September 3, 2014

Making Abstract Art = Alchemy

In Trance, Acrylic and oil stick on panel, 12" x 12", 2014,  Marianne Mitchell

Alchemy is about transformation.  And it is a magical process be it in science, art, or personal growth.


A keenly intelligent spirit and newly retired art teacher, Vicki has been spending time getting reacquainted with her own artistic process.  She decided that working in a one on one, in-depth capacity focused on developing her abstract expression was well worth the investment.

The challenge was to find the "voice" connection between the many different mediums she works in - knitting, quilting, painting, collage, drawing, calligraphy - and transform these separate creations into a unified form of expression.

Layers are important to Vicki.  Layers of history, spirit, emotion, geography.  Layers of fabric, yarn, paper, paint.  

How can abstract creation weave together layers of meaning and medium?  

This question instigated long wonderful conversations about the "macro" and "micro" of the cosmos, nature and humanity and how everything is related.  These conversations were the foundation for assignments and instruction that led to Vicki's breakthrough in understanding her particular voice, recognizing what needs to change in a piece during the process of creation, and blending various mediums together to capture the textured layers of her heritage, spirit, and feelings.

" Understanding abstract creation has made me more observant. I see shadows and colors in the landscape differently, seeing abstraction everywhere I go.  The WOW factor is much stronger because of an awareness opening up for me that was closed off before.  I now see the importance of making abstract art and its connection to everything."

Vicki Vitatoe's last day of her artist Mastery Focus program

  • Want to have a cohesive voice in your artwork?
  • Need to reconnect with your artistic self?

I have five free Discovery Sessions available in September for talking about your needs and how I may help in reaching artistic goals, breaking through creative blocks, solving technical issues, and more.

It's first come first serve so CLICK right away to reserve a time that's best for your schedule.

July 31, 2014

Making Abstract Art = A Whole New Being

Beaming, Oil Pastel, 10" x 10"

Many people in my classes and coaching programs say, "I need to connect with myself."


They have chosen making abstract art as a way to release tension, center their being, and restore connection 
between consciousness and unconsciousness.

Diving into a box of colors with canvas or paper at hand, marks appear from an intangible realm.  This out-pouring of intuition abandons the ticker tape of thoughts controlling the mind and allows for deep connection within ourselves.

Returning from the well of "No Words" a critical eye analyzes what has transpired out of the color and marks.
  • What grabs me?
  • What area pleases me least?
  • What clues in the colors and marks do I want to bring forward?
Then it is time to dance between thought and intuition with intentional and spontaneous marks living side by side, moving towards resolution.

The oil pastel above, Beaming, represents letting go of tension, getting centered, and feeling restored by making abstract art.

Contact Marianne to discuss how making abstract art will balance, center, and restore you!


July 2, 2014

Making Abstract Art = Mental Yoga

Marianne Mitchell, "Layering Energy", Oil Pastel, 22" x 30", 2014

Sometimes, in order to keep breathing, the left brain has to rest.

Many of us are required to sit for long hours, staring at our computer screens, exercising our fingers and linear brain power. Being the sole person generating my business I am occupied by this combination of activities for a good portion of every day.

Today, gradually but then suddenly my whole being felt suffocated and silently screamed, "NO MORE!"

With oil pastels and paper close at hand, the trusty iPod full of favorite tunes ready to go…
my hand furiously, albeit rhythmically, danced across the paper making random marks that turned into swaths of rich color and layered light. Conscious knowledge of "what it should be" was absent from my creative outburst.

Breathing regulated, energy returned, and equilibrium was restored.

Making Abstract Art is like doing Mental Yoga!

Contact Marianne for more information about her Whole Artist study options…

June 1, 2014

Making Abstract = Possibilites

What does the word "possibilities" mean to you?

These are some thoughts that come to mind...
Dreaming of
Choices galore
Activating imagination
Yet to be finished

Making abstract art offers an open-ended path, where dreams can be expressed figuratively and literally, with unlimited choices activating the imagination and expression remaining unfinished until it is "finished."

