Wallace F. Marosek: Artist Statement

Wallace F. Marosek

For the past forty years, I have worked as a professional Graphic Designer, using photography, type, hard edges, and precise geometrics.  My work has been researched, analyzed, and distilled. I have held positions as a Senior Designer at Princeton University, Harvard University, and at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, while maintaining a free-lance practice.  In addition, for the past twenty years, I have taught Senior-level Graphic Design, Illustration, and Painting as a tenured Associate Professor at Suffolk University.  In this capacity, I was able to marry my two loves: painting and traveling, by creating, leading, and teaching a college-level program of Art History and Painting in Italy.  However, my Graphic Design and teaching careers merely supported my deep-rooted passion, my artistic need to create works of art in pastels, watercolor, and oils.  My choice of medium for each drawing and painting varies and is based upon their unique properties and how each best matches my artistic goal 

I am most inspired through travel and the thrill of creating outdoors.  My work is immediate, spontaneous, a response to fugitive light and the mercurial nature of atmospheric conditions.  I am inspired to capture the unique moment with my brush and paints.  In terms of traditional classifications, some may conclude that I am a representational painter.  However, I do not seek to accurately show objects or places.  Rather, suggestions of color, texture, the rhythm and pattern of light - these are, for me, the elements which compose a painting.  What matters most to me is to translate nature's awe-inspiring grandeur into another visual language - my personal interpretation.  My composition is different from another artist's which makes the creative process so very exciting.  I strive to achieve realistic abstractions; my end piece therefore does not emphasize the exact, literal scene but rather the fundamental spirit of place, time, atmosphere, scent.

I view my drawings and paintings as expressions of places in the process of evolving and I, the painter, am waiting for these creative forces to manifest themselves.  The challenge is to at all times remain close to the creative spring, the center, to be watchful, alert, wide open; to allow myself to be nourished and developed by experience, especially travel.  I couple the exploration of different lands and cultures with the discovery of new techniques, materials, tools, etc. in order to extend expression.

When creating, I am in continual motion - flexible, open, in a state of invention.  It is important for me to respond openly and spontaneously.  I do this when I encounter what, to me, is beautiful.  I respond by painting.  I set out with alert eyes, heart, and ears; awake, aware, and unguarded; ready to be touched by the truth of things, to give myself up to wonder and astonishment before the richness of the world and what it has to offer me. I am most inspired while traveling with a drawing journal my constant companion.  I find that traveling alone affords me the time to realize who I am, to be still, to listen to my deep centered self. Each time that I have traveled, what I have observed and experienced has echoed inside me.  Forms, colors, scenes - a relation between ambiance and atmosphere - these stay with me and energize me.  It is a repertoire - a visual buffet of forms, shades, textures, and light.  Often the subject matter inspires me, redolent with history.  Each emotion, each moment of wonder, a phrase I've heard or read - all this is the raw material which I use in sketching, drawing, and painting.  My response is playful, not pretentious.  I try to incorporate into my paintings my inner reactions to what I see and experience. 

 

The intent of my visual travel journal has not been to record the sights, but rather to capture the texture of the regions in which I have traveled and lived.  The resulting en-plein-air watercolors and oils are my travel post cards.  They are moments in time which caused me to stop in my tracks, forced me to change my day's plans in order to chronicle my reaction to that moment and to that moment's light, feel, colors, and shadows.  The mornings, the afternoons, or the evenings, captured in small format, consolidate my experiences.  When I review these paintings together with my written journals, I again experience the sights, the sounds, the smells of that moment.  My body of work, the product of several months living in Tuscany and France, is filled with the shimmering air of these beloved regions under whose spell I have fallen.  Memories of ripening lemons, centuries old terra cotta urns and garden statuary, the scent of rosemary roasting under the mid-day sun and lavender, the flat tops of umbrella pines, the narrow obscure winding village streets, the ochre-washed walls of the ancient villages themselves - all come back to me. Both regions are born of the sun; they live by the light.  This light is in constant motion, full of joy and energy.  Today, even now, all this returns to me, a little at a time, and lives within me when I look at these paintings.  I can linger and let all that warmth wash over my soul.

The choice of a small format for my paintings is deliberate; I want to create only spontaneous works which I can complete on the spot.  Larger works take too much time.  These small paintings record moments in time as quickly as possible while traveling - painting en-plein-air, adding nothing more to the piece after leaving the site.  Therefore, my supplies are intentionally limited, easily packaged and carried, so that I can concentrate on living and capturing the moment.

My interest in en-plein-air painting began as a child, traveling abroad with my family. Location choices then were dictated by my grandparents and parents. Now, as I have the freedom to select location sites and medium, I have immersed myself in the art and landscape traditions of French 17th century artists Claude Lorraine and Nicolas Poussin and 19th century artists William Turner and Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot. I have been fascinated by their landscape pieces created while on their Grand Tours.

I also find inspiration in the theoretical writings of 18th century French painter Pierre Henri Valenciennes. In his highly influential treatise on open air painting published in 1800 he advocated the study of the elements of landscape painting such as trees, skies, water; his objective was to obtain an intimate familiarity with nature in order to sharpen his visual memory to aide studio work.

As I progress as an artist, I continue to find my inspiration in the works of the classic artists and in documenting the unspoiled grace of nature befre they disappear.