How did you get started and then develop your career?
Mark Fehlman: I started painting after many years of looking at the paintings in a gallery two doors down from my office. It also happened that there was a huge Sorrolla show in Balboa Park that made my head spin. I went to see it several times. I love the sense of light in his work. The energy of his brush stroke and the rich color palette used to communicate the Spanish sunlight and deep shadows filled with reflected light, made his figures and landscapes come alive.
I was an architect with a successful 30-year practice. After three years of lessons I decided to give it up to create a second career as an artist. It was a wonderful decision that has completely changed my life. I sought out the best teachers, went to shows like the California Art Club Gold Medal and the Laguna Beach Plein Air Painting Invitational, read instructional books, and worked every day at getting better.
How do you find inspiration?
We just got back from a trip to the Texas hill country. I was so inspired, because everywhere that I looked I saw things to capture in a painting. When you travel with an artist’s eye, you see the beauty that allows you to savor and really notice what you are looking at. It is not just a pretty vista, but you see patterns and color combinations that you notice and memorize. An artist develops “super powers” to see beauty and capture and communicate the feeling and sense of a place.
What is the best thing about being an artist?
For me, the best thing about being an artist is the community of artists I have had the pleasure to work with and be inspired by. We are all trying to become better at our craft by learning from others. There is no competition or jealousy, just camaraderie. In some ways, we are traveling gypsies in pursuit of finding our muse…and having lots of fun together.
I also love the craft of painting. In architecture, my designs were built by someone else. With painting it is a multidimensional puzzle that you design and assemble. Then there is the process of finding a home for each painting and the enjoyment of a relationship with a collector who wants that painting to be a guest in their home. The whole thing brings richness and connection to my life.
Who do you collect?
My wife Anne and I have a wonderful collection of paintings. They include works by Ray Roberts, John Asaro, Robert Goldman, Scott Burdick, Carolyn Anderson, Johanna Harmon, Marcia Burtt, Michael Malm, Glenn Dean, Russell Case, and Jeremy Lipking to name a few. The walls are filled, and we love it that way.
You have a wonderful new instructional video out? Tell us more.
I was asked to create a teaching video for Streamline. I saw it as a great opportunity to crystalize my thoughts on how to get better as an artist. Compositional Design is the foundation for every masterpiece. In the video, I talk about each principle that goes into a well-conceived design. You can see a preview of this video HERE.
To see more of Mark’s work, visit: www.markfehlman.com