• Photo Diary: Seeing Red

    We’re longtime followers of artist and photographer Mari Orr, whose pairings of color, texture, and objects are one of the coolest things in our Instagram feeds. We collaborated with her on this special color story to see how she’d interpret red through her own creative lens, and chatted with her more about her own creative life and process.

    Can you share more about the pieces you created for this series — we were drawn to your Instagram because you post such an interesting mix of things. How do you approach the types of work you create? 
    I’m generally inspired by the colors, textures, and patterns of whatever I’m playing with: flowers, food, fabrics, art supplies, gemstones, whatever I can get my hands on! In this case, the intricately patterned textiles really struck me. After playing with them for a bit, I decided to create different arrangements based on a day in my life. It starts with the photo full of fabrics, which represents waking up for the day, surrounded in bed by colorful and sumptuous linens. The Day Trip arrangement tells a story of exploration and adventure. Inspired by what I’ve seen, I gather my art supplies and settle down to create…The last food-themed photo is about coming together at the end of the day. I had a lot of fun coming up with my scenes and setting everything up just so.

    I don’t tend to plan ahead very much. Usually, what you see on Instagram is what I’m working on that day. And since my mood changes so often, I end up with a variety of images. One day it may be the leftover paint in my palette, another day will be a work in progress. If I go on walks, I’ll post the flowers and leaves and sticks we found. Sometimes I’ll use those materials to create new pictures, like for my #emojisinbloom project. My feed is really a true reflection of the way my mind works. I have a definite aesthetic, but the subject matter can vary greatly.

    Do you approach the things you post on Instagram differently than the rest of your work?
    I like to use my Instagram to post behind-the-scenes glimpses of my life as well as works in progress. I don’t finish a painting until it feels right and I’m happy with the direction it’s taking — so sometimes, what you see on Instagram doesn’t appear for sale on my site until weeks or months later. I tend to have about ten to twenty pieces going at any one time. And sometimes, my work on Instagram never shows up on my website. In that case, I may have fiddled about with some flowers or leaves specifically for IG. I’ve also been known to paint on spare pieces of anything — so if a piece of art was just for fun, on a piece of cardboard or spare scrap of paper, those were never made to be sold in the first place. 

    You started your career as a chemist…what made you decide to pursue art full-time?
    Art has always been a part of me. I have doodled, drawn, painted, and photographed my way through many different phases of my life. Soon after I joined Instagram, I started posting my creative play. I received a ton of encouragement and support from similarly creative pals all over the world! I also had quite a few people interested in purchasing my art. After months of saying “Maybe someday!” I finally decided to set up shop.

    What color palettes, mediums, or art ideas are you most interested in right now?
    I don’t think I could ever narrow down a color palette, I’m so infatuated with all colors. I can love a color more or less depending on the shades surrounding it. Although…blush-peachy-pink is nearly always a win for me. And a deep, rich navy. And yellow in nearly all its forms, especially mustard! 

    Painting as a whole is very therapeutic for me, watching the colors swirl together. It’s an art form I’ve returned to over and over again in my life, beginning with the industrial-sized tempera paint jugs I wanted for Christmas when I was seven years old. I have soft spots for oil, acrylic, and watercolor, though I tend to gravitate towards watercolor the most right now. The convenience of set up, dry time, and clean up can’t be beat when you have young kids and only snippets throughout the day to devote to creativity.

    Can you tell us more about your Kind Notes project?
    My #allingoodkind Kind Notes project started because I wanted to paint and I wanted to letter, but I had no one left to send my creations to. I could only send surprise notes to friends so many times before it turned a little creepy, you know? So, I asked my followers on Instagram if they knew anyone that needed cheering up. A TON of people responded, telling me to send a note to their mom, their best friend, their husband, their neighbor...Before long, it evolved into my monthly project, which continues even after I opened shop. I love the idea of sending kind words to complete strangers. It makes me happy to think about them going to get their mail like any other ho-hum day, seeing a fun envelope (I always decorate the envelopes too), wondering whoever it could be from…and all it contains is a single flat card with some uplifting words painted on it...I’m really very passionate about trying to inject happiness into people’s lives.

    We love how you integrate flowers and nature into your Instagram posts…can you share more about how nature plays a role in your work? 
    The colors, the textures, the patterns…it sounds almost cliche, but when you stop to observe — really observe — nature…it’s miraculous. And I think my chemistry background helps me appreciate that even more. I look at a single bloom and think about all the steps that must happen for just that one lone flower to bloom and propagate. I wonder about all the chemical processes that had to occur for such perfect color or precise arrangement of petals. I love that there’s subtle differences between neighboring blooms in a field full of flowers…yet they’re all the same. 

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