For me, the work above remains unfinished.  Why?
  • The "story" it has begun to tell needs refining
  • It has yet to have enough "resting" places within the work
  • Heart and mind need contemplation to spawn possibilities
Look closely…
What areas do you see possibilities for changing color, composition, value, line, essence?

This piece, "On the Way" will be in an invitational exhibition titled "Unfinished" sponsored by the Art Students League Denver at the Pattern Shop Studio gallery opening June 20, 2014

May 2, 2014

Making Abstract Art = Expanding Horizons

Marianne Mitchell, In Liquid, Oil pastel, 10" x 10", 2014, sold

2014 marks the 5th and final year I will have taught The Practice of Making Abstract Art at 
Drexel University College of Medicine.  It is a thrill to witness the students transform from needing control, to being afraid of losing control, to accepting that there is no control, to enjoying the unknown, 
to trusting that whatever happens is good.  

Self-knowledge | Trust | Whole Picture | Acceptance | Focus 

A few words from the students themselves…

I learned that I can handle new things and there is no reason to doubt myself or not trust what I am doing. 
~ Sonya Shah, 1st year 2014

Medical training emphasizes that there is a right answer.  In making abstract art your best work is "you" - we are free to do, and think, and be whoever we are. We all come from different backgrounds and have unique contributions to make. ~ Angela Chang

Making abstract art has trained me to see the whole picture of something and not just the details.  Surprisingly, looking at the whole picture made me notice more details. ~ Nathan Steiner

I found the ability to let everything in the background fade away and focus on what was in front of me. ~ Kimberly Dike

I learned that I can actually create a piece of art that other people can enjoy and critique - which I found to be an amazing experience. ~ Bridget King


~ Elizabeth Jennifer Lin

~ Sonya Shah

~ Andrew Lin 

~ Kimberly Dike

~ Nathan Steiner

~ Jennifer Lane

A special thanks to Dr. Steven Rosenzweig for listening to my niggling notions about how 
making abstract art promotes the integration of intuitive and analytical thinking and taking a 
chance on a course that had yet to be designed when he hired me.  

April 7, 2014

Making Abstract Art = Tuning Within

What happens when vision is absent while starting an abstract painting?

Some paintings are directly informed by the essence of a place and/or experience, some paintings are born out of the unconscious - coming from deep inside your being that is beyond visual and literal description.  All abstract paintings evolve through the integration of sensory experiences and unconscious thought. 

How do you start a painting without any literal reference?

Let the unconscious be your guide!

Random color choices and mark-making tap into a voice that has yet to be "heard" in the mind.  

The painting above is an example of such random mark-making and color mixing.  Starting out as a "demo" piece for acrylic paints, there was absolutely no connection to any place, thing or feeling.  Months later with the demo being a distant memory, it was finally time to give meaning to the painting and finish it.  

With no feeling for what it "had" been and no intention for what it "should be" I spent time looking, feeling, and pondering the color, lines and shapes on the canvas. (Actually it's a wood panel!) What relationships made sense to me?What connections between colors and shapes and lines were intriguing to me?  How did these color and shape connections make me feel?  Answering these questions guided me in the process of bringing the painting to resolution.

Interested in learning how to harness the unconscious so that your spirit fuels your art?  

Schedule a Complimentary conversation with Marianne to learn how to make your signature artistic voice really shine.

Contact Marianne…

March 3, 2014

Making Abstract Art = Tuning the Senses

Detail: Ocean Motion, Acrylic on Panel

An often asked question is:
Do you have something in mind when you start an abstract painting?

The response varies:
sometimes YES, sometimes NO!

But always present at the beginning of any piece is an acute awareness of all the senses contributing to color choices, mark-making, and value - light and dark placement.

What sounds and smells do you notice on a walk?
What colors stand out while you do errands?  
How does the weather affect what you put in your memory bank of the day?

All of your senses inform your artistic expression.

So in asking the question, "Do you have something in mind when you start an abstract painting?" this painting is case in point when the answer is: "Yes!" 

