Sit Down With Our December '20 Featured Artist

Marta Betlej

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Featured Artist /  December 2020 ScrawlrBox

I’m an artist from Poland and learnt my craft studying art at the University of Zielona Góra. In my creative life I have produced jewellery, made wedding fascinators, designed mascots and clothes, but after many varied creative years I have finally returned to my painting roots.

In the past I created a series of paintings called “Saving in time” but for the past few years I put painting and drawing aside to focus on other projects. But, when Lockdown came around, it changed my life and I decided to return to painting. In my artwork I combine drawing and painting techniques, creating spontaneous sketches and mark making, which can be seen in this featured piece. Using these different techniques and weaving my thoughts and emotions into them, combining art with feelings, as for me they are one and the same.

What is the biggest challenge you have overcome as an artist?

I remember when I was in my last year and my diploma was approaching. I had many ideas and sketches in my head, but at the same timeI had just started my professional career, so my time for creative work was shortening. At the beginning it was very difficult for me and I could not get a leave to “chase” with work, so I slept for two hours staying up through the night to meet the deadline. It was mayhem... I was suspending my works and gluing a huge plotter with my initials, which was part of my diploma. I managed, but it was a superhuman effort :)

What are your main artistic inspirations?

The first painting I fell in love with was Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” and that’s where my art direction started. So far I have been inspired by German expressionism and Polish poster artists, to name a few: Jan Lenica, Rafał Olbiński, Waldemar Świerzy, Franciszek Starowieyski, Jan Młodożeniec .... He also inspires for me what is fleeting, nature, its perfection and how it puts its colours together, Mother Nature is the most beautiful painter.

Is there a particular supply that you could not live without?

 can’t imagine creating without graphite andoil pastels. Sometimes there will be no cards or watercolours but I have a lot of pastels, because I can never run out of them. You can take away a cardboard or an old notebook, but the pastels must be there.

Is there an element of art that you enjoy working with the most?

At the beginning my drawings consisted mostly of finely drawn lines that formed shapes, but years later I find that I like to combine several techniques in one. I now love mixed media, I’ve recently started experimenting with acrylics. I cut out my unsuccessful sketches, stick these pieces on canvas along with scraps from old newspapers.

If you were describing Art to a stranger, how would you describe it?

Colour and emotions - I have always intuitively sensed their mutual relations and that is why the writing is a kind of a bridge that serves as an amplifier. This may mean that the same moment will never be recreated again ...... That what was written down is like a fleeting butterfly and impossible to recreate, especially when it comes to sketches. My sketches are the result of a mood, because they are made of some fleeting emotion, it is not the result of studying the object but an image of inner experience and expression.

How do you stay motivated to create?

Ann Wood believes that all ideas need tobe written down in order to move the brainto exercise, this will make the wheels in our machine start to roll and our imaginationwill be stimulated. She invented the habitof sketching everyday and instead of a sketchbook, she prepared squares every Sunday, in which she painted over freely during the week. I think this is a fantastic idea for training your brain, breaking your own barriers, seeing your mistakes and finally developing.If we exercise muscles, why shouldn’t we also exercise our hand and imagination?

Did you always want to become an artist?

I used to draw when I was a little girl. I had a lot of sketchbooks and crayons. Everyone in the family, remembering that, always bought them for me and when they asked who I would be as an adult, I replied that I would be a fashion designer and I would draw princesses (:D). My whole life has been a desire to become an artist and every time I had to give it up, life reminded me that it was my only and right way.

Is there a moment in your career that you are most proud of?

It’s just ahead of me .....

Do you have projects planned that you are particularly excited about?

Yes, I have two large formats that will be made in mixed media technique. I am really looking forward to it and am motivated to create. It will be a challenge for me and I hope I will succeed :)

As featured in the December 2020 ScrawlrBox

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