Creators, Makers, and Doers: Marianne Konvalinka
Posted on 3/29/16 by Arts & History
Marianne Konvalinka finds sacred time in the studio that was lovingly built for her to accommodate the materials she collects and uses in her mixed media works. She utilizes the time there to play, experiment, and explore the relationships between the different materials and the layers they create.
Can you start by telling me just who you are and what you do?
I’m Marianne Konvalinka and I do a lot of different things. I started as a photographer and I incorporate my photography into a lot of my mixed-media artwork. Also, I have oil-painted, I do book-making, journaling, and I’m just getting interested in doing some printmaking, so, a little bit of everything.
Is there one media that you prefer over the others?
No, not really. I do like playing with mixed media. I like the texture a lot, using different things and building up layers, so that the things underneath have meaning, even if you can’t see them.
Can you elaborate a little bit more on that? What draws you to mixed-media work?
I like texture. I like color. If I wanted something photo-realistic, then I would take a photograph of it because I’m also a photographer. When I do photography, it kind of tends towards more abstract, different things. I think when I do mixed media; I don’t ever have an idea of what the end result’s going to be. I just start playing with colors and layers, and sometimes I’ll be surprised by what I find. It’s a real organic process, which is a lot of fun for me.
Can you talk a little bit more about your process?
I don’t know that I necessarily always start with ideas, although I do tend to work in sets. I’ll start something and it’ll end up having either a color in it or a theme. I’ve done a lot of pieces with ravens. I have a lot of raven photos. They seem to show up a lot. I’ll end up with five or six pieces that are along the same theme, but seldom do I start thinking, “This is what I want to do.” I would have a really hard time doing a theme-driven show or anything, because it’s just more organic. It just comes out. I am working on a series right now called my Totem Series and they’re all wildlife photos that I took in Yellowstone and Idaho. The backgrounds of these have what the symbolic meaning of the animals is. So, I guess that probably would be kind of a good example, because you can’t really see what’s behind it but it’s there, so that sort of informs the piece.
Can you tell me about this work space?
Yeah, I love my studio. My husband and stepsons built this for me maybe five years ago? He decided he wanted the dining room table back. When I was an oil painter, it was easy to have the studio in the house because it doesn’t take up that much room. But when I started doing mixed media and collecting paper and picking stuff up on the street and all that kind of stuff, having a studio became much more attractive. So, they put it up. I wanted all the windows, which kind of takes away from wall space, but it’s nice to have and it’s just a really nice, cozy spot. It makes me happy to come out here and work.
What does your creative working schedule look like?
Well, I have a day job, a full-time day job, so I don’t get in the studio as much as I would like to. One thing I have started doing, because I travel almost every week, is I take a sketchbook with me. Every trip, I finish four little pictures in this book. It has really helped improve my drawing skills, too, which is great. So, I do that, and then every Sunday there’s about five of us that get together out here. Some of the other artists bring things to work on. Sometimes we just talk, but there’s a Sunday studio afternoon that is pretty sacred to me, just because I have to have that time.
What drives you to continue creating art aside from your full-time job?
I think there’s something cool about the fact that somebody wants something that I made on their wall that makes them smile, makes them think about something. I mean, that’s kind of phenomenal to me that you can touch people that way. Thinking about all of these things that go out in the world, they take on a life of their own because, whatever you think it is when you make it, it never means that to somebody else. That’s part of the cool thing about it. It’s just like you’ve shared your vision of the world somehow, whether it’s what you think is beautiful, or whatever. It’s about communicating.
What are your opinions of the arts community here?
I’ve found it to be really supportive. Every time I’ve asked somebody for help or ideas, they’ve always just been great. I think it’s exciting to see stuff like Swell come along. People like that, that just really want to put something together and make it work. It’s probably not the easiest place in the world to make a living as an artist, but I do know artists who do make a living as artists, and I think that’s cool. I think there’s some good energy
Do you recognize any resources that are missing or lacking here?
One thing I do wish we have is an arts center where there is room to have classes and studio space or a gallery space. I know Fort Boise does pottery and you can find stuff here and there, but it would be nice to have a central place that could accommodate organizations. I know TVAA does a really good job with putting on workshops and that kind of stuff. But it would be nice to have an arts center.
What is it about Boise that keeps you here?
I love it here. The community is, not just the arts community, but the community in general—is really wonderful. I really love being able to walk out my front door and into the foothills to hike, walk, or ride a bike downtown. It’s manageable. I love the fact that I commute on an airplane but still I can get up and be sitting at my gate in under an hour, which isn’t going to happen anywhere.
I love the fact that you can get out of town pretty quickly and easily. You know, we have a place in Fairfield and you can get up there and get far away from everything, which is really, really great. And, for somebody who loves nature and animals and that, Yellowstone’s close, Jackson’s close, so it’s just, it’s a good place.
Do you have any words of inspiration?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help, because there’s always somebody out there. I absolutely believe that you get back what you give.
Creators, Makers, & Doers highlights the lives and work of Boise artists and creative individuals. Selected profiles focus on individuals whose work has been supported by the Boise City Dept. of Arts & History.