Q&A with Award Winner Marsha Staiger

“Graft Revisited, Morning” by Marsha Staiger

For the August landscape show at The Art League Gallery, “’Scapes,” juror Jonathan Linton selected the extra-tall abstract painting you see to the right for the Chameli and Amiya Bose Award, which goes to the best acrylic or oil painting on stretched canvas. Graft Revisited, Morning, by Marsha Staiger, has clean lines with a human touch, Linton said, also praising the color and texture of the painting. “The textural patterns look effortless and as if they belong exactly where she put them,” he said.

Marsha has also donated a painting from her R&B series for the Online Silent Auction of Faculty Work, starting on Sunday. You can read more about the auction, which will fund the Madison Annex build-out campaign, here — and click here to see the piece Marsha donated and register for the auction.

We asked Marsha to tell us more about Graft Revisited, Morning and her work in general. “’Scapes” is on view in the gallery through September 3.

Can you tell us about the Graft series — how it started, how it’s changed, where it’s headed, and what it’s all about?
Marsha: My Graft series started in 2004 when I had assigned myself a series of 50 18” x 14” paintings. In an effort to resolve the 50, I stacked five on my easel to work them as a unit. The verticality felt right to me and I started to attach the pieces, forming a 70” x 18” rectangle that used the repeating strata. I have continued to use the elongated format for several of my pieces, either vertical or horizontal.

As an abstract painting, how do you think Graft Revisited, Morning fits into the landscape show? What are the essential elements of a landscape?
This piece is all about the horizontal captured in a vertical. The colors are reminiscent of the changes that light creates, so many variations, as every day is unique.

The juror, Jonathan Linton, who selected your painting for the award commented specifically on the color, line, and texture. How do you use color in your work, and how do you select the colors you’ll use for specific paintings?
I am a colorist and work the painting until there is a color resolution, an interaction of color that makes the piece feel alive. I am very intuitive about my selections of color and let my senses take over for selections and variations. I love to take chances with the paint to see how far I can go.

Why do you work with acrylics?
I love the ability to work in layers and acrylics allow that to happen fairly quickly. Also, I am allergic to wonderful oil paint.

What draws you to create abstract work?
It is a language that challenges me.

What mediums and other materials did you use for this painting?
I used Caran D’Ache (water-soluble graphite) for underlying rhythm.

What is your creative process like? How do you know when a painting is complete?
I look at the painting to see if it needs any more, knowing that when I add more I will typically have to engage the work for more than one brush of paint.

Where do you see your work going next, or what are you working on now?
I have started a group of R&B Series paintings and will work them with a softer hand using a more muted approach to the sides and stronger values on the face and possibly reversing that idea. Some of the pieces will be used by the Honfluer Gallery for the (e)merge art fair in October in DC.

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