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Texas' Contemporary Art Pioneer, Mark Whitmarsh

Whitmarsh on beginning his career as a lone contemporary artist and what inspires him today.

During the late 1980’s, in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Mark Whitmarsh began painting. His creative accomplishments have spanned the ups and downs of trends, styles, and economic bubbles for more than four decades. Whitmarsh’s art can be found in galleries in Texas and the southwest, and his art shows he continues to be inspired and is not afraid to move into new directions.

“I started painting professionally in the time when a lot of people were not buying contemporary art. I was a lone artist for quite some time,” says Whitmarsh. “People were more interested in southwestern art, but luckily that has changed.”

It is no surprise that Whitmarsh has captivated audiences for decades. The mixed media artist, who primarily paints in acrylic, has a style that is light and full of movement. He has three gallery shows per year, and although he has already cemented his reputation as one of the contemporary artists of our region, he continues to push his work forward.

“When I am creating on canvas, I am inspired by randomness and chaos,” Whitmarsh says of his creative process. “When I start, I paint the whole canvas black and add layers from there. I am not one who plans everything from the beginning – I just get too bored. I don’t call a painting done until it has between 8-10 layers on it. Many people don’t realize that all of my paintings are finished with a coat of oil paint, which I really like, because I can manipulate it a lot longer than acrylic.”

Although many artists concentrate their efforts on one or possibly a handful of paintings at a time, Whitmarsh spreads a minimal amount of time across hundreds of paintings. “I paint really small amounts of time throughout the day. Sometimes just 10-15 minutes at a time,” says the artist. “I paint when I am inspired or when I get an idea. I just don’t have the temperament to spend hours and hours at a time on a painting.”

Whitmarsh draws inspiration from his childhood in Colorado and simple moments spent in nature, but he is also influenced by the classics. “I don’t want to be boring, but I am still inspired by Picasso and his creativity,” he says. “I always go back to Monet, and de Kooning because I feel like their work is the expressionist side of the human psyche.”

When asked about what comes next in his professional career, he laughs and says, “You have to remember, my goal was never to be a professional artist,” said Whitmarsh. “I picked it up because my parents were good artists and I went to art school, but I didn’t become a professional artist until I got laid off from a job and started getting commissions for my art. I started gradually - it was never planned.”

Planned or not, patrons of the art are fortunate Whitmarsh hasn’t put down his paintbrush.

Mark Whitmarsh’s art can be found locally at Jack Rabbit Gallery.

228 E 27th St.

Houston, TX 77008

832.991.8113

  • Mark Whitmarsh at work. Photo Credit: Southwest Gallery