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From The Studio of Patti Mann

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Get to know Third & Wall artist Patti Mann! Patti was born in Seattle, Washington but grew up in Los Angeles, California. She also lived in Colorado, Tennessee, and Ohio, and currently resides near Buffalo, New York.

Patti has been drawing on every available surface ever since she could hold a crayon, and has always known that she was first and foremost an artist. She majored in Fine Art at Santa Monica College in Santa Monica, CA, and attended the Otis Parsons Institute of Art in Los Angeles, but family obligations drew her onto a different path for many years. She never stopped doing art while she raised a family and worked a variety of jobs, including (but not limited to!) data entry in a cancer research institute, a horse groom for a well-known Malibu riding stable, a racehorse hot walker at Hollywood Park Racetrack, receptionist, executive assistant, production artist and marketing manager. For the last 16 years Patti has been a Production & Creative Specialist with Third & Wall Art Group, of which she was a founding member.

Patti’s preferred media currently are watercolor, graphite, and pen & ink, but she loves to explore mixed media, acrylics, and occasionally oils. She has exhibited her work in group and solo exhibitions in the Nashville, Tennessee area. Commissions keep her busy, and her works appear in numerous private collections. She has illustrated the book “A Journey Worth Taking: A Collection of Animal Stories” by Norma Vermeer.

What do you first do when you get to the studio in the morning?

Since my studio is actually my front room, I make some coffee, get some atmospheric music going on Pandora (usually lo-fi, Celtic or Viking music), do a few warm-up stretches (not really), brush my cat, walk my dog, throw some peanuts outside for the squirrels, waste time on social media, and when all other procrastinatory options have been exhausted, I start making art, usually just minutes before I have to go to work…

How many paintings do you work on at a time?

I always have several paintings going at once, in addition to several that I started years ago sitting unfinished and lonely in a dark, forgotten corner. Some day, some day.

Do you have a dream project that you would like to work on?

I have far too many dream projects. I dream of illustrating children’s books, painting giant glorious murals, painting wondrous things on wood furniture, painting portraits, and creating rich, compelling horse, botanical, insect, closed world and animal paintings that exist somewhere between realism and invention.

If you could paint with anyone, who would it be?

I would love to paint with Third & Wall artist Liz Jardine so that I could wonder at and absorb some of her incredible techniques and skills, rich artistic vision and astounding prolificness. I’m also currently into Charles E. Burchfield (b. 1893 – d.1967), a Western New York watercolor painter, who painted amazing, interpretive watercolors of his beloved Nature, and of daily life. He didn’t aim for photographic realism, but strove instead to capture the emotion and feeling of his chosen scene. His style is unique and unmistakable.

What’s your favorite way of generating ideas and inspiration?

I love to get outside into Mother Nature and get really up close and personal with leaves, bugs, flowers, and all the mysterious macro-worlds that exist outside that no one ever notices. Sometimes I browse Instagram and Pinterest for ideas – there’s an incredible treasure trove of art out there that offers inspiration and motivation. If I’m feeling really stuck I will sometimes draw from one of the many drawing prompt lists available online to lubricate my imagination. I occasionally take online painting and creativity tutorials (but I never finish them).

“Art classes, museum and gallery visits, and meditation are other tools that help me access the great inspiration bank. The best way is to simply quiet one’s mind, engage in mindfulness and the wonder of Right Now, and open up to the vast source within and without.”

How has your art evolved over time?

I’ve evolved from tighter realism to a more flowing, intuitive painting style that still incorporates a good underdrawing and some representational aspects. About ⅔ representational and about ⅓ transitional!

What do you like most about your work?

I like that my work evokes not just a visual object, be it an animal or a person or a flower, but the essence and life of that object. Simple, yet it speaks.

What is one word that best describes your style?

My style varies depending on the type of art I’m making, but generally I’m a stickler for a good underdrawing, which is the framework for the painting that fleshes it out. If the drawing isn’t good, the painting isn’t going to look right. Currently with my watercolors I’m combining realism with a more loose and painterly flair, and I’ve been experimenting with adding metallic foils to my watercolors.

Is there an idea you would like to explore?

Something I’ve been thinking about is how miraculous urban wildlife is – the everyday animals we ignore daily that live and survive around us in abundance. If you slow down and simply observe, you will see the beauty, struggle and fight for life in each creature – the glorious iridescent neck feathers of the common city pigeon, the agility and grace of the squirrel, the cleverness and intelligence of the raccoon, the affability of the adorable opossum, the industriousness of the tiny vole…I want to find a way to paint and honor those urban animals that many of us consider pests, ignore, or even hate. I have some ideas. Now to find the time!

What is your favorite time of day to paint?

I’m definitely an early-morning person, that is my most productive and creative time. I work a full-time job during the day so an hour or two in the morning is my most precious time I can set aside to create, experiment, and dream.

Do you ever get “stuck” on a piece? If so, what do you do?

I usually just put it away and forget about it for a while, and work on other projects. I can usually come back to it days or weeks later with a pair of sparkling fresh eyes. Watercolors are especially touchy – you have to be much more careful with them, unlike the freedom of painting with acrylics – if you go too far with applying watercolor pigment it’s harder to reverse and alter it like you can with malleable and quick-drying acrylics. If this happens, I usually just end up cutting up the paper for scraps or recycling it.

What is up next on your easel?

I’m pondering creating some fish, bird and other animal paintings and incorporating gold, copper and silver metallic leafing. I’m also experimenting with some  yoga figuratives, and more contemporary nude figures. Also, I’m percolating some fun juvenile art.

I’m open to more ideas – what do you want to see me paint for your projects or markets? Let me know in the comments!

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