Career Day - Marie Scott Art, Greenville, SC
Marie Scott is an artist in Greenville whose work is characterized by bright, vibrant colors, florals, and landscapes. I got to photograph her working on the first of a series of 3 paintings that she'll have available as prints for Mother's Day! So if you're looking for the perfect gift for you mama, look no further! For information on ordering prints, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
She's also sharing her creative process and some meaningful, honest advice for other girls looking to do what she does, so let's get to it...
Tell me what you do in 2 sentences or less!
I am an artist who loves to paint bright, bold, contemporary flowers and also soothing, peace-filled coastal landscape scenes. No matter what the subject matter — my goal is to create pieces which capture a perfect moment in time.
What’s your favorite part of your job?
My process of painting is very much the same as how one would put together a puzzle. So my favorite part of my job is when the "puzzle" is about 80% done and I can feel the momentum build as I unravel all the shapes and make sense of so many squiggly lines that I drew onto the canvas before I began with the paints.
I probably spend 50% of my time painting and 50% working on marketing, bookkeeping, fighting off random distractions to creativity, etc. But the physical act of painting is definitely my favorite part of my job and is what makes me feel the most balanced as a person. The other is all a necessary evil, but also something I do enjoy (in moderation) in a different way. Mostly because it uses other parts of my brain and also the skills I developed over the years when I was a working full-time as a graphic designer.
What are you looking forward to most this year? Any big goals or projects that get you excited?
My husband Tim and I are going back to Charleston at the end of May for two and a half weeks so I can participate in a 16-day outdoor art show called the "Piccolo Spoleto Juried Outdoor Art Festival." This show is made up of South Carolina artists and is held at Marion Square in the middle of downtown Charleston. I am most looking forward to the chance to meet people from all over the country and hear their stories, as people often tell me things they wouldn't normally mention in passing to a stranger.
I'm also looking forward to being surrounded by the 83 other artists who are crazy enough like me to think this sounds like a fun use of time. We have done this show twice before, and both times we did the show I came back exhausted —but also feeling completely energized and affirmed as an artist and painter.
What’s your go-to when you need creative inspiration?
Hmmm... good question. This probably sounds counter-intuitive, but for me, I think it is planning. I have never thought about this before. When I have no "plan" I flounder. Everything feels way too overwhelming, and too big, and too hopeless. But when I have a series of three or more paintings drawn onto canvasses — ready and waiting for me to bring them to life — it is like all the clouds of despair that often chase me at a distance melt away.
So yes, planning. That is definitely my creative inspiration.
What does your creative process look like?
I paint from photos that I take on bright-blue-sky, sunny days. I take a LOT of mediocre photos when we travel. Or, sometimes I will just be in my studio or in my yard, or my kitchen, and I will see the sun casting shadows onto a flower so I will photograph that. I normally paint in a series of three or more pieces, so I will choose photos that I think could all hang together on the same wall. I then take these photos and one-by-one I put them into my "artograph" projector to project the image onto a canvas which I hang on the wall so it is completely upright. I then copy what I see by "drawing" that image onto the canvas.
What this gives me ends up looking nothing like the original photo. It is more like a jumbled mess of crazy lines. But the main thing it does — is help me define the areas of lights and darks and the general composition. My painting style is built on contrasts so this is a really important way for me to get these areas placed correctly. Some people may call this cheating. But I don't think it is. I am perfectly capable of drawing a photo onto my canvas. I would just rather use my time to paint with color than draw a boring gray pencil line. I love how there are no hard fast rules in art. (Unlike so much of the rest of life!)
What’s the biggest overall lesson you’ve learned in running a business?
For me, it is to stay in love with the process of making art. And to NOT judge my success based on anything other than how happy I feel with the paintings I have created in the last calendar year.
I ran my own art gallery/gift shop for three years and then decided to close it about two years ago after learning the hardest lesson I have ever had to face. I am simply NOT willing to make the sacrifices that are necessary to have a successful, profitable retail store.
I cannot do it all, so I have chosen that for this season of my life my family needs to be at least somewhere on my list of priorities. It probably still isn't high enough on the list — but it is ultimately still MORE important to me than my success as a business person. I am currently choosing to do less than I want to with my career for the good of my family. And for my own mental and physical health.
Any advice for women interested in what you do?
Do not give up your day job! I know that is going to sound really discouraging, but it is very, very, very hard to make any money creating art for art's sake. UNLESS -- you are willing to find a specific niche market that people have a strongly felt need for. If you are willing to do that -- than go for it!!
I have just never been interested in devoting my energy into the types of artist projects that could actually pay real money (like teaching painting, interior design, graphic design projects, etc.) When my husband and I were in our early 20s, he went back to school for five years (after already having earned a 4-year degree) so I was the main breadwinner all those years while he worked incredibly hard in school, and also at running the rest of our lives and working summers too.
So long, long ago when those five years began, we made a deal that when he was done with all of his engineering schooling that I could do whatever I wanted to. So that is why, and also what, I have had the privilege of doing for the past 15+ years. Making art. The one thing that I want to do more than anything else.
