Monday, February 13, 2017

The Artist's Easel — The Inspirational Art of Marylou Falstreau

One Day She Woke Up to Share Art and Poetry.

How do you quench your thirst in the desert? I guess it all depends on what you are thirsting for. Last fall in the California desert we came across the art and poetry of Marylou Falstreau. It was like coming across a canteen of water in the desert. It was welcome. It was needed. And it sustained us...temporarily.

As a person needs water, a writer needs inspiration and we followed up with Marylou to learn more about her art. Her poetry and her passion. This is what she had to say.

Your imagery is bright, playful, honest, sometimes humorous and always heartfelt. Tell us about your style. Who were your artistic influences along the way?

I am mostly a self-taught artist, although I did take college level art classes to learn about materials and techniques. It was a great place to start. I did lack certain abilities, like how to see and draw perspective, so I naturally gravitated toward styles that I could emulate. You might say my art is primitive. I love color, pattern and design. Matisse, Cezanne, Magritte and Picasso are artists I resonate with.

I have always been a truth teller and I guess, a storyteller, too. My work is narrative and speaks to the viewer in many ways. Some of my images are funny and make people laugh. Others touch the heart and possibly encourage transformation in some way. Many women have told me I make them cry, which I consider a compliment.

You struck a chord with your Women and the Hourglass series of poems and paintings. Tell us about the dream that led to the series and the feedback you have had from women and men and the impact your art has had on them.

I was having a tough time when the dream occurred. Someone very dear to me was struggling with alcoholism and I had been caught up in the drama of trying to save/ fix him for years. Eventually, every thing just became too crazy and I realized I wasn’t helping anyone, especially him. I had to let him go, knowing that the circumstances in his life were going to change drastically because of my decision. It was the most painful moment of my life. (It is important to note here, that my loved one is now sober and doing well.)

In the dream, I was sitting around a conference table with a group of women, planning something seemingly important. When I woke up I remembered the words, Women and Hourglass. The Hourglass was a mystery to me but I have come to learn it represents time passing and that, “Now is the time to Wakeup!”  I immediately began creating the first images in the series, without any actual plan or understanding that I was creating an inspirational line of cards and gifts for women. At the time, I was participating in art shows and my work had evolved to become women-centric.

It was easy for me to begin. My first image read, One Day She Woke Up and Discovered She’s Grown Wings. Then came, One Day She Woke Up and Decided To Love Herself More Than She Ever Thought Possible, followed by, One Day She Woke Up and Opened Her Hands To Receive. There are now 54 images and more in the planning stages.

Life is an inside job. We are all responsible for our own health, happiness and growth. Now is the Time to Wake Up. This is what I am learning and what I share through my Women and the Hourglass series.

Surprisingly, my art has become a full-fledged wholesale and retail business. My husband and life partner, Alan, and I ship orders all over the country and the world. I hear from individuals, but also non-profits that deal with issues such as domestic violence, addictions, human trafficking and mental health disorders. Men purchase my art as a way to support the women in their lives, but I’ve noticed the messages resonate with them as well. Many men have suggested I create a line for them, but at this point, I feel under-qualified.

We spoke about your art, what about the other facet to your art, your poetry. Who or what inspires your poetry?

Because the series is narrative it has been quite natural to include poetry, something I have no training for, but absolutely love. It is just another way to connect and express my creativity. I am captivated by the human experience and live my life from an internal place. I am not that interested in material things but words linked together to express a thought or emotion, touch me deeply.
My writing practice is intuitive. I sit down in a quiet place and just let it happen...

Where does the inspiration to create originate from? Is it an image that you want to convey or is it an emotion? When you stand before the easel is the process organic or thought out in advance?

Where does anything come from? Do we know for sure?

I was born with the soul of an artist and have given myself permission to be one. Ever since I was a child I can remember how I felt when coloring or using scissors and paste. I felt like myself. That is the only way to describe it, I think.

Usually words come to me before the image, when creating for my Hourglass series. The words are the most important element of what I do. I say out loud what other women have been feeling but may not easily express. The image follows to support the words.

I only have a vague idea when beginning one of my original canvases. I don’t do too much planning or drawing. Everything comes in it’s own time and sometimes paintings are created more quickly than others. Sometimes there is a struggle but I usually hang in there until the difficulty is resolved.

I like the word you use, “organic.” I would say my painting process is organic and most typically my intention is to convey a feeling or emotion.

You have lived in the California desert, how does your environment affect/inform your art?

I have also lived in the valley, in the mountains and by the ocean. The most notable difference is that my environment informs my color palate. I used more blues when we lived by the ocean and created more paintings with water.

My desert paintings had more natural earth tones and possibly became more mystical. I absolutely loved living in the desert and will go there often to re-energize.

Now that I am back in the mountains, I can see my art is shifting again and I am using more metallic paints. I have been painting a very long time and I can see that I am a chameleon, of sorts.

What’s next? Are there any new projects or exhibitions that you would like to share?

My Women and the Hourglass series will continue to expand and I expect to add at least 10 new images during the span of this year.

I lead workshops and sometimes speak to groups of women, sharing my story. Mostly I try not to spend too much time planning for the future, because my life seems to have a trajectory of it’s own. I know there will be many surprises and unexpected twists in the road.

What is the one thing that you would like people to know about you and your art?

I would like people to know that I am an honest person. I am not the most accomplished artist or the best poet, but I do what I do from a place of integrity. I don’t profess to be anyone but who I am. I make the best of my skills to tell my story and share with people who are on a similar path. I am a truth teller.




All images © Marylou Falstreau.