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Fearless Nature with Marilyn Hunt
BC artist Marilyn Hunt's creative expression focuses on the small, often unnoticed details of nature. She actively seeks the beauty in the everyday and her interest lies in visually sharing this with her viewers to facilitate an engagement with the organic world.
Marilyn primarily creates Mixed Media paintings using acrylics, oils, wax, and graphite. Her quest in exploring new products is to create bold textured surfaces that best represent the message from nature she wishes to convey.
Watch Marilyn as she express her Fearless Nature in the video above and read the full exclusive article below.
Interested in the products used in Fearless Nature ?
Opus Legato Brushes
Golden Gel Mediums
Golden Heavy Body Acrylics
Golden Artist Fluid Acrylics
Liquitex Gloss Medium/Varnish
Art Arch Willow Charcoal
FW Acrylic Ink
The Nature of Exploration
Opus: How would you describe your visual style?
Marilyn Hunt: I lean towards an impressionist style. It’s very painterly and I paint a lot from the true colours right out of the tubes. I don’t do my whole palette then go at it. I just mess around with a lot of different things as I am going, all the while trying to be as free as I can with my impression of what I am trying to express on canvas.
O: Why is nature so prominent in your work?
MH: What I have learned about nature is everything that a tree, a plant, or a flower will ever be is in the seed. I find that very fascinating and I didn’t realize I was so interested in origins or in the history of what’s going on underground until I started painting. The actual exploring of natures messages is my main focus. In all the glamor we have around us it’s hard to find the lessons in simplicity and that is what I try to convey.
O: Describe your process from idea - to canvas - to completion.
MH: For me, the journey of a canvas is a message from nature that I feel compelled to bring to the public. I like to magnify the message that natures bringing, which to me is versatility, resilience, and persistence. It’s been a self-discovery to see what I do like to express on canvas and I found that I really like to explore the subject I am painting. It can take a lot of time and sometimes the preparation is the most prominent in my workflow. I will take photos of my subject then I'll do either a photo transfer onto canvas or I’ll zoom into a certain aspect of the photo. I’ve never been one to paint just a pretty picture or to paint a subject right from a photo. My process takes a little more time because I have to work out problems as I go.
O: How does researching and exploring your subject matter help your creative process?
MH: As I create, I’m adding knowledge of my subject and knowledge about different products. This helps me figure out what I can add together and what I can use to create texture that will best represent my subject. My process does get a little crazy sometimes as I am constantly repressing the fear of making a mistake. But in the end it’s just about working beyond that and finding out those secrets of when to stop and when to keep going.
O: What type of mediums and tools do you enjoy using?
MH: I work with Golden acrylics and if I am working with acrylics I will use gels. I usually use Golden's Regular or Soft Gel Matte because I don’t necessarily want to create gloss right off the bat. I’ll also use Clear Tar Gel and Self Leveling Clear Gel depending on what effect I want. I also add different organic materials or found objects to add texture. With oil painting I use Cold Wax Medium and Bees Wax to do some encaustic work. I really enjoy pouring things on and blowing things around so I use squirt bottles a lot. I’ve also used different kitchen tools like cheese graters or strainers to create different textures. If I am working with a subject it more or less calls for certain products. So if it’s water that I am painting then I’m going to be freer using watery products and letting things drip and run.
O: Why do you enjoy incorporating organic material into your work?
MH: Because I love that the living material so much. It can be a delicate procedure because you can border on making it crafty or tacky. It’s using it in an artistic way and going the long route by putting it into gel and making sure that all of it is a bit accidental. So I make sure I’ve explored and really studied the material before I use it.
O: Why do you enjoy working with multiple mediums?
MH: I am an artist who needs a lot of visual stimulation and variety in different areas of my life. Instead of just being a potter, or a painter, or a sculpture I can try numerous techniques and bring versatility and variety of interest to my paintings. I think your subject calls for the right medium and the right surface. Sometimes I am working with a lot of different gels, pouring water on to it, using wax, graphite, or gold leaf, but it all depends on the subject matter. This keeps me exploring and I think that satisfies the part of my nature that likes to jump around to different things.