But my advice is this: no matter what you choose to do, nothing is perfect. So just figure out what you want to do MOST and be realistic in knowing that even the most glamorous sounding work comes with completely boring and mundane tasks. There is no perfect job, and no perfect life. At least not here in this world.
What’s a personal motto or quote that describes how you view your work and/or business?
I started my business "Marie Scott Studios" in 2001. At the time, my mission statement was "Creating and spreading beauty." Along the way, there have been stretches of years when I totally forgot this concept. But whenever I come back to it, it reminds me of what I feel I was created to do.
The idea of creating and spreading beauty has played itself out in different ways over the past years. I am currently in a season of life where my plan to accomplish this mission is simply to keep on painting until my son goes off to college. So right now, I am just preparing for that next season —when I will have a lot more time to devote to figuring out what to do with all the paintings I will create while he is in high school starting this fall.
Anyone that inspires you or that you look up to in Greenville?
Greenville is a hard place to be an artist. I personally have not found an artist community that I fit into since moving here in 2008. And I don't think I am alone in feeling this. Is that OK to say??? Probably not, but it is the raw truth. At least for me.
So I guess the answer is no. Which is why I am going to Spoleto to sit in my art tent for 16 days straight, in the June sun, where is will be 100 degrees in the shade. But I will be so happy there — surrounded by other artists who will embrace me as a peer.
I started my painting career when we still lived in Milwaukee and had a huge support network of other artists there who were at varying stages of their careers. So if I had to name one person it would be the amazing urban landscape artist named Shelby Keefe from Milwaukee, WI. She held my crying, 6-week old baby while we set up for my very first art show, and even pretended like she thought my paintings were good. Even though they were NOT. We lost touch over the years but she was always so incredibly supportive, despite her own success. There was another artist who also was a similar role model. Her name is Susan Tolonen. Another super talented, successful, encouraging role model that I was lucky enough to know when I was first beginning my career.
Now that I think about it, maybe it is time for me to be that person to a younger artist.
Favorite song to listen to while you work?
NPR and whatever classical music is playing in the morning.
OR, if I am feeling especially blue and beaten down — "It Is Well" sung by Kristen DiMarco. I listened to this song on repeat for an entire morning recently until I felt the words penetrate my spirit as I continued to play it on and off for a couple of weeks. It was the best medicine for my soul.
In winter: jeans, smart wool socks, and a cute top. Over this I put on an oxford shirt that has the monogram from the graphic design firm I used to run with my sister-in-law back in the late 90s. It says "Morton Hall" and is covered with years of paint stains. And over that, an even dirtier white apron that has one of my paintings printed on the front. It is a super ugly abstract that I did probably in 2005. No matter what season the weather is, I have to wear my painting shoes. These are a pair of old running shoes that make me feel grounded. And look utterly ridiculous in the summer when I pair them with a sun dress.
What’s currently on your desk or in your workspace?
I have a big drafting table in my painting studio that I use to spread out my paints when I'm working so I try to keep is as clutter free as possible. (I keep my computer desk in another room — otherwise I am too tempted by distractions.) On my drafting table is an orange flower pot full of crayons to remind me where I began, and also for the occasional color study I sketch out. I also have a photo of my 14-month-old "baby" sailing through the air on a swing (taken 13 years ago) to remind me that time with him is flying by... only 4 more years until he will fly away and leave our nest. I recently added an owl-shaped white ceramic planter with a floppy green basil plant coming out of his head which I think looks like green feathers. For years I have had an enormous red paperclip that holds a photo of a recent painting.
But the absolute most important thing on my table is a small art print I bought a few years ago that reads, in big bright type — "I AM NOT AFRAID. I WAS BORN TO DO THIS. — Joan of Arc." This sign has motivated me to keep painting more than anything I have every owned.
Last book you read?
I am currently reading "Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia" by Elizabeth Gilbert. I am reading this as a backdrop before I dig into her new book called "Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear". I recently heard her speak about "Big Magic" on a podcast, and am I dying to hear more of the big, magic, creative truths she has learned over the years. If her newest book is as good as the interview, I think it will be a life-changer for me and how I look at my relationship with my art — despite our different world views and theological differences.
Favorite restaurant in Greenville?
Handi Indian Cuisine. It is the most beautiful restaurant space/atmosphere on Main Street in downtown Greenville, and run by the sweetest woman you could ever want to meet. We are always amazed that it isn't busier. We eat Indian food whenever we travel to other cities and have never found an Indian restaurant that even comes close to Handi.
“With each new oil painting I create, I am striving to evoke feelings of happiness, hope, and peace. I love to paint landscapes that offer an uplifting view of beautiful places. I also love to paint flowers that smile with contentment as they bask in a pool of the sun’s warming light. Each of my paintings are intended to be snapshots of one perfect moment in time. They are meant to provide a glimmer of hope for this broken world.” — Marie Scott
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