Friday, October 23, 2015

Painters in Residence Look Back: Brad Marshall

Our final Painter in Residence, Brad Marshall, wrapped up his time in the park at the end of September. We spoke to him about his paintings, inspiration, and whether oil paint comes out of  clothes (spoiler alert: it does not.) You can also read our past interviews with John CataniaSusan Weintraub, and David Lee.

Brad Marshall was our fourth, and final, Painter in Residence for 2015. Photo by Angelito Jusay.

How does painting in a studio compare to painting outdoors?
In general, painting plein air is very different for me. I'm much more contemplative when I'm working in the studio. I'll work on an area, then I'll stop, and there's times when I'll go back the next day, look at what I've done, and say that doesn't work--and repaint everything I did the day before. Whereas in Bryant Park I just have one part of the day, or not even that, because of the way the light changes. I'll work this morning, and I'll work to finish alla prima, all at once. I will choose my subject, and I'll have to record it in the two or three hours that I have before the light changes so much that it's not the same subject anymore. So my approach is much different.I get in what I can-- I try not to get bogged down on details, and just get the color and the value. It's a lucid type of painting.

As far as the environment, it's much nicer in the park. I had such spectacular weather the week I was there.  Bryant Park is so pleasant, it was never too crowded, and I was never really bothered. It's a wonderful environment, much nicer than my studio. If I could put up a tent and make Bryant Park my studio forever, I would! Could I be a permanent painter in residence?

When the light is just right,Marshall focuses on completing his painting. Photo by Angelito Jusay.

What is that ball-on-a-stick tool that you use to paint?
That's called a maulstick. It's a very old instrument. There are self portraits of Rembrandt with him holding a maulstick. You brace it against the canvas because you need your hand to be very steady. You can't just put your hand on the canvas to keep it steady, or you'll get paint all over your hand. So the maulstick hits of the edge of the canvas, and allows you to balance your hand. The ball touches the canvas in a very small area, so it either doesn't make a mark or makes a very small mark. You can also use it as a ruler, to guide the brush, and give you very straight lines.

Marshall using his maulstick, a tool famously used by Rembrandt. Photo by Angelito Jusay.

How did you choose your subjects?
The week before, I came to the park and walked around it, and took some photos of what might be interesting to paint. So I had some in the bank to look at. I didn't do all of them at all, but I had a sense of what might appeal to me. I would sometimes go looking for those subjects I had already chosen. But sometimes I would just go and look, to see what appealed to me that day. Again, it's about the light- it's always about the light. Some subjects I wanted to do, and then went to them, and it just didn't look right! 

The luxury of having two weeks meant I didn't have to find the perfect thing to paint. Sometimes when I do plein air I'll go one day, on my own or with a group of friends, some place--up the Hudson or something. And you're there, so you want to find the best painting you can do, or the best subject, because you're just there doing one painting and then you're going [home]. The two weeks [in the park] meant I could do more, and each didn't have to be the Perfect Bryant Park painting--I figured I'd get a few of those. [Editor's note: you can see Brad's paintings on his website here.]

Marshall's setup on the lawn. Photo by Angelito Jusay.

What was your favorite painting you produced during your residency, and why?
The one that I thought came out best? It's a funny thing for an artist, because I'll look at the one I think was most successful, and captured the way I wanted, and people looking at the painting care about the subject, and they might look at it and say--I love the carousel horse, so the picture of the carousel horse, that's my favorite painting! And I'm thinking--I didn't quite get what I wanted. They don't know what I wanted.

The two paintings I did of the library wall, near the Bryant Park Grill, were the most successful. The larger shot was the only one I spent two days on, because that light was so fleeting. I started it knowing I couldn't finish it that day -- you only have about an hour a day with that lighting. Towards the end, I did one closer in of the Bryant Park Grill and library. Those two are my favorite, and then a few of the watercolors. I had fun with the watercolors.

Any particularly interesting interactions with patrons in the park?
The kids want to get too close, and they want to touch the paints. You have to tell their parents, this stuff NEVER comes off!

Brad Marshall was born in New York City and earned a degree in psychology at the University of Florida and later attended the San Francisco Academy of Art. While appreciating 20th century abstraction, he strongly believes that “the millennium of representational work should be disregarded.” In creating landscapes, he seeks to “capture some of the feeling of that place” in the hope that viewers of his art can feel something of what he himself experienced. He has had solo exhibitions at the Fischbach Gallery, has been part of group exhibitions at Fischbach, Pelham Art Center, Schmuker Gallery in Gettysburg, and more. He also was awarded First Prize at the National Arts Club Annual Exhibit in 2006.  

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