Sunday, September 9, 2012

Mary’s Art Studio Sanctuary by DIY Del Ray

Katie and Leslie of DIY Del Ray visited my studio a few weeks ago and wrote this wonderful blog afterward.

Here’s just a teaser...
In a small studio in a typical Del Ray duplex, artist Mary Louise Marino explores written line drawings, an art form influenced by nature and Japanese calligraphy.

Read more here!

DIY Del Ray celebrates the art of small spaces and the creative spirit. Follow along as we talk about interior design, unique storage solutions, living with kids, home improvement and craft projects, entertaining, and everything we love about the charming little neighborhood of Del Ray.

Photo credits and copyright © 2012 DIY Del Ray 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Artist Profile: Amber Kendrick

I decided to start something new—artist profiles on my blog. Selfishly, it’s a way for me to get to know artists in the area, peek into their studios, and find out more about their work. In exchange, writing a blog is a way to showcase them and their amazing creativity. Artists are well known for being challenged in self-promotion and while my blog isn’t anything notable, any plug for an artist is worthwhile in my opinion. So let’s begin!

Amber Kendrick graciously agreed to be my first profile artist, going into it knowing that I haven’t done this before. She lives in Del Ray, is my yoga teacher at the local Y, pixie petite, and is laced with beautifully tattooed writing and feathers. She moves us through yoga positions we didn’t think we could do to the backdrop of decidedly non-yoga music. She’s awesome.

It was no surprise to discover she was an artist and soon we were exchanging each others website addresses. Here’s hers, if you are now curious: cloudterre. Amber is a ceramic and glass artist and her recent work is designing custom tableware for high-end restaurants. She describes her work as “minimal and subtle design with an emphasis on details and craftsmanship.”

Amber adjusts the damper while firing the gas kiln filled
with tableware for an upcoming restaurant, Sūna.

Amber’s inclination has been more theoretical, studying architectural theory and philosophy of art. It wasn’t until later that she decided (and it was a huge decision) to study architecture. She spent seven years in San Francisco as an architect and two years ago moved back to DC. It was her mom, an accomplished artist herself, that lured her into ceramics. She taught her everything she knows.

The studio!

One of two potter’s wheels.

Bags of clay nearby. One interior side of their garage holds
boxes of different types of clay, from the floor halfway to the ceiling. 

A bisque load in the kiln, which is located in the garage.
Clay plates and bowls are fired at extreme temperatures
to remove the moisture, making it easier to apply glazes.

The plates and bowls are stacked before
their next phase, glazing and a final firing.

One gorgeous set is a recent commission for Ashby Inn that Amber has just finished—bread and butter plates meticulously designed to cradle the butter knife of the inn’s new silverware. Thirty prototypes were developed for chef Tarver King before settling on the final form and look. The ceramic body is porcelaineous stoneware with a satin white glaze and a modifier to form the crystals around the edges, giving it a glassy look.

Amber works thoughtfully with her clients. In the case of chefs, the first meeting is to understand the concept for the restaurant, to learn how they plate, to get a sense of the menu, and discuss intentions for the tableware. She encourages the chef to share inspiring images that hint at their thinking—be it color, space, form, word, or mood.

“My creative process still originates with schematic sketching. I can’t escape an architectural approach to design... I begin to sketch forms and simultaneously think about surface, function, how the piece will be transported from kitchen to table, how it feels, how the plate or bowl might serve as a ‘blank canvas’ for the chef while creating an inspiring backdrop. It’s very similar to architecture to me, designing walls and openings, creating a space or an object for some event or experience to take place.”

Above are final prototypes from a current commission by chef Johnny Spero, who is opening a restaurant in DC this fall, Sūna. There are ten forms, with a total of 600 ceramic wares by the times she’s done.

Amber and her studio companion, Gusto. 

It’s not luck that Amber lands these great commissions. Her talent, dedication to form and expression, and insane perfectionism are exactly what is needed to create tableware for high-end restaurants. When she was starting out she would send prototypes to a few restaurants to get their honest feedback. She gets her work out there, knows how to network, and draws on word of mouth.

Amber reflected that it’s important to strive to always do good work, to keep working on yourself, and continue to refine one’s craft and design. She’s looking forward to an upcoming intensive workshop at Arrowmont to take her craft further and is already poised to take on new commissions.

