'World Famous on ArterNet Art' - Michelle Marra - is our Featured Guest Artist


”Jamboree” 54” x 60” acrylic on canvas

Michelle Marra

Michelle Marra, as well as being an American abstract painter, Michelle describes herself as a “spirited colorist”, a perfect expression of the high level of emotion, energy, and luminosity she imbues into her paintings. So, we were happy when she agreed to our invitation to be here with us today on 
'World Famous on ArterNet Art'
Michelle's acrylic paint and gestural brush strokes create an interplay of seriousness and whimsy. Biomorphic forms and lush color relationships in her paintings are grounded in the natural world, evoking images of wildflower gardens and tangled jungle landscapes. Michelle has a clear love for paint along with color and texture.

ArterNet Art: 
Hi Michelle,  thanks for taking the time to chat with us today. 
As artists, we love these rare insights into other artists lives. Reading their stories helps us with our own daily challenges - to know others have had their trials and have succeeded, is very uplifting. 
The culture of our company - ArterNet Art - is to put a human face to all our members and guest artists.

Our blog series 'World Famous on ArterNet Art' is devoted to exclusive, in-depth interviews with brilliant, professional artists of the day. It is 
tailored with the new, emerging and working artists in mind.
Motivation for this series is to provide rare and valuable insights for all working artists:
• to discover innovative sales ideas and tips - which can easily be incorporated into an artists daily work practice.
• to show simple and proven methods of navigating your way through the intricacies of social media and online art sales.
• From past experience, we understand how new and working artists crave to gain knowledge and learn new insights that will help them in their marketing and online art sales.
This is why we love these chats, so without further ado: Michelle, can you give our readers an idea of your route to becoming an artist?

Michelle Marra: Art was something I took to from an early age. 
 I loved to draw and paint so much that my parents enrolled me in art lessons. I spent every Saturday as far back as I can remember at my little community arts center in Titusville, FL. 
I distinctly remember the smell of charcoal, pastels, and clay and falling in love with it all. I would spend hours on compositions and I didn’t even mind it when it got technical, like learning perspective. 
To this day, I am in awe of my first art teacher. She could produce the most beautiful paintings, yet she had debilitating arthritis in her fingers. 
If she could still enjoy painting with fingers that had a hard time moving, then certainly, so could I!!

'Tides of March' a painting on denim. “64” x 53

ArterNet Art: Have you had to overcome any difficulties or major hurdles on your journey to becoming the successful, established artist we see today?

Michelle Marra:  My art journey has taken a roundabout path. Even though I had an incredible love for art, I had a fear that art wouldn’t pay my bills. I also had an incredible fear of showing my work. 
So I decided to study marketing and fashion merchandising in college. It wasn’t until years later that I built up the nerve to pursue my first love and went back to painting. 
In 2008, I studied traditional oil painting and on a whim, I took a four-day abstract workshop using acrylics. That’s when my whole world exploded! I knew I had finally found what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. 
However, during this time of exploring abstracts, I had also contracted Lyme Disease that had become chronic. I used my painting practice for therapy during that really rough time. 
Looking back now, I see that Lyme Disease was what I needed to get past my fear. My battle with the illness took over four years. There were many days where all I could do was paint water colors while sitting down. Standing up was just too much effort. 
I vowed to myself, that once I got on the other side of the disease, that I would not have any more excuses. 
In 2017, I formed Michelle Marra Studio, LLC and I never looked back. 
I am happy to report that my Lyme Disease is totally behind me and I am as strong as ever.

ArterNet Art: That is indeed a journey. Can you tell us about the medium that you choose to work with and what was it about it that attracted you?

Michelle Marra: I really love the richness of oils, but I am very sensitive to the solvents used. I have found that I can use several acrylic mediums to get the feel of oils. 
I also like the immediacy of acrylics, without any of the toxic chemicals you can get from oils.

ArterNet Art: Do you have a daily routine? Has it always been this way and can you tell our readers how it looks?

Michelle Marra: I go through withdrawal if I go for more than a couple days without painting. I usually start with a color palette in mind and work out the canvas size. 
I love painting large and I’m happiest when there are a couple large canvases in process. I also work in multiples. 
I find that working on several paintings at a time allows me to work freely without making one area of a painting too precious.

ArterNet Art: Can you share some techniques and insights into your process from conception to creation

Michelle Marra: I often say that some paintings paint themselves and some paintings are pure evil! Having said that, I know that some of my favorite paintings are the ones that I had a lot of problems working through. 
 I also tell myself never to give up on a painting. I have never gessoed over a painting with pure white. 
To me, that means you took all that good history away. I like when colors that you normally wouldn’t think of adding peek through the lower layers of a new painting. 
That is when the magic can happen. It’s a process of letting go.

