Mary, Mary, quite contrary,
How does your Garden grow?
With color beams, and water color streams
and ideas that often flow. - Kaos Blac, 2011
Mary Knowlton is a self described "abstract painter and punk rocker" trying to find her way in this crazy world by any means necessary, her means of do so is through her art. She paints daily and exercises her ability's to convey what she's feeling through her art. When I can across her work I wanted to asked her a few questions to try to get to know the Mary behind the work, so here's Mary.
Kaos Blac: Tell me a little about yourself.
Mary Knowlton: That's a hard question to answer for me right now. I kind of feel like I'm in flux. The most honest way to put it is, I'm a painter and a punk rocker trying to find my place. Life is tough. No one ever prepares you for the moment you realize that you don't fit in to the way the world says things are supposed to be. Artistic aspirations don't count for much when you have no job and no health insurance. Things can get pretty grim.
Kaos Blac: I can agree with you on the promise of aspirations in the face of lack of Job and health-care, I'm at that point myself, For me I see it as a transitional period. My Transitional summer if you will to explore myself and learn more about others like yourself.
Mary Knowlton: Really? That seems kind of similar to my situation. I graduated college last May, started working at an art museum, then overnights at an emergency shelter for kids(ages birth to 17yrs). The only thing I was really doing throughout that time was a little bit of painting. I wasn't even playing music anymore. I saved up my money until I couldn't stand being there anymore. Come March I quit my job and drove to California-twice. Then I moved to Austin and lived in a punk house until the lack of air conditioning killed me. Texas summers are brutal. Now I don't what I'm doing. I blew a lot of money staggering around in the heat, but I have just enough for one more run, so I might have to do that. Just feels like there's nothing here for me anymore.
Transitional period, I like that. For me it's just bumming around. Hopefully I end up somewhere good.
Kaos Blac: Your work, to me, is very abstract and expressive as if you cant contain yourself and you have to get whats inside of you into a medium, in your own words can you describe what it is that drives you to create.
Mary Knowlton: You're completely right. I can't contain myself. That's actually a problem I've been working on. Once I get started painting I just enjoy so much that even though I know a painting is done and I should leave it alone, I keep going and then mess it up. It's just because I like to paint. I like the act of painting and when I run out of room and don't have anything else to paint it's hard for me to stop so I just keep going and building it up. A lot of times I will actually paint something and go over it until it's completely unrecognizable or I'll just paint the whole thing black and start over.
I create because it makes me feel better. It's kind of like therapy to me. If I'm feeling really heavy or have a lot of things that are stressing me out, the act of painting makes me feel lighter. If I'm really anxious about something, it's good for me to get it out. When you have a lot of intense feelings it gives you something else to focus on while your mind works out those thoughts. I paint just because I like it too. It's not always because there's something wrong. I've always painted ever since I was a little kid. I even dream about painting. I guess it makes me happy. I get kind of depressed if I go along time without painting. I can feel the difference.
For the most part my art is pretty abstract unless someone specifically asks me to paint them something, but I've stopped that because I hate it. It takes the enjoyment out of painting to me. I don't paint to follow some stiff set of rules that says I have to show things a certain way. One of the main reasons I like to paint is I can do whatever I want, period.
I like being able to pick any and every color up and throw it on a canvas. It's fun. Color is a huge part of it to me. I'm really affected by bright colors, they excite me. That's why I use so much dayglo and neon paint. Some of it is even glow in the dark. I'm very much into Hans Hofman, Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, and Jules Olitski. Also Jonas Gerard is my hero. There's so much color in their work, it literally makes me happy to look at it. I know some of that comes out in my stuff too.
Kaos Blac: Where do you see your work moving towards, being a therapeutic release for you what comes next when you worked out your inner ferocity on canvas?
Mary Knowlton: I don't think the therapeutic aspect of me painting will every go away and I wouldn't want it to. That's not something you can just "work out" and be done with. It's part of you. As long as you're alive there will be things that affect you. I see it as a healthy release.
Ultimately I see myself painting large scale abstracts as a professional. I just don't know how I'm going to get to that point with materials and the cost of living being what they are (especially when people always try to low ball you). Many years from now I can see myself working in my own studio and being able to support myself with my art full time. That's pretty much my dream-to be able to climb out of bed in the morning and spend my days creating these gigantic colorful paintings. If I could get to the point where I don't have to worry about money so much that would be good. It's not very important to me to have my work in galleries or museums, though I was in one show last year. I'm more into seeing it in the homes and offices of regular people. I'm most proud when I see my paintings on the walls of my friends an family. It makes me proud. They're just beautiful to look at.
Kaos Blac: Currently what is your favorite piece you've created, and why does it mean so much to you?
Mary Knowlton: I don't have a favorite. My feelings towards what I make change everyday. Today I don't really like any of my paintings-except this watercolor I made for my friend yesterday (July 5th 2011).
Kaos Blac: Yeah, I was just looking at this one. It's really serene and cooling. What was the idea/ emotion behind it.
Mary Knowlton: No emotion really. He'd just told me he had $5 bucks in his pocket and wanted to buy a watercolor. He said he wanted it to be all different shades of blue because that's his favorite color. Especially royal blue and deep blue. I used every blue I had in my Crayola watercolor set(lol) and a little black too. I just had the image of it in my head and painted it. I bet it took like 10 min.
The truth of the matter is it never takes me very long to finish a painting. That's why I always end up going overboard and messing it up. I just want to keep going and don't always have a fresh canvas or clean sheet. The bristol board I've been using has helped though. I still have a lot of sheets left.
Kaos Blac: Well it's cool that your turning your art into your business, to a degree, I hope you continue to create and evolve in your art and get out what you need to through the artist method of creation.
Mary Knowlton: Thanks, man. One step at a time lol.
More of Mary Knowlton's work can be seen at the following links:
Mary Knowlton Afropunk page