When local painter Marissa Vogl picked up her brush in 2009, it had been 10 years since she had made a stroke. After a decade working in sales, the Montana State University grad with a bachelor’s in fine art was nervous to get back to her longtime passion. Returning to the canvas became a meditation in letting go of self-doubt and embracing her own evolution as an artist, she says. Today, her landscapes, still lifes, and more look at home on the walls of Michael Mitchell gallery, and she’s cultivating an international array of collectors.
Out in the open: I recently participated in a plein air workshop, and that has changed everything—my colors, composition, and process. I used to take 100 photographs only to get them home and be uninspired, but now I spend hours doing a single case study in the field. Out there I can paint a poppy from any angle I want, pulling light and color from all directions, and become endlessly inspired. I’m not limited to images on my computer screen.
Mountain roots: Originally, I am from Montana. I moved down here in 2008 to be with my husband. Growing up, my family spent the weekends at our cabin in the mountains. There was no running water or electricity. I think that painting in the open air holds me to these roots.
Impressionistic, expressionistic: I use a lot of very strong brushstrokes and colors in my landscapes. Some people say my work is very feminine yet bold, and I like that because I think that is what women are about. It’s impressionistic and expressionistic at the same time. People usually end up buying a piece because of a feeling that it evokes, not because it portrays a place they have been.
On location: My husband and I are raising our two kids out near John’s Island, so I paint a lot of marsh and field scenes. I think that my palate-knife edges and heavy brush strokes are a bit more guttural than traditional Lowcountry landscapes. But for me, it’s all about painting raw feeling and trying to capture energy and soul.
Color blocking: The first thing I do is wash my canvas with a vibrant burnt orange color. I like how the warm red oxide base makes the whole scene richer. I do a quick sketch, and then I use a palate knife to start color-blocking with reds, yellows, purples, and greens. It starts out pretty abstract, but then the image comes to life.
Best compliment: One of my collectors called me and said, “Thank you, Marissa, for painting my spirit place.” That is exactly what I want my work to do—to take you to a place where you feel the strongest and the happiest.