Marissa Madonna

Born in: 1990, United States
Lives in: Wilmington, North Carolina, United States
Describe your art in three words: Representational, Detailed, Sentimental
Education: BFA in Illustration from Hartford Art School
See More Work:

Ballerina in Blue - Acrylic and Colored Pencil on Hot Press Watercolor Board, 15 x 12 in.

"My artwork is inspired by visual storytelling and capturing my subject’s likeness. A mixed media approach combines the freedom of laying bold washes with the tight control of drawing. As the piece is built up in many thin layers, I can carefully explore all the details. Quilting these details together as a visual story is where I find my greatest artistic passion."

What themes does your work involve?
Themes in my work are story and sentiment. My work brings together inspirations from all throughout my life – from my childhood memories to the relationships and roads travelled into adulthood. Each part has brought growth that I love to capture in art.
Describe your creative process.
I begin each project by gathering reference materials, most often photographing live models. While there may be an idea in mind beforehand, sometimes working with the model will inspire an idea for a painting. One of my favorite parts of the process is composing my ideas into a preliminary sketch. The sketch is then transferred onto the final artwork surface – either hot press watercolor board or toned paper. A mixed media approach combines acrylic ink with colored pencil, and finally opaque white acrylic for highlights. The piece is built up in many thin layers, focusing on each detail while also seeing the picture as a whole to create balance in the composition. I think of the value structure and each element of the painting as instruments of an orchestra playing together in concert.
What influences your work? What inspires you? Why do you make art?
I am constantly inspired by the people in my life and the experiences along the way. My inspiration is an eclectic collection of memories and stories – sometimes even expanding upon real life in my artwork. My greatest artistic influences of all are my mentors from Hartford Art School. The techniques used in my work were handed down from them directly, and over time expanded upon in my own way. Always embracing my foundation in traditional drawing and painting techniques, I have been dedicated to carrying on the legacy of my mentors. They helped me grow not only as an artist, but as a person. I am truly grateful for their incredible support and influence in my life.
What is good art? What makes a piece of art great?
I think that good art tells a story in some way, evoking significant meaning for the viewer (or artist!) When these elements come together in a visually beautiful way is what truly makes art great to me. I believe every artist has their own unique voice and that there is something beautiful to be found in every piece of art. Each viewer brings their own experiences and influences with them when looking at art, making each viewing experience unique. In this sense, I believe that beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder.
What is the role of the artist today?
One of the most important roles of the artist is to tell stories, documenting the events and memories of today in a lasting and meaningful way through art. I see an artist’s greatest purpose as being able to inspire others, passing the torch to the next generations the way my mentors passed it on to me.
Timeless Collection - Acrylic and Colored Pencil on Hot Press Watercolor Board, 11.75 x 11 in.


This interview was published by Circle Foundation of the Arts. © CFA Press ∙ Images are courtesy of the artist