Italy was the last place writer and artist Marina Brown visited last summer, pre-pandemic and free from the lockdowns that have halted and haunted international travel.
Brown spent most of her time conducting research for her most recent book, “The Orphan of Pitigliano,” which was released this spring and is now a finalist for the Florida Authors & Publishers Association Book Awards. Brown also does freelance writing for the Tallahassee Democrat.
Brown loves stepping outside the familiar to generate her works. Though she is grounded in Tallahassee for now, quarantine has only increased her artistic fervor and output. In addition to being recognized as a novelist, Brown is a prolific visual artist and she has accomplished an impressive feat. This summer, her artworks will be exhibited simultaneously in four different galleries. She’s kicking the season off with a solo show at LeMoyne Arts titled “Color of Light: Retrospective and New Works.”
“I’ve been in a frenzy,” says Brown. “It’s been a lot of late nights, but the more you’re doing it, the freer the flow comes to you. I’ve felt pretty inspired of late.”
Three paintings appeared in a week and a half, accompanied by the booming operatic tenor of Luciano Pavarotti in the background.
“The power of his voice keeps me painting and it’s wonderful…it’s exhilarating,” adds Brown.
The LeMoyne exhibition uses all five galleries with more than 80 original artworks on display. Brown presents both new and retrospective works that range in media from pastels to watercolor. She’s divided her work into three sections — tableaus of the “deep south” and African American life, portraiture of faces seen on her travels to Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Brazil, and finally, dancers in motion.
Brown says she often has a hard time finding the right paper for an idea, so she has tested numerous surfaces for this series. She layered pastel on cardboard to combat the duller coloring. For another work, she grabbed red sandpaper from the garage to sketch a crew of hip-hop dancers and make them pop.
One portrait of a young African American man, titled “Get Behind Me Satan,” was created on Italian placemat paper that she brought back from Italy. While its ochre coloring easily compliments her chalky pastels, she chose to use watercolors instead.
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