Montgomery, Texas (near Houston), USA
Mediums: Mixed media, pastel, acrylic, watercolor, collage, charcoal, pen and ink
Style: Abstract, abstract realism, “imaginart”
I am a retired educator, living in the forests of Montgomery, Texas, and finally pursuing my passion as an artist. When I retired from the schools, I continued to practice private counselling, but this gave me my long-awaited opportunity to go back to school to study art. Since then I have opened up an entire new life in the art world. I have experienced a whole new sphere with wonderful new friends and have ignited my zest for something new in my life.
Starburst © Marilyn Balke-Lowry: This is one of my pieces in my galaxy collection. I have always been fascinated with the star and planets, and this is my expression of a nebula, utilizing mixed media, including mica and powdered paint. I love to create new looks. I love to create new looks.
I have always loved creating, but because I “colored outside the lines”, I was never encouraged to pursue art when I was in school. Instead, I pursued the field of interior and fashion design and tried to stay between the lines, even though it was very difficult to stay interested in conventional styles. Every chance I got, I strayed from the traditional and pushed the edge in color and design.
How long have you thought of yourself an artist?
Unfortunately, I listened to others who said I had no talent for art when I was in school, so I had to wait until later in life when I could consider myself an artist despite my previous influence.
What are you trying to convey to onlookers through your art?
I want to convey appreciation of color, motion and offer others an opportunity to see whatever they can imagine in my art. Sometimes the subjects are more obvious, but other times I love to hear what they envision. I want them, above all, to have fun! I love bright, exciting and a little funky!
Symbols © Marilyn Balke-Lowry: This is more structured piece using the concept of sacred geometry with some of the Aztec symbolism combined with a labyrinth. Circling the labyrinth gives an opportunity to meditate.
Can you explain about your creative process?
My work often starts with one concept and ends up totally different. I may have a plan for the composition, or I may just begin with shapes and colors. Often my medium will change as I go, as well. This leads to many of my pieces becoming mixed media in mid-stream. I am a flexible person and do not like to have forced requirements for my outcome, and if I do have a required goal for a show, I like to give it an unusual twist, as by reversing the position of the object or using unique coloring. I have to keep myself interested in order to feel that my audience will be also.
What inspires you to paint?
Nature, objects that have been discarded (I love to make something extraordinary out of the ordinary). Much of my art is “green”. I also love to see others’ works of art…of any medium. I am inspired by creations of others, whether they are realistic or abstract. I love anything colorful as well.
I belong to a number of art organizations, and I have shown my work in exhibits they have had in public buildings, galleries and other locations. I have shown my work in a number of cities and have won prizes and awards as well as entry in juried shows in Houston, Conroe, The Woodlands, Austin, Galveston and New York City.
Tatters © Marilyn Balke-Lowry: This is one of my favorite abstracts using bright colors on a black background. The paint is torn and represents the strength of color even though well-worn. Many times I use peeled acrylic paint in my works. I visualized flags from torn countries, still staying strong.
How have you sold your artworks?
I have sold a number of my artworks, usually as a result of shows and commissions.
What do you do to promote art online?
I have a website and a Facebook and Twitter presence, as well as a presence on the websites of the organizations to which I belong. I do need to spend more time getting my work more visible. I have a wonderful friend who has assisted me in getting my work online, and I also have a part-time agent in my local area that has helped me gain visibility in local restaurants.
I am influenced by Picasso, Renoir, Magritte, Manet and many of the old masters. I spend time looking at others’ work.
Top O’ the Evenin’ © Marilyn Balke-Lowry: This piece was inspired by a bird across the street on a beautiful sunset evening. The work is done in pastel and ink and was quite tricky to accomplish without smearing. I can just see the bird greeting us with, “Top O’ the Evenin’, Folks”.
Please tell us about other artists you admire.
I admire a number of our local artists and have taken lessons from several. Among the local names are Liz Hill, Martha Barr and Lois Blackburn. They are all wonderful in different ways. Liz is a wonderful abstract figure and landscape artist who combines her work with collage. Martha is an outstanding oil painter that has mastered color in some of her abstract works in a way that is just mesmerizing. And Lois has so much talent in so many mediums that it is amazing to me. Her delicate florals and landscapes transport me into the piece itself. I speak of these ladies since I have more experience studying their styles, and they inspire me to stretch to styles I never considered as my interests.
Please tell us about some interesting events in your life.
I have traveled extensively during my life. My sister and I owned a tour company when we were working in the schools, and during the summers we organized trips overseas to many countries. It was not easy to afford travel on teachers’ salaries, so we created our own way by taking others. My sister researched the history and I planned the events. Our trips became so popular that many of the same people went with us every year. We always visited out of the way places and had events that were only reserved for special parties. One was a cocktail party at Parliament House in London, hosted by one of the members of the House of Commons. We also hosted parties before the trips with foods of the countries and information about the locations we were touring. We had a great time! Since then I have continued traveling as often as possible and have a store of photographs that will allow me to paint for several lifetimes.
Volcanic Heat © Marilyn Balke-Lowry
Have you had anything annoying said to you about your art?
I really believe that art appreciation is a very personal experience and do not expect that everyone will love all art. I have learned to appreciate critiques, and I think everyone likes to hear compliments, and I always try to remember that even when judges do not see my pieces as worthy of a show, it is from their perspective. I have had the same judges select my pieces for one show and give me awards and not select even one for other shows.
I guess throughout my life the comment that I was not good at art had the most influence on me as a young child, and led me to postpone my artistic endeavors for many years that I could have been enjoying them. As a result, I am critical of teachers who do not appreciate every child’s works of art. It is very sad for a child to be discouraged by the words of a teacher who does not realize the effect of their comments.
Do you have any regrets in your artistic journey?
Only that I listened to others’ opinions and did not begin my art earlier in my lifetime.
Do you have any future plans?
I plan to pursue art for as long as I can hold a paint brush. I see myself in more exhibits, selling more work, and establishing an effective online presence. I also plan to attend more workshops and classes in combination with my travels.
What advice do you have for emerging artists?
Don’t believe anyone who tries to discourage you. If you feel in your heart that art is calling you, listen and go for it! Find one or two supportive people and listen to them. My sister has always been my greatest cheerleader, even when I did not believe in myself. Join a local art group and get your work out there for others to see and enjoy. There are others out there that are in your same situation with a house full of paintings they have never shown or sold. You will never regret it!!
Marilyn Balke-Lowry - Imaginart
Montgomery, Texas (near Houston), USA