Years ago I spent time staring into the Pacific ocean at Point Lobos Wildlife Preserve. My wonderful cousin Jody lived in Carmel for a while and her door was always open for her artist cousin who needed an infusion of California Coastal Essence.  Whole days were spent by myself sitting on the rocks, basking in the warm sun kissed with cool wind, getting soaked by ocean spray crashing against the rocks, and mesmerized by the glistening deep blue water constantly in motion while the rich colors of the tide pools surrounded my perch.

Years later I reached into my sensory memory bank and pulled out one of those days...

Commission: Ocean Motion, Acrylic on Panel, 30" x 40", 2014

Though unaware that this painting was going to embody these memories when begun, thinking about Jody and seeing, feeling, and hearing those days at Point Lobos guided the color choices, mark-making, and values created in this painting.

Stay "tuned" for next month's blog which will address the question, "Do you have something in mind when you start an abstract painting?" with the answer "NO!"

For information about commissioning Marianne for a custom piece of artwork, or to learn about how you can become the artist you always wanted to be, visit Marianne's new website in mid-March!

Can't wait until mid-March?!

February 4, 2014

Abstract Art = Mind Body Soul

Apparently playing football and making abstract art have something in common!  They both require the mind body and spirit to intersect for winning the game or creating a finished painting.  The commonality ends there.

In making a painting that visually communicates to a person's emotions and intellect, the creative process must incorporate the heart and soul with an intellectual understanding of what is being communicated, while handling the medium in a way that visually captures the emotional and intellectual intention of the painting.

If one of these components is absent then the painting feels incomplete.

Below are four pieces.  I believe three of them are incomplete and one of them has it all!
  • Which one is all about emotion with little analytical thought to it's composition? 
  • Technical marks are too evident in one, making it hard to "feel" the piece. Which one ?
  • Which one has a nice composition and pretty colors but lacks heart?
  • Which one speaks to your heart and mind through seamless handling of tools and medium?



You all might have different opinions than me!  Love to hear your interpretation of each piece.

Interested in breaking down barriers so you can become the artist you want to be?
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  • Get introduced to how your analytical mind propels your work forward
  • Experience the magical state of spirit and mind working simultaneously as your work develops
  • Become aware of knowing when your work has reached resolution
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January 6, 2014

Making Abstract Art = Innvovation

Being an abstract artist is being an innovator.  

An abstract painting begins with random marks coming from the heart and mind and through the hand onto the painting surface.  My favorite description of this action is "Reckless Abandonment."  It is the artist's version of brainstorming. Below is my Reckless Abandonment start to a painting.

The first phase of INNOVATION is brainstorming.

These random marks and color yielded a base that gave form to the compositional structure below.  "Composition" is applying "logic" to the core stuff of reckless abandonment.  How can I make sense of this random inner expression coming out?  What shapes and colors communicate the essence I want to share?  This is taking brainstorming information and connecting the dots to form a painting, an idea, plan of action, product, strategy, or whatever comes from the act of creating.

The second phase of INNOVATION is connecting the dots.

"Back to the drawing board."  Sometimes logic, or deadlines, or self-consciousness, can take control of the creative process.  My heart and soul got lost, disappeared, in the above composition.  Some might really like this version of the painting - I did not.  So what you see below is me taking the plunge and covering most of it up through a healthy dose of reckless abandonment action painting.  I had no direction planned in my mark-making.  I just wanted to get back to my "heart and soul." I wanted to integrate my intuition and logic.

The third phase of INNOVATION  is integration.

How do you know when a painting is finished?  A regular question from viewers, students, other artists, and art appreciators.  Well there is my secret checklist that considers the totality of the emotional, intellectual, and physical blend in a painting.  When the checklist is complete, the painting has reached resolution. For me, the painting below has all of the elements on my checklist. 

The last phase of INNOVATION is resolution.

Want to know my Artists Secret Checklist?
Consider having a complimentary conversation about studying with me.

Interested in applying these innovation tools to making your art, building a business that embraces innovation, or integrating intuitive thinking into medical practices?
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