My Art Evolution

Let's take a little walk down memory lane, shall we?

It's been a few years now since I've picked up my art tools and set out on this creative journey. It began with my wanting to escape the depression hanging over me, while I was living in South Korea. Although I had always been creative and crafty, I never took making art too seriously. I've had some comments from people saying, "Wow, you're so talented!" and "It seems like you've had years of experience...!" These kinds of compliments are terribly flattering - but I have to disagree with both.

A. I've only really had 3 years of (serious) painting experience

B. I have an affinity for art, but the "talent" that you might see came from a couple years of hard work and lots of practice.

Here are some selections of my work through the years:


I was much more comfortable painting objects, rather than people. As I was only beginning to learn about watercolor, I was exploring how to control the shadows and highlights of a piece. You can see that in some cases I used it rather thickly (I really globbed it on in the kimchi painting) and was using it in layers rather than sections. There are lots of unintentional bleeds and blooms, where I wasn't yet in control of the amount of water I was using, not aware of the drying time. As with the mocha pot below, it turned out rather nicely, although serendipitously.


The exploration of folk art portraits! I began in earnest, depicting people (mostly friends) in my own style. Still, with flat lines and simple shapes, (not too much complexity,) I played with textile designs. Also, HELLO COLOR! I went crazy and wasn't selective about the number of colors I included in my paintings. This was fun, but perhaps not great for creating a cohesive style and body of work.


I really hit my stride for painting defined features, better likenesses, and was featured in several more group shows around the US. I also had my first solo show (with writer A.C. O'Dell) "Woman, These Are Yours." I was finding my voice as an artist, and better able to articulate through my paintings what I'm feeling and thinking about our current social climate. Pet portrait and family portrait sales really picked up and gave me more confidence in these commissions.

Which brings us to...


I'm still working in watercolor, but have also added acrylic to my resume. I am more specific / thoughtful about my color choices and combinations. I also am strict with the blooms and bleeds of larger spaces in my work, while making sure the lines are controlled. I love the work I've been creating recently. The group shows I've been able to be a part of, the commissions that have come my way - I'm immensely blessed.

So, seeing this evolution, you might say, "Well wow, look at how far you've come! You must have 'arrived' by now, right?"

Sorry - nope. Not in the least.

Of course, looking over the recent years' of work, it's easy for me to see what's current as the best...but I know that next year's art will better than these. I wanted to show all of you what hard work looks like. I'm not shy to tell you that practice (not talent) is what has made all the difference.

Although I'm immensely happy about my progress and my techniques now, I'm constantly trying to improve. There's always room for improvement; there's always a way for me to tweak my skills and move towards my own unique style. I'm still finding my voice and I'm still looking for ways to be relevant and striking, so that my audience sees a need a for the work I do.

Also, it's the job of an artist, not only to convey ideas for the greater good, but to not become stagnant, or too comfortable in your work. By trying other mediums, and challenging yourself with new subjects, you keep things fresh and fun.

Just for one last contrast, and hopefully a good chuckle, here's a rooster then and now:



Marni Manning - Artist

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