Her greatest challenge at the moment is emerging from her studio, which is not a bad challenge. At all. But I get it. I’d love to be working in my studio all the time, too!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

art for charity

Last month there were two opportunities that came up to donate artwork to a charity cause. Nothing like being motivated to do good by supporting those who are doing great things for others.

The United Way of the National Capital Area’s Shoebox Project invited anyone to create a decorated shoebox and fill it with basic needs that would be redistributed to the elderly, veterans and the homeless around the greater Washington region. Since I’d been into boxes lately, this seemed like an easy enough thing to do.

It was fun rummaging through my decorative papers again. I have to say that I didn’t labor over the choices of what papers go where as I normally would have. The process  was quite intuitive and random, and somehow it all worked.

I liked it so much at one point I thought about keeping it all for myself! But then every time I'd look at it I’d think, now that wasn’t very charitable, keeping that box. Sad but true. I handed it over.

Here it is finished, all bright and cheerful.

A close-up view of the inside.
Quite a patchwork going on here.

Here’s what I filled my shoebox with.
I consider chocolate a basic necessity.

 I decided to make another one, maybe
keep this one all to myself! Here I am in my new
studio with the tree top view.

The second art for charity project was for the Rochester Contemporary Art Center’s (RoCo) in Western New York State. I entered because I grew up in a little farming town south of Rochester, called Pavilion.

Earlier in the year I did a mark-making series exploring a handful of hay dipped in gouache. Some of the pieces in and of themselves didn’t work, but when I cut them in 2"x 2" squares and rearranged them on the panel, something interesting started to happen.

RoCo has a cool fundraiser, a “small art phenomenon,” in which anyone can enter to donate their work. All artwork must be 6"x 6" and is accepted, exhibited, and on sale for $20 to benefit RoCo. You can enter up to ten pieces. They received about 7,500 entries this year, including my three below (go to artwork number 3751, 3752, 3753).

This one sold!

This effect was achieved by pressing
gouache-dipped hay between two pieces of paper.

This imagery was left over from the “twirling”
series I did a few months ago.

Now that we’re on the other side of the move into our new house and I’m in my studio again, I’m slowly getting back into to making things — for others, or myself, or charity, sale, or a show, or just because.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

In My Studio

Over the past few months I’ve been busy in my studio making things. Most of the things end up not much of anything since I’m really just experimenting – generally messing around with new material and processes and figuring things out and making mistakes. Along the way though, some things have turned out alright, interesting in fact. Here’s a showing of what I’ve been up to lately (the images aren’t the best quality, but I hope you get the idea):

I decided to add dimension to my collage cards by making them into collage boxes. Starting with pre-made papier maché boxes I used a découpage technique to adhere the paper squares, finish it off with several coats of sealer, then wet sand it for a clean, smooth, durable finish. It took me a while to get good a this. I am now a fan of Mod Podge.

These are seconds. Or firsts. I tried to make my own box but they turned out lopsided and the lids crooked. Using my line drawings instead of decorative paper was one experiment. I haven’t settled on any of those versions yet.

This is a new direction, a hanging of one of my line drawing series in three-inch square panels. The inspiration for this came from a fiber artist, Sheila Hicks, whose work I saw a couple of years ago at a gallery. Creating the hanging was an experiment using new materials and processes and dimension. I need to make more of these. Actually, I want to make a BIG hanging, floor to ceiling.

I found my Japanese calligraphy exercise sheets from 1992 when I lived in Kyoto. I have a stack of these that are not very interesting by themselves anymore, but cut up into three-inch squares and rearranged, they start to take on a different quality with the bold black/white, positive/negative shapes. Still experimenting with these.

The top image is from my second term printmaking class and the technique is lift ground for drawing. I actually made a mistake in the process but was delighted by the result anyway. Printmaking is such a mystery. There are many steps and you just don’t know what it’s going to look like until you lift the paper off the press. This one I titled "Writing Spirals" and entered into The Art League Gallery Student/Faculty Show (bottom image).

I returned to my familiar mark making after all that paper cutting and gluing with the boxes and panels. I took a small handful of dried hay, dipped it in gouache, and made marks on a page. John thought the top one looked like a visual musical composition. The bottom one reminds me of twirling and cartwheels, something I liked doing as a kid in our big side yard.

