There’s nothing more rewarding as gallery-owners than to meet an artist, fall in love with her work, like her sunny personality immensely – and then watch the paintings fly off the gallery walls and into the homes of happy clients. Meet Maureen Naughton, an artist who checks all those boxes and makes it look so easy.
We began working with Maureen a while ago and it’s been fun to watch her work develop into a signature style that characterizes her love of nature. We sat down with her recently to pick her brain:
HHFA: Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from and how long have you been in Atlanta?
MN: I have lived most of my life in New York: Westchester and upstate New York. We moved to Atlanta 17 years ago for a job with Home Depot.
HHFA: How did you begin painting?
MN: a thread of art has woven through my life from a young age. I studied art at Skidmore College in New York. I had an early career in art education after which my entrepreneurial spirit lead me to start a design firm specializing in hand-painted silks and wearable art. Nine years ago, I returned to the canvas and the smell of the rich oil paints that I love so much. (HHFA: we love that smell of oil paint, too!)
HHFA: how do you continue to grow as an artist?
MN: I’m painting full-time now at my studios in Cape Cod and Atlanta. I’ve continued to study in workshops of noted artists whom I admire, including painter Cynthia Packard.
HHFA: nature plays heavily as subject matter for you. Where do you find your inspiration?
MN: my inspirations are nostalgic, solitary places of peace that pull at the heartstrings. That could be a deserted beach, a grove of aspen, or a boat at mooring. I paint when and where the spirit moves me!
HHFA: how has your style developed over the years?
MN: I discovered that I love to paint large which allows me to become more physically connected with the piece.
HHFA: we love how luminous your paintings are. How do you accomplish that?
MN: the work in applied in layers with the first in golds and oranges. Only bits of pieces of these original colors will peak through in the finished piece, but these warm colors keep the finished work from becoming too cold. Next, luscious layers of paint are added and subtracted over a period of time giving the surface depth and richness and guiding the viewer’s eye ever deeper into the canvas. Sometimes, I often feel as though my paintings paint themselves.
HHFA: what do you mean by that last sentence? Explain that one to us.
MN: well, as each layer forms, the original intent is lost and a new one emerges. I get carried along on a tide of creativity as a dance between clarity and confusion emerges on the canvas. Color, texture and movement clash and mesh as the painting develops.
HHFA: what are some of your tools of the trade?
MN: my painting tool of choice is the simple rubber kitchen spatula. (yes, you read that right!) Ninety percent of my work is done using this surprisingly versatile tool which allows the paint colors to remain clean with a simple wipe.
HHFA: where do you paint? Do you have a dedicated studio space?
MN: I have dedicated, light-filled studio space in both Atlanta and Cape Cod and I love to play classical music while I paint.
HHFA: and do you treat your painting like a job with a set schedule or do you let the creative process guide your timetable?
MN: I paint when the spirit moves me!
HHFA: What’s your favorite art museum?
MN: the Musee d’Orsay in Paris and the wacky Saatchi in London.
HHFA: favorite vacay spot?
MN: Half of the year I live in Cape Cod where everyday is a vacation and I am connected to nature in a way that I am not in Atlanta. But to escape, there is nothing I enjoy more than researching a far-away land, packing my bags and heading off to see life through a new lens.
HHFA: you get to invite three artists to an imaginary dinner party. Who are they and why are you inviting them?
MN: I never get tired of looking at a Monet and after visiting his gardens in Giverny, I feel even more connected to his work. I also never tire of looking at Wolf Kahn’s trees and the sense of peace and solitude these beautiful vertical forms bring. However, above all, the one artist I return to time and again for inspiration is the Russian, Peter Bezrukov. And one of my favorite quotes comes from Jasper Johns: “sometimes I see it, then paint it. Other times, I paint it, then see it. I want all of these artists to come to dinner to teach me to paint – and to see.
HHFA: we want to come too!
We feel so lucky to represent this thoughtful and exceptionally talented artist. Swing by the gallery to feast your eyes on her work in person – and to feel the passion and energy she pours into each painting. Thanks, Maureen, for making our jobs look easy!