At the Second Annual Figurative Art Convention & Expo (FACE), Marsha Massih participated in a panel discussion regarding the classical painter Frank Mason (1921–2009).
On Painting Figurative Art
BY MARSHA MASSIH
I started painting because I was intrigued by the idea of interpreting nature with oil paint, visually communicating something of what I felt while painting the subject. Frank Mason helped me to see light and color on forms, whether that be the figure/portrait, the landscape, or the still life. If I am outside painting a landscape, I want the viewer to feel the atmosphere. When I’m painting a figure or portrait, I try to capture a piece of the personality, hoping to evoke a mood. I am drawn to creating a mood, painting a new world within the existing one.
I always dreamed of being an artist but wasn’t really encouraged by my parents, who felt that a professional degree would be a more secure route. So although I traveled Europe in my early 20s internalizing the beauty of the art all around me, it wasn’t until right after graduate school (I studied international affairs) that I began to take my art seriously. I took evening painting classes at the Art Students League and then eventually quit my day job to pursue art full-time. First and foremost was my desire to gain literacy with representational painting and drawing, which required (and continues to require) many hours of practice from live models. Attending Frank Mason’s landscape workshop every June in Vermont for five years helped me see and start to understand atmosphere, color, and light as observed in nature.
I am interested in creating with oil paint a world where mood, color, movement, light, and atmosphere are felt and experienced. My impetus for painting is not really conceptual; it has more to do with the visceral pleasure of expressing feeling and the spiritual energy inherent in nature. That’s the vision. That said, I have recently been thinking quite a lot about how to explore (with paint) my Persian and European heritage. I’m experimenting with higher-keyed color and patterns found in Persian art. We’ll see where that exploration goes!