‘Marlene Lowden is a painter, a yoga instructor and a teacher, student and lover of the arts.
We’re very excited to be exhibiting her work this month and to have her expertise during our Artist-in-Residence program, our February Family Day and our International Women’s Day event. Find out more about her start as an artist, her style and details about her most recent project below!
HER PATH TO THE ARTS
For as long as she can remember, Marlene was “always an arty kid.” She used to paint with her father, watching the Joy of Painting with Bob Ross. The excitement she felt was unlike anything else. “Being able to make a mountain or a cloud, that’s magic,” which only spurred her love of art and painting.
Growing up in the 80s, it was impossible to ignore the growth of film and television in media and everyday life. When she was in high school, a teacher partnered with a family-run cable company to create a community channel that was run by the students. She took part in the broadcasting courses that helped students learn every part of the medium and create their own live television show. From the hands-on experience with the gear to the importance of composition, light and visual storytelling, these courses taught her so much about film and later informed her work as a painter.
She went into broadcasting because, at that point, “art wasn’t really a career and wasn’t on my radar. I didn’t know any practicing artists that were making a living, but with television, it was a new thing and an opportunity for a career and to make money.” Even after many years working in the field, painting was always something that she was drawn to, taking classes in different styles and methods, and eventually she decided to make it her priority.
For Marlene, she defines the starting of her career as an artist “when I began sharing my art with people, which was about 15 years ago. I wanted to have people connect with it, and start a dialogue.”
HER GROWTH AND CHANGE INTO ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONISM
Marlene started painting realistically and it wasn’t until her early thirties that she started to play with the idea of abstraction.
One day while driving her children home at a particularly difficult time in her life, an image for a self-portrait struck her. “It was very weird, I got this image in my head that was a self-portrait with elements of The Scream and a jack-in-the-box and I just had to paint it frantically.”
This was a huge turning point for Marlene where she started to play with images in her dreams and explored more with abstraction. Much like with film, with abstract painting you’re not working on just one plane of creation. There are so many factors that play together. “You have to put limits on yourself and be really in tune with what you’re creating because it has to balance between what it is channelling within you versus what it is communicating to audiences.”
For Marlene, abstraction was also a natural next step since it “requires knowing the rules to know how to break them.” There is so much colour, transformation and an endless number of places to explore with abstraction.
INFLUENCES AND BLIND CONTOUR HOMAGE
Her love of abstraction and her fascination with women’s history brought her to her most recent painting series, Blind Contour Homage. Lowden studied the work of under-recognized female Canadian artists to provide the base for each piece and then she recreated their paintings with her own marks and style. She wanted to recognize the women who were pushing back against the more male-dominated world they existed in with their art.
These women of the abstract expressionist movement like Joan Mitchell, Helen Frankenthaler, Hortense Gordon and Marcell Ferron, continue to be key influences for Marlene and in some ways they feel like “great aunties” to her as she has grown to love and adore them. She also has a special place in her heart for Marc Chagall’s work.
Marlene also belongs to Thrive Art Studios, which has “hundreds of women from all over the world who work in different mediums and styles.” This supportive network inspires her in both her art and her personal life, and Marlene loves “hearing about their celebrations and their struggles.”
BEST PRACTICES IN ART
Like with every artist, Marlene has her own unique style and approach to her work. She loves to paint big! And to “have it laid out around me. I need a lot of energy and momentum to start.” Because she works with oil paints on large canvases, she often is working on four paintings at the same time. She finds that every piece ends up informing the other and time away from one helps her figure out how to approach it with fresh eyes.
For Marlene, she believes “art is a form of autobiography. It is rooted in your collection of experiences and that creates that work.” Her advice to anyone starting as an artist, with any kind of art, is to “keep doing it, keep showing up,” and to “find your people that you can chat with and who will give you feedback with grace.”
With art, and with life, Marlene believes you “have to trust your heart and intuition and find out what is important to you.” Discover what she calls your “precious priorities” and take whatever steps, big or small, to make those happen.
With every step she’s taken and the different things Marlene’s done, “everything has led me to where I am now, and I look at 2020 as moving forward.” We’re looking forward to 2020 with her.
Marlene’s exhibition Blind Contour Homage will be at Place des Arts from February 14 – March 12. On the 14th there will be an opening night reception where you can meet with her and our other exhibitors to discuss their work from 7:00 – 9:00 pm. You can find out more about this exhibit at www.herartstory.com.
On February 16, she will be at our Family Day event helping guide one of our art activities.
On March 8, Marlene is hosting an International Women’s Day event that expands on her Blind Contour Homage series. Find out more about it here.
Marlene she co-hosts an art and yoga retreat in Spain called Open Your Art with fellow painter Marleen Vermeulen.