Indefinite, oil on linen attached to panel with layered materials, 26″ x 26″, 2014
Figure Study 3, oil on linen attached to panel with layered materials, 48″ x 24″, 2014
Passages, oil on linen attached to panel with layered materials, 48″ x 36″, 2015
Divergence, oil on linen attached to panels with layered materials;
diptych with two panels totaling 60″ x 48″, 2015
Portrait Study, oil on linen with layered materials, 36″ x 30″, 2014
Separated, oil on linen with attached materials, 24″ x 18″, 2014
My painting process is characterized by a balance between the visual expression of what I see and personal influences. I experience this process as a series of investigations and discoveries as I explore my interactions with the subject and all of the underlying influences. I want the painting surface to be full of life, and so have developed a layering technique that includes texture, paint, and collage as the underlying structure. These three elements combine to generate the setting for the model or subject. Repetitive layering and painting continue until I feel a sense of harmony between these physical components and the evocative aspects of the subject that is being depicted.
My current series of paintings is called Beneath the Surface. All people — and nature itself — have distinctive layers. We have our dark side, and light; parts of ourselves that we show and others that we hide within. These combinations together create the beauty of who we are. My hope is that the viewer sees and interprets the paintings, or parts of the paintings, in a different way each time the artworks are experienced. This is how I believe we view people, nature, and life—always seeing and realizing new things, each time we look, as well as always being affected by what came before.
I generate my ideas and concepts through the painting process itself. As I work, the unpredictability of the layering of materials that I use between the paint covers, yet also emphasizes, areas, concepts, and metaphors. Each step is a reaction to the one before. It is a constant building-up of an image and a tearing-down. The more layers I paint, the more interesting and thought-provoking the surface becomes.
For me, this is a metaphor for humans and how we are shaped by what we have experienced. I use transparent materials between the layers of paint, so that the earlier paint stages leave faint traces underneath and showing through; one always sees the steps. As in life, my intention in painting is always to search for and arrive at a balance between order and chaos, light and dark, tradition and expression.
About the Artist
Mara Light was born in New York in 1970 but raised in Southern California from the age of three; currently, she lives and works in Pennsylvania. She comes from a family of visual artists. “Painting seemed very natural to me,” even during the earliest years of childhood, she says, adding that she considers herself extremely fortunate to have parents who look at the world artistically and visually. She was encouraged, at times even pushed, to make personal artistic expression a part of her life.
Mara Light received a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from the Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, where she made conceptual art her focus and explored installations using nature as her medium of choice. Painting was in the background, as within conceptual art boundaries, but gaining a critical and aesthetic understanding of painting and drawing for a distinct artistic vision was not part of the curriculum. Nevertheless, having begun studies in the Illustration Department before moving to the Fine Art Department, Mara Light did take some drawing and a few painting classes.
Following college, Mara Light held various art-related jobs, painting, whenever possible, in her spare time. For six years in one job, she worked exclusively in a photo-realistic style rather than employ the expressive brush strokes that came to her so naturally. “I was very free in painting, and it came to me easily from the start,” she remembers, citing the “incredible high” she experienced while painting. Twelve years later, she still is working to “unblock” realism’s strong hold on her. “I have had to unlearn everything I taught myself,” she stresses. With the realization that painting in so realistic a way is not considered “true” painting, Mara Light strives to overcome the “disappointing reality” that it may take years of patience and perseverance to become the painter she longs to be. Seeking to advance her skills in painting every day, she does not restrict herself to a single technique or material, finding that different materials generate a wealth of ideas, concepts, and metaphors to explore.
Mara Light has exhibited with and enjoys continuous representation by many galleries, including Park Gallery and Classic Gallery, in Carmel, California, and Brennen Galleries, in Palm Desert, California; Scottsdale, Arizona; and Santa Fe, New Mexico. She has received painting commissions from dozens of private and public collectors, and her work has been featured in charity events and at cultural centers. Her presence on Saatchi Art Online, where curators have featured her paintings several times, is slowly bringing her worldwide recognition.
Her greatest hope, Mara Light says, is to continue to produce art that connects with people and stimulates ideas.
Mara Light has a solo exhibition at Christine Frechard Gallery, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, beginning May 1. Her work can be seen, beginning June 14, at Butler Museum of American Art at Trumball, as part of the 104th Annual Exhibition of Associated Artists of Pittsburgh.