By Jillian Risberg
His abstract original works have been dubbed ‘happy art,’ and that makes international award-winning painter Evan Stuart Marshall happy because it’s the emotion he’s trying to evoke.
“I want my collectors to feel good, get a lift whenever they walk past one of my paintings,” Marshall says about the vivid vibe they bring to any room.
He works on several pieces at once. Currently the artist is developing a series of paintings using classic compositions such as the cruciform and the ‘Z,’ assemblage pieces—found objects combined to create ‘2-D collages’ and altered books, using an old book as the basis for an art piece.
He can’t live without his texture tools.
“My pieces are highly textured and I am constantly experimenting with various materials to achieve new and different textures in my work,” says Marshall.
“Recently I’ve been using shelf liner (rubbery, waffle-patterned stuff), coffee sleeves, bubble wrap, styrofoam, sponges, knives, razorblades, netting, paper doilies—you name it,” he adds. “Anything to get the effects I’m after. I scrape, blot, stencil, scratch and use my fingers a lot.”
Marshall’s latest experiment is pressing styrofoam plates into wet paint, letting lo paint half-dry, then tearing the plate away for a ‘grunge’ effect, according to the painter.
He is inspired by art he loves.
“If I see a design, texture, shape or color combination that appeals to me, I make a mental note, go back to my studio and see what kind of twist I can give it,” says Marshall. “In other words, I use a tiny piece I loved in the art but build my piece around it, making it mine.”
He leaves full of ideas he wants to experiment with whenever he goes to an art museum or gallery.
The artist feels enormous satisfaction knowing one of his (uniquely colored) pieces brings people joy.
“I am extremely grateful for the support of the people who collect my work and the galleries that show it,” the painter says. “It’s a dream come true to be able to do what you love and have other people connect with it.”
He chooses colors ‘that make my eyes happy’ when he paints — it’s the only way I can describe it, he adds.
“I don’t stop working on a painting until the overall piece excites me the way I hope it will excite the viewer.”
Some of the painter’s recent favorites include: Diffusion, 2021, acrylic on canvas, 20” x 20”; Moulin Rouge, 2021; mixed media on panel, 20” x 20”; Flying Free, 2020, mixed media on panel, 20” x 20” and Circuit, 2021, mixed media on panel, 20” x 20”.
According to Marshall, the most exciting thing about creating a painting is setting something down on that blank surface and seeing where it takes him.
He paints intuitively and iteratively, making a mark or shape, considering what he’s got, making another mark or shape, and so on.
“I never know what I’ll end up with,” the painter says. “I continue this process until the painting excites me, and I always know the exact moment to stop”.
Like many artists, Marshall has always been interested in creating art. In junior high school he famously created ‘psychedelic’ posters (it was 1969, he says) for his friends at a dollar each.
He took art lessons on and off throughout childhood, and his favorite subject in school was understandably art class.
“I undertook my art career in earnest about 25 years ago,” Marshall says. “I began with landscapes and still lifes, felt something was missing — tried my hand at abstract art (and) I was hooked!”
His best advice to upcoming artists is to forget about giving people what you think they want. Instead, create art that is truly you.
“What you would buy for your own home,” says the painter. “If you build on what makes your work unique and make it the very best it can be, you will find an audience. It wasn’t until I stopped trying to copy other artists’ styles and focused on developing my own that I began experiencing success. Let your style come out and run with it.”
He teaches mixed-media abstracts for the Livingston Arts Association and continues creating pieces for examples to show his students.
And Marshall started his new after-school mixed-media class for teens on September 21.
For more information on Evan Marshall, visit www.evanstuartmarshall.com.