“Jamboree” detail

“Jamboree” - in process, closer to finished.
Can you see some of the previous shapes eking through?

“Jamboree” Insitu. 

ArterNet Art: How has your work developed since you began and how do you see it evolving in the future?

Michelle Marra:
I find that I enjoy working large. I hope to tackle some biggies. My largest so far has been 60” x 70" I would like to explore using raw canvas and more mixed media with acrylics.

ArterNet Art: Is there anything in particular that inspires you to create art?

Michelle Marra:
I am always looking at everything from an artist’s perspective. Whether it be a movie from a unique camera angle to riding my bike and enjoying the scenery.

ArterNet Art: What has been your favourite or most memorable art sale?

Michelle Marra:
Wow. I think all art sales are memorable!! Haha. 
I do not take for granted when someone pays real money to purchase my art. It is such a huge compliment. 
I want my collectors to feel the joy in my paintings for a very long time. That is my goal and that is what I am thinking about in the back of my mind as I am painting. 
I want the love and joy I feel while I am painting to transcend the work.

“Dog Days II” 62” x 55” acrylic on canvas

ArterNet Art: How were you and your business impacted by Covid-19? Has much changed since that time?

Michelle Marra: When Covid-19 started, I was a wreck. I felt for all the people that lost loved ones. 
I also felt for those that were on the edge before Covid-19, so I decided the best way to get through this was to stay busy and help in whatever small way that I could. 
So I painted 8”x 8” paintings to benefit a non-profit, “Hope for the Warriors.” I wanted to help veterans and their families that had been there for us. 
I asked for donations to be sent straight to the non-profit and to just send me a screenshot and I would ship the paintings at my own cost. The idea took off and kept me busy. 
A couple people donated over $1000 for one small painting! And my idea inspired other artists to do a little something too. It really was a win-win during a very difficult time.

During Covid-19, my art business has been as strong as ever. I continue to sell my work and I continue to make more. I count myself extremely lucky.

ArterNet Art:   That was an amazing idea and a wonderful gesture, Michelle, well done.
Do you have any hobbies, sports or interests other than art?

Michelle Marra:
I keep active by bike riding, walking, and practicing yoga. I love to go to art museums, but of course, that slowed down over the last two years. I just saw the Joan Mitchell solo exhibit in San Francisco. 
It was amazing to see so much of her work all in one place. Almost too much to take in within one day!

ArterNet Art: WOW, that would've been wonderful. So, what plans and goals do you have for the future, both creatively and personal?

Michelle Marra:
I plan on painting more and traveling more once we get back to (more) normal. 
 Life is to be lived and I plan on doing a lot of it!

“Pleased as Punch” 36” x 36” Acrylic on canvas

ArterNet Art: Going back to when you first started out and knowing what you know now, what would you do differently and what advice would you give to an aspiring new artist?

Michelle Marra: Get past your fear!! Get out there and meet other artists. Paint a lot of paintings and paint a lot of ugly paintings! It is working through the ugly paintings that you grow.

ArterNet Art: Good advice. Also for our new artists, can you share some tips on how you marketed yourself, when you first started out. What are two or three things you tried that worked amazingly well?

Michelle Marra: I am still trying to figure that out!! Haha. 
I was told early on, that Instagram was important to market my art. Since I am an introvert, I wasn’t thrilled to put myself out there. But with enough pushing and prodding from my artist friends, I decided to post my art journey daily on Instagram. 
Since 2017 I have not missed a day, except for a week in Patagonia in January of 2020. I have also found that making a commitment to posting once daily, I can’t give myself any slack in the studio. 
It inspires me to keep current and keep pushing new work. I now have almost 50,000 active followers and three galleries in the USA and one in London. 
Thank you Instagram!!

ArterNet Art: My word Michelle, that was a  mighty challenge and it shows the depth of your character and very impressive that you stayed the course - and rightly gaining the followers you have.
Do you have any quotes you live by or practice?

Michelle Marra:
Oh my! I have so many art quotes going through my head at any one time. 
Like “Don’t lick the painting,” which is a reminder not to overwork a painting. You don’t want to keep fixing all the life out of it. 
Another one is, “Am I making the painting different, not better?” 
This is also in reference to overworking a painting. I think that is the worst offender for some of us artists. 
I know I can be overly critical of my work. That is why it’s good to stand back and give yourself some space from the painting. 
Not just physical space, but time as well. 
A couple days to several months can allow for more objectivity.

Thanks Michelle, it was interesting to learn about your health issues, how you battled to overcome them and to come out the other side - finding the healing power in your gorgeous, colorful works of art. Well done you.

Discover more about Michelle and her work by following her links:

“Summer Sings” 44” x 54” Acrylic on canvas

“Captivated” 57” x 54” acrylic on canvas


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