O: What challenges have you had working with so many different materials?
MH: The biggest challenge is to make sure it works. Do not put something on because you like a feather or because you like the texture of something. It has to work on your painting and it might not work at all. One mistake a lot of artists make is to give to much information. Sometimes just a simple line drawing can be enough and can have a big impact. It can be a challenge to make sure that you're not trying to cover the fact you have fallen short on your composition and you’re trying to compensate by throwing a bunch of texture in. If you are really in tuned with the subject then the mediums that come to mind are going to harmonize with it. Having your drawing skills and the foundational basics are so important because then that doesn’t stop the painting from speaking to you and telling you what’s going to work.
O: How do you ensure longevity in your work when using numerous mediums and found objects?
MH: By using quality products that I know are going to stand through the decades of time. I use a good canvas, a good gesso, and start with good paints to make sure the products are of the highest quality. I will coat it with varnish after to protect it from UV rays and I will also coat the found objects with gels to make sure there rock hard. This is an investment into fine art, so I always keep that in mind because the buyer is going to want to enjoy it for their lifetime. However, if something does fall off it's all part of the art. If your clients know you used good products and a little piece of moss falls off, it's not the end of the world. To me the value is your idea.
O: How important is it for you to experiment with different mediums?
MH: If I don’t experiment then I’m not going to explore and discover things that I can use in my work. As an artist you’re always picking up information and that may be from somebody who is in the music world or even somebody that’s doing computer work. Our ears are in tuned to what our interests are so I do pick up a lot of information, which then inspires me to try new things. As much as I’d like to be wild and do whatever I wanted in a painting there are principles of composition that I must follow. Once I get to the place of deciding what products to add I’ve already worked out that the composition is good, that I like my contrast and negative space. Trying a new technique or adding a found object is like the icing on the cake, it’s the fun part.
O: How to do you ensure you follow through with your ideas when dealing with such a variety of mediums and subject matters?
MH: I try to carry my camera with me while I am out so if I do see something I like I can have a reference for later. For example, I had a need to paint crows but never had my camera when I saw big crow parties happening. It took quite a few years before I finally did have my camera on me and was at the right place at the right time. I snapped a whole bunch of pictures and I painted crows for a couple months and felt satisfied. Sometimes you have an idea and the desire to paint it and in the end you will have to paint it to be truly satisfied. As I get older I don't want to have the same ideas I have now. So I try to reach my goals when it comes to ideas that really inspire me.
O: What do you do if one of your pieces does not turn out during your process?
MH: Some mistakes are critical and past redoing, but some can be saved. For example, I did a large painting and it had a very critical error in the composition. One of the main flowers was dead center and it was just wrong. So I found 9 different places on the canvas that I loved just as they were. I cut them out, reapplied them onto board, and put it all back together in a jumbled format. The film industry ended up buying that for the first season of Hanna Montana. So if a painting does not turn out then it’s just about pushing it a little bit further. To not be afraid and to say, “Ok, I love this piece but it’s either got to be cut up or fixed in some way.” If you love the piece enough you can find some part of it that can be reused. But you also have to know when it’s not going to work and time to strap it to the top of the car and take it to a burning barrel.
O: Why do you create?
MH: I thought I would be satisfied just having a house full of paintings and having my work out there. But as an artist you always want to share your work and I think that is the driving force with me. I just feel more and more tormented by my paintings and my studio if it’s being neglected. If I walk by it and look in I feel like apologizing to it. The end of the journey in all my paintings is when somebody else sees it and loves it. That’s when I am fully satisfied. It’s this desire that forces me to go down avenues to gain knowledge and skill. The desires to create, express, and share my work.
For more of Marilyn's artwork visit artbymarilynhunt.com