Marlene Walters

Marlene Walters

Marlene Walters earned a B.A. in Art from Mills College and became an award winning corporate graphic designer. She returned to her roots in fine art and studied with many notable painters including Van Waldron, in the lineage of Russian master painter Sergei Bongart.

Marlene’s paintings cover a wide range of subject matter. She works in series such as an on-going one that celebrates people going about their day-to-day activities, composing paintings to highlight both action and relationship in an impressionistic realism sometimes bordering the abstract.

Many of Marlene’s small paintings are studies of commonplace objects that pay tribute to the role of simple beauty in our lives, wherever it comes from–the natural world or the world of good, functional design.

Her most recent work extends her exploration into complex assemblages of archival prints of her own paintings on wood substrates. The collage works have a unique vibrancy through pattern and color. They range in size from intimate to monumental and each has an environmental connection that harkens back to her early years in a place that honored and utilized gifts of the earth.

Her paintings are regularly included in the juried American Artwork, the annually published review of new art. She has a loyal following of collectors, nationally and internationally. Marlene’s work has been shown throughout the Bay Area and beyond, including Desta Gallery in San Anselmo, Studio Gallery in San Francisco, Mythos Gallery in Berkeley, Epperson Gallery in Crockett, San Francisco Women Artists, Randy Higbee Gallery in Costa Mesa, the on-line American Artists Gallery and the Salamagundi Art Club in New York City.

Artist Statement

I spent my first dozen years in a unique Southern California foothill community originally settled by nature-loving utopians. Drawing at the family table with doors open to the garden and the smell of freshly baked bread from the kitchen, I developed and have retained a deep appreciation for sensory connections in my art.

My lifelong interest in “things made of smaller things” includes mosaics of antiquity, ethnic quilts, rock walls and Australian aboriginal art. Added to those interests are influences including the sculptural work of Louise Nevelson whose wooden assemblages are intricate and puzzle-like; Mark Rothko, whose large color field studies evoke the psychology and spirituality of color; Willem de Kooning, for both color and kineticism; and El Anatsui whose complex monumental works have their own unique vibrancy through pattern and modern materials.

One day, after my usual materials in the studio had been put away, I saw a wooden crate of archival prints of my oil paintings and was struck by new possibility. Picking up my scissors, I cut into the soft paper prints and began to assemble the small pieces into what appeared to be nests, or maybe windows. My brushstrokes and color became newly evocative. It was exciting to see recognizable aspects of my paintings take root anew as intricate collage that brought out gesture, color, shape and spatial relationships. Over time my collage has grown in size and intricacy: some suggest musical rhythmic passages by contrasting the sizes and placement of pieces; others are layered to achieve softer and more subtle transitions. Each collage, in addition to acknowledging the sense of comfort that a nest provides and the sense of mystery/infinity a window suggests, has an environmental connection that harkens back to my early life in a place that honored and utilized gifts of the earth. As in the original paintings, color is highly naturalistic. My process is focused, meditative and time-intensive. Assembling the tiny abstractions of earlier paintings feels akin to seeking broader connections. It is a pleasure to show this new work at the beautiful Desta Gallery.