By Rebecca Woll

Marcia Baldwin began her life as an artist when as a child, she learned at the hands of her grandmother, mother, and various teachers. Horses were always a favorite subject and oil painting was a first love. When her family bought their first horse, Baldwin was hooked. The horses’ beauty and sensitivity – and her intense desire to both know and understand them – have made horses a focal point of her work.

Throughout her young life, Baldwin had the encouragement of many adults, ranging from professionals to teachers and family. She attended Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, La., majoring in art with a concentration in art education. Subsequently, Baldwin made her living working as an advertising designer, art teacher, art consultant and photographic artisan before finally opening a studio dedicated to purely fine art. Baldwin still works and lives in Louisiana, selling her paintings online, from her studio, and by commission.

RW: Where did you attend school and was there a particular teacher or class that influenced your style more than another?
MB: I received my bachelor’s degree in fine art from Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, La. in 1974. My most influential instructor was a fine artist/illustrator, Albino Hinahosa. His focus on good design, composition, figurative subject matter and attention to detail were taught in a loose, illustrative style. I incorporate the elements of design learned in these years with him. Color theory classes infatuated me also. I reflect back on projects using and understanding color, how it affects the viewer’s eye, the emotions, the movements in a composition and in general, how it creates excitement. I was very pleased to receive the 1974 “Illustrator of the Year Award” from Louisiana Tech University.

Many years prior to attending college, my first most influential teacher was actually my elementary school principal, Mr. Middleton. He always had special projects going in the arts and I would be right there waiting to be included. One I remember so vividly was huge mosaic murals about the history of Louisiana; those murals still hang prominently in the cafeteria and auditorium of the elementary school. His encouragement to paint and draw garnered my very first award for a regional contest, depicting thoughts on beautifying our city. I won a cash award and a spot on a local TV program. I was hooked. I loved being an artist and I was only 9 years old! Art is so important in our early years and needs to be in our school programs.

RW: How did your various jobs affect your work as a professional artist?
MB: I believe that working as an advertising designer had the most influence on my work today. It was challenging every day, being creative on the spur of the moment. It was fast paced and you had to pay attention to client needs, detail, and incorporate all the elements and principles of design to be successful in this field. I use those skills today in my oil paintings, and paint with bold, fast, strong color and brush strokes. It is on an intuitive level, letting a painting come together through my mind’s eye.

RW: What drew you to art as a child?
MB: My first memory of being captured by art was in my grandmother’s home in Texas. She was very artistic with quilting and sewing, but at times would take classes in art using media such as charcoal and pastel. I remember standing and staring at a charcoal drawing she had done that was framed in her dining room. It captivated me, even as a small child. When we would enjoy a sweet afternoon or morning out on her huge porch, sitting in her double glider, she would sketch small things and give the paper and pencil over to me to try. My favorite subject, even then, was horses. She would encourage me and we would giggle at the funny subjects we came up with.

My mom was the one who first started me painting. She enrolled me in a summer workshop with noted artist, Louise Sicard, at our Louisiana state museum. Every morning, I would enjoy setting up my small easel and laying out my paints on my palette in anticipation of the famous artist beginning his demonstration, and how we would first start on our paintings. It was information of color and brush stroke that I still retrieve in my mind even to this day, even after 50 years. We used oils for this workshop, and I am still in love with the smell of turps and oil paints, as much as all those wonderful days during that first workshop.

Mom would take me to our local park next to our lake, full of swamp things, huge pine trees, and gorgeous bald cypress trees with Spanish moss on almost every limb. She would draw and paint in watercolor the most beautiful scenes, and I would try my best to do what she was doing. But the most important thing I learned from these times was to look and see and try to capture real nature on paper.

RW: What drew you to horses?
MB: My love of horses goes way back about 56 years, when my mom and dad got our first horse for our family. I have owned and ridden horses ever since and found you could learn something new about them each day, and still have much more to learn. In 1985, I created a video of how to draw the horse anatomy and the simple and short “how-to” video was bought by Walt Disney Productions for its study and an upcoming animated movie. I was thrilled. In college, I still drew and painted horses, and at one point, one of my professors told me that if I would quit using bold colors and quit drawing and painting horses, I might become a good artist. This only made me want to explore the horse as a subject more, and use even bolder color. The true love of horses, my intense desire to know them and understand their psyche, their anatomy, the look in their eyes and their true desire to please you, has brought me to this point in my painting style with horses. It is the awareness of the beauty of this magnificent creature that I want to convey in my paintings. I want viewers of my work to understand how important this gift from God is, and the need to protect our wild horses in America and beyond.

RW: Some of your paintings have a dreamy quality while others are bold and passionate. How do you choose in which style you are going to paint?
MB: It is interesting that you ask about the “feeling” of a painting. Yes, I do have a sense of the emotion I want to convey in a painting before I begin. That feeling of “dreamy” in some of my paintings is just what I wanted to create. And when I am in a passionate phase, and want a big impact or huge drama, I use rich, deep, bold color, such as brilliant reds and rich royal violets. I do pay attention to the essence of color and how it affects the human emotion, but I also understand the matter of color theory. Using warm tones and hues brings things closer to the viewer and cooler tones and hues make it seem farther away or in shadow. I rarely use black, if ever, using instead mixtures of deep hues to create a rich dark paint where the eye would expect black.

RW: How has digital media and the internet influenced your work as a professional artist?
MB: The new technology, the digital media and the internet are the best things since “mom’s apple pie!” I try to stay on top of all the advances and can’t even imagine what will come next. I have always enjoyed photography and studied and worked as a photographic artisan for many years. