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Do you find yourself in the abstract or figurative art group? Most artists end up in one group or the other, but there some who start in one group and migrate to the other. My guest, Mario Naves is an accomplished painter, art critic, and teacher. In our conversation, Mario opens up about his journey from starting out as a figurative artist and moving more toward abstract art perspective. Mario also goes over reactions to seeing his old artwork, shedding perfectionism, his creative process, and much more! I know artists like you will enjoy hearing from such a talented voice like Mario.
Reflecting on Past Artwork
Have you ever taken a trip down memory lane with your artwork? Doesn’t it almost feel like it was someone else who made those pieces? Artist Mario Naves told me a story in our conversation about a time when he was reflecting on one of his paintings that hangs in one of his friend’s homes. While some artists might cringe or feel uncomfortable looking back on work they produced years ago, Mario looks back on that work fondly. He describes that moment as one of recognition but also of separation. It was fascinating to hear Mario talk about this unique and almost out of body like experience that he had while looking at this old painting of his. Make sure to get a glimpse of Mario’s artwork in the images at the end of this post.
Giving Yourself Permission to be YOU
Some artists thrive on the pressure and high expectations that they receive from others and also the person they see in the mirror. Do you find that to be helpful motivation in your creative journey? Artist Mario Naves told me that in his younger years he found himself wrapped up in his own expectations and the expectations that others had of him, lately, he’s been shedding expectations. Mario describes himself as a “recovering perfectionist” and attributes most of this change to his age. Now he feels the freedom and permission to really open up and do what he really wants to do deep down when he approaches the canvas.
From Figurative Art to Abstract Art
Every artist is on a journey. Some of us do a lot of “exploring” when we are younger and some find that impulse to branch out and “explore” later in their career. Mario Naves grew up focusing on figurative and representational art. Then there came a point where he started to branch out and move toward experimenting with abstract art. When I tried to pin down when and how Mario started to move toward abstract art, he wasn’t able to really point to a specific moment, it seems that it was more of a gradual change for him. I had a wonderful time exploring this change and evolution that Mario went through and I know that artists like you will enjoy our conversation.
Unpredictability and Structure
The beauty of the creative processes is that there is a large range of diversity in theory and practice in the art world. Much like the contrast and different approach that abstract and figurative art gives us, Mario Naves and I discussed unpredictability and structure in our conversation. It seems like these two thought processes and ways of art creation and viewing the world conflict with each other. In a way, these two approaches do contradict each other but they can also be housed in the same mind of an artist. This tension can seem like it’s impossible but Mario and I discuss how this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Outline of This Episode
- [1:30] I introduce my guest, Mario Naves.
- [5:15] Mario talks about his work.
- [10:30] What is Mario looking for when he goes to the canvas?
- [13:30] Mario’s surprise when looking back at his old paintings.
- [18:30] Shedding perfectionism.
- [23:00] How does Mario spend his time in the studio?
- [25:00] Mario’s artistic process.
- [29:30] What made Mario get involved with abstract art?
- [45:00] Unpredictability and structure.
- [50:00] How teaching impacts Mario’s artwork.
- [53:00] Advice Mario would give his younger self.
Other artists mentioned on this episode
- Richard Diebenkorn
- Diane Arbus
- Jasper Johns
- Petrus Christus
- Gerard David
- Fairfield Porter
- William De Kooning
- Ginnie Gardiner
- Edward Hopper
- Marc Trujillo
- Kathleen Speranza