work.

Reflection in gold, photograph

The sun hat, photograph

What are you having the most trouble resolving?

I find non-figurative painting compelling and I have no desire to paint recognizable things, but I love photography and working with “real” images in that way. Communicating the essence of the visual ideas I'm working with in my photographs in a non-figurative painting is an exciting exploration but a difficult one to resolve.

Do you experiment with different materials a lot or do you prefer to work within certain parameters?

My paintings tend to be oil paint on canvas without too much deviation. I experiment more with how I apply the paint than with the paint itself. When I try new materials it's usually with collages and other work on paper. Recently I've been using the computer to “draw” on my photographs, bringing them somewhere between a drawing and a photograph.

The artist at work

What does the future hold for this work?

I don't know if the conversation will remain between my paintings and my photographs or if I'll mix the materials in some way in the future. Right now I love painting and I love working with photography.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Only to thank you for your interest in my work.

Salt of the earth, oil on canvas, 60 x 112", diptych, 2011


  1. Thank you for this interview - Marilyn's work is fabulous.

  2. Great work! I will share your post!

  3. I am an german artist based in Hamburg and met Marilyn thru artdoxa. Now I found this blog and find the idea just great visiting artist at their studio and ask questions to be answered. I havent seen or get to know this in germany. A good impulse for the future. All the best for all around here. Ulea Wesemeyer

  4. Any chance of seeing her work in UK?