Artist Interview: Marcia Perry

posted on October 27, 2016 by
Artist Marcia Perry Epic thanks to YAC’s very own co-founder Marcia Perry for her wonderful interview! Find more of Marcia's gorgeous, whimsical, and intricate work at

Tell us about the subject matter/content of your work. My work ranges from airbrushed murals, paintings, product and children’s book illustrations, pastels, functional porcelain sculpture and mobiles. Most of my imagery is nature based, often with imaginary and spiritual overtones, much of it with a touch of whimsy and magical realism. I like the pretty truths.

artist marcia perry halo project

photo by Amber Renee

Tell us about how you work/your process. With airbrush paintings I begin by designing a drawing with black colored pencil on tracing paper. When the drawing is done I enlarge it to scale by either a copy machine or a projector. I adhere the copies of the drawings with rubber cement or draw directly if projecting on my mask medium, which is adhesive backed plastic shelf liner. Depending on the complexity of the design I will make two to eight masks from the drawing. Using the drawn masks and a blank sheet of shelf liner under it, I cut the portions out of each mask to be painted, hanging on to all the elements /cutouts. (positive inner masks). I then adhere the positive blank masks (from foreground to background) on the surface I am painting on. After I choose and mix my palette, I begin airbrushing the background through to the foreground, using the masks I have cut to surround and define each element of the painting. I cut and adhere the drawn masks when I am ready to airbrush that element of the composition. It is a technique I concocted on my own, through a lot of trial and error. Sometimes I will use similar masking with pastel. When I am working in porcelain I hand build the objects and often airbrush the glaze onto them. Artist Marcia Perry love creates peace

What medium(s) do you work with? My main mediums of choice include: Airbrush acrylic on canvas, walls, wood panel and silk/linen board, and pastels on silk board and paper. I sculpt with porcelain to make both functional and non-functional objects. I also make mobiles out of natural, porcelain and found objects.

About how many hours/day/week do you work? On a good week, I get in 20 hours in my own studio. My responsibilities at YAC definitely take the lion share of my time. There is nothing more important to me creatively than YAC. We have enabled so much art to be created and so many young artists to be launched.

How do you navigate the art world? For forty five years, I have navigated the “art world” as a working freelance artist in fine art, illustrations, murals and fine crafts, as well as teaching what I’ve learned. I believe that following one’s own path of improvement and experience leads to success. It is an individual pursuit. I don’t think there are any set rules or formulas. We dwell in a world of infinite possibilities. It is up to each of us to identify and design our path. artist Marcia Perry cruising

What is your definition of success? My definition of success is maintaining my integrity and continuity as an artist; and living a loving life.

What inspires you? What do you read, listen to, look at, watch, eat, smell…? Nature, spiritual beliefs, people’s souls, bravery, poetry, art and all forms of love inspire me. My art is my love made visible.

What else would you do if you weren’t an artist (or what do you do when you aren’t making art)? When I am not doing art, besides mentoring young artists and tending to YAC’s needs, I like to garden, ride my bike, explore and travel. I also read a lot and love film. And of course, I love being with my family and friends any chance I get.artist marcia perry abalone teapot

What are you working on now? I am working on completing illustrations for another children’s book that I started years ago called “The Panther and the Bird of Paradise”. It is a wordless picture book about a predator and prey becoming allies. I am also making mobiles and occasional porcelain pieces. I am trying to get up the courage to do another big painting. First need the vision!

How do you get yourself through dry spells, self-esteem fluctuations, deep shyness, general low periods, inertia? I get my self through dry spells in various ways- helping others be creative, gratitude, meditation, exercise, affirmations, and recognizing that everything creative has a gestation period. As I age, I have gotten more patient with myself, and the creative process. At YAC I am surrounded by it!

Tell us about your education and background. Self taught? Mentors? Art college? Lessons? Internet? Combo? When I was a kid I was always making something, but it really never occurred to me that I could be an artist. I grew up in a very loving family, one of four sisters. I went to college and earned my degree in Early Childhood Development and Education. I taught kindergarten during my early twenties, and it was then, that I began doing art professionally. My Eastern Philosophy professor, who was an expert in palm reading (of all things!) read my palm and insisted that I was an artist and must begin painting. I was 20 when I launched into visual art. I taught myself how to airbrush. I was interested in making wearable art at the time, selling my work at craft fairs in Colorado. I created my first mural in 1976. My first one-woman show was in Glenwood Springs CO in 1977. I had many mentors along the way-my first was Betty Lou Almon, my best friend’s mother, who was always making something and often invited me to join her. She is an accomplished watercolorist at age 88 and still continues to inspire me to be both creative and kind. When I was 25, an art professor, artist Max Winkler, who I took some courses from and modeled for, also was a mentor to me. He persuaded me not to go to art school because he believed I was already on my way as an artist, with my own style and competency in my chosen medium. For me, at the time, that was, excellent and pivotal advice. My various studio partners in my twenties influenced my creativity and work ethic. The work of the artists, Georgia O’Keefe, Judy Chicago and Maxfield Parrish were and are among the most influential and inspiring to me, along with countless others. More than anyone, my partner for 36 years and fellow artist, Meg Biddle, has helped me to stay on my path. Her love, support, understanding and artistic knowledge has been fully instrumental in my development as an artist. My daughter Celia’s belief in and love for me gave me a strong will to succeed and to improve as an artist. And finally the YACsters inspire me everyday with their brave selves and their fresh art!artist marcia perry studio

Best advice you ever got? I think some of the best advice is : As artists, our path and our art is as individual and unique as we are; we need to take and do things one by one; to have faith in our souls and our place in the universe; to find and create love and joy in our lives and those around us, every step of the way. We are lucky to be artists. This world needs us.artist marcia perry here on earth

Any feedback on the value of YAC? After 17 years of mentoring more than 700 kids, the value of YAC is apparent daily in the emotional and social safety net it provides; the creativity it encourages and fosters; and the artistic development and dreams it inspires. These young creative artists are valued by YAC’s mentors, by their peers and by the community at large. Youth Arts Collective delivers hope and joy to our current members, our alumni and our greater community. We inspire creativity, kindness and confidence in our local youth through artistic expression and mutual respect. “Do at. Be kind.”

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