Making the World Beautiful One Painting At a Time: Mariel Paat

I’ve realized that if I truly want to pursue an artistic career, then I have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.
— Mariel Paat

Making art more than just a passion but a career, Mariel would’ve never thought a career as a painter would be anything she could actually choose. It wasn’t until she took her first painting class in college as a way to jump ahead in credits that she found her passion. With a little help from her art teacher at the time she applied to study abroad for a year in Italy where she would live life and study art.

Captivated by Mariel’s passion for art and her dope vibe as this chill, down to earth chick who is in love with her culture. We had the chance to meet and speak about her passions and what it takes to live life as an artist.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU AS AN ARTIST?

I’m heavily inspired by my Filipino culture. I love that the more I paint about it the more I’m able to learn about my culture, my family’s experience, and my place as a first generation Filipino. The two mediums I work with the most are oils and watercolors. The two mediums serve different parts of my personality, so the work may come off as very different from each other. My watercolors are very light-hearted and silly, whereas my oil paintings are used as a way of searching and opening up conversation to the viewer. However, in both mediums, you can clearly sense that I am drawing from my personal experiences, my culture, nature, and the incredible people in my life. 


WHAT HAS YOUR ARTISTIC JOURNEY TAUGHT YOU SO FAR?

My artistic journey has taught me that it’s hard to be an artist. I’ve realized that if I truly want to pursue an artistic career, then I have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. I’m aware that in order to grow I need to put myself out there more, and I’m still working through that. I have also learned that you don’t have to confine yourself to your studio to be an artist. It’s really cool to find ways to use your creative superpowers outside of your own work. 

WHAT TYPE OF PAINTINGS ARE YOUR FAVORITE TO DO AND WHY?

Figure painting with oils is my absolute favorite! Sometimes I question myself every time I paint a new figure, because the process can be challenging, frustrating, and slow. But once I get to the place where I feel like I got it, and everything is beginning to click, it’s the most satisfying high a painter can experience. In addition to this insane, torturous process that I love oh so much, painting the women in my life as my subjects are such an important way for me to explore the narratives I’m working through. 

IS THERE ONE PIECE OF ARTWORK THAT IS YOUR FAVORITE AND WHY?

There are two pieces that come to mind: Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” and Marcel Duchamps’s “In Advance of the Broken Arm”. “Starry Night” was the first painting that I ever connected with. I was in 2nd grade, I remember just being in absolute awe over the painting. I think no matter what age you are “Starry Night” will always have a magical essence to it, but I really like how it also gives me a sense of nostalgia. 

I also had to include Duchamp’s “In Advance of Broken Arm” because it honestly just makes me laugh. It is also a nice reminder to not take art too seriously all the time, and that I should keep pushing my ideas of what art is, and what it means to be an artist. 

IF YOU COULD GIVE YOUR YOUNGER SELF ONE PIECE OF ADVISE ABOUT THE ARTIST YOU ARE NOW, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

I would tell my younger self, “you’re an introvert, and it’s okay.” I believe that if I had understood that part of myself at an earlier age, I would’ve thought very differently about myself in my younger years. 

WHAT WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT CAN YOU OFFER TO OTHER BUDDING ARTISTS?

I would tell fellow artists to just keep pushing through all the negativity and rejection. Everyone deals with self doubt, and we all have our own journey. Do your best to keep creating art that feels true to you!

DESCRIBE YOUR SLAY?

I think my Slay is my passion and tenacity. In addition to painting, I’m also a full time educator. 

I put a lot of effort into finding studio time while balancing my full time job. Even though my artwork isn’t what’s supporting me financially, I choose to treat it as if it were and continue to pursue my artistic goals, because painting is a huge part of who I am and it’s what I truly love to do. 

Chauncey WoodsComment