Marlene Kurland has painted her entire life, from beach scenes to portraits. The artist loves to create on large canvases, using broad brush strokes, as she paints the colors of human emotions and loving relationships. Her colors come from life; she paints them brightly and startlingly intense. Often, her subjects are inspired by photographs as she uses her oils to layer on spirit and depth, transforming a static image into a living portrait. Marlene Kurland gets into the soul of her subjects. Marlene is frequently commissioned for family paintings, ordered by collectors from all over the world and inspired by their favorite photos. The artist always looks forward to painting the love of her clients and turn this into a gift they will treasure forever! Kurland includes in all of her commissioned paintings her upbeat and unique style to give life to each family she paints, thus creating a loving, cherishable, personal gift that inevitably elicits great emotion.
Even though you’ve been painting your entire life, you focused solely on your art four years ago; what led to this decision?
Ever since I can remember, as a little girl, I was told that I could not make a living being an artist. I loved to paint faces more than anything else, so I became a makeup artist! Each face became my canvas as I plowed through my career. Still, in my 30’s, I became the owner of several makeup and skincare salons, with 70 employees, in upscale Maryland malls. I loved my business but the big, beautiful art studio I had built in my home never got used for many years.
Who or what has been your greatest influence that contributed to your current artistic style?
My style sort of started on my own since I was so young when my mom began painting with me. She was a fabulous artist and so talented with her use of paint, but our styles were totally different. I had so much fun painting and learning from my mom. As I grew up, I gravitated to Monet, Degas, Manet, and all Impressionistic artists. Later, I really loved Bonnard’s style.
You belong to numerous charities and donate your artworks; was there a particular life experience that urged you to follow such a path?
I think truthfully what inspired me was my own very healthy, handsome, and smart son and how his life has always been so wonderful. While I was always so proud of him and he has worked very hard to achieve and earn all of his accomplishments, he had opportunities his entire life that many children will never have. When I heard of the Sandy Hook shootings, I could not fathom how any mom could bear this kind of pain and I just began painting one of the children who I saw on a magazine cover until I just found myself painting all of those who lost their lives. As I watched the ads for Shriners Hospital for Children, I got in touch with the director and he continues to send me photos of actual patients and I have now created 15 paintings for them and am always working on more to ship out. When I see these unfortunate situations of precious children with smiles on their faces, I feel compelled to do something, no matter how small. Now I’m working on some of the Parkland students. I pray that my son, now a doctor, will be able to save as many lives as he possibly can and continue the path to giving.
You are a noted commissioned portrait artist. Did you always know that this is something you would like to achieve as an artist or did something inspire this decision?
First drawing and then painting faces were always my favorites to create. I just was not as interested in painting nature for example, unless there was a beach or beautiful landscape behind my subjects. When I was in my teens, I would do portraits of my family members. Soon I’d be painting portraits of my boyfriends. One recently got in touch with me and showed me a drawing I had made of him over 45 years ago that he was still holding on to, during each of his six moves. That made me very happy!
What is the most memorable experience you’ve had as a commissioned portrait artist?
In the last four years, I have created over 500 portraits. Some were more challenging than others, but I loved working out those challenges. If I have to choose the most memorable one, it would be one that I created for another artist, Stephen Ritchie, a wonderful abstract artist. It’s such an honor when another artist commissions me. He contacted me through my website, asking me to create 2 pieces, inspired by the same photo, one for his old college roommate’s family and one for him personally. He explained that his dear friend was in very bad condition from Lou Gehrig’s disease and that these paintings would be very important to him. The painting and his great review are available to check for anyone interested.
Has your creative practice changed over the years? If so, how is your first body of work different than your current body of work?
While my style remains lose, I notice I am getting more and more detailed as the years go by. I continually try to hone my skills and paint almost every single day. I still do not measure, using only my eyes to strive for the best proportions, likeness, colors, and details, and I love the process of figuring it all out.
You’ve mentioned that you attempt to truly understand the essence of your subjects while painting in a loose, freestyle. How do you achieve this?
I do try to get a feel for my clients and to find out who are the people in their lives that I will be painting. After many conversations, as I go through the painting process, they often share information they believe may be pertinent. But more importantly I look through my subjects’ eyes, just like we do with all new people we meet every day and somehow, through the painting process, I feel on some level I know them and according to my collectors, it comes out in the final piece.
Were there any obstacles that you had to overcome while following your path as an artist?
I would not call it an obstacle but just like in every profession, sometimes it can be difficult to be our true selves and follow our authentic hearts. When I came on to the juried art show circuit, I quickly realized that I was the only artist NOT selling anything. I only bring examples to acquire new commissions of original family oil paintings. Sometimes, I bring a beach scene or two, but as soon as a collector knows that he or she can have something custom, a personal commission from me is usually what they go for.
Looking back to your artistic journey, is there anything that you would have done differently?
I probably would not have believed all of the nonsense about artists not being able to earn a living. But really, I would not change a thing. I had a fantastic and very supportive husband, a healthy, happy child, a wonderful career as a business owner and I helped a lot of people get started in the careers of their choice, all while I continued to paint! I was truly blessed!
Whether you are looking for the perfect gift for a loved one, need to impress a colleague, or want to give a friend something they will always remember you by, you will find the just the right piece on ARTmine. Need help? Contact us at email@example.com
Being someone with such experience in the art world, do you have any piece of advice to give to the young, aspiring artists out there?
This is what has always helped me. Work harder than anyone else. Get great at your skills, always be kind and loving, never stop practicing, never complain, continue to learn, truly believe in yourself and carve out a part of your day to really work at your dream. That means, turn off your phone and really put your heart into your work, see yourself living the life you want. You just can’t lose when you never give up!
Marlene’s works are available for sale on her ARTmine page. For those interested in commissioning the artist, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or find the artist on social media.