The top two images are part of the same series, but I took it a step further. I cut up some of my mark making images that weren’t strong on their own into one-inch squares and rearranged it. A final of the top image was titled “Five Square Mark Making One” and entered into Del Ray Artisan’s twentieth anniversary all-member show (along with “Writing Spirals”, also shown in the bottom image).

I feel like I haven’t had this kind of a sustained wave of creativity since my time on Martha’s Vineyard nearly a decade ago. That sense of self and joy when I am doing my artwork makes me so happy. Thanks for letting me share what I’ve been up to lately in (and out of) my studio.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Another Show

Last Friday was the show Artist Warriors: Post Apocalyptic Adventure at Del Ray Artisans. Earlier in the week I had dropped off a newly-framed piece (a big shout out to Stephany at Artifacts in Del Ray for her stellar job of framing). It’s entitled “Scorched Industrial.” Since I didn’t get an email telling me it wasn’t accepted, I assumed it got into the show. I’m figuring out how this works now (see my previous blog “Little Things Are Big Things”).

Although I was out of town and couldn’t make it to the opening, my lovely husband John went and took some photos. Yep, there it was on the wall, stark black charcoal marks next to other pieces of intense dark-like images. It was hung next to the bar so apparently there was a steady flow of people potentially, well sorta, maybe looking at it. At least we could imagine it so.

I have to say when I first heard about this show I didn’t think I would submit anything. The theme was “imagine you are an artist surviving in the landscape of a post apocalyptic world.” It wasn’t one that inspired me to create new work and I didn’t think I had recent existing work that fit into the theme... until I can across some of my charcoal drawings from my India Tile Sketch series. The one I submitted spoke the strongest of a charred landscape and forbidding industrial rubble, destroyed by sudden neglect or explosion. Hence the name, “Scorched Industrial.”

The show runs until the end of January. I’ll be there this Saturday morning to gallery sit. Stop by and say hi and see the show if you’re nearby.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Little Things Are Big Things

This is a big thing. I got into the show It’s All About the Little Things at the Del Ray Artisans Gallery. Strange to say but I didn't actually know if I got in or not until I showed up at the opening. I had suspected at least one piece would get in (as a member you’re almost guaranteed at least one), but all three? Yep.

There they were in the corner, looking pretty cool actually. Well, at least I thought so. A few other artists approached me with nice comments on my work so they must have thought they looked alright, too. Of course then I wanted to know all about their work, their process, their inspiration. I was immediately reminded of how wonderful it is to talk to other artists! I stayed until nearly the end. Maybe I didn't want it to end.

That goofy smile was on my face until my head hit the pillow.... my work got into a gallery!

Written Drawing Translation I | Etching | Fall 2011

Eucalyptus Leaves | Soft Ground Texture Print | Fall 2011

Five Square Drawing Two | Graphite | Spring 2011

Friday, October 21, 2011


I remember it being pretty intimidating, my first printmaking class in undergrad – the big open room with well-worn presses, toxic chemicals, ink-stained basins, warning signs of do’s and don’ts. It seemed to take forever to do one thing and I’m sure I goofed up a lot. There’s this vague recollection that as a graphic design major I didn’t quite belong there. But I must have liked it and done alright. Three of my prints are still hanging in my parents’ house.

I find myself again taking a printmaking class. This time it’s in etching and intaglio at The Art League School in Old Town Alexandria. My eagerness has replaced any intimidation despite the same set-up. It’s messy and there are still plenty of scary chemicals and so many steps to get from plate to press to paper. The results are luscious, though – the bone black marks and feathery grays on velvety paper.

Unlike in undergrad, I do feel like I belong. Probably the difference is that I know what I want to do now – translate my written and line drawings into the printmaking medium. I’ve only done one image so far, a translation of one of my written drawings. I had no expectation of how the print would turn out but it was wonderfully different.
Take a look.

The print.

Detail of the print.

Original written drawing.

Detail of the original drawing.

The etched plate. I used a scribe to etch in the thin and thick lines on the plate that had previously been coated with an acid-resist hardground. For more details on the process, I found this short summary on etching.

A tracing of the original drawing. That’s how I transferred the original drawing to the coated plate. When run through the press the graphite is picked up on the plate and the imprint is what I followed to etch.

Next up, aquatint. Stay tuned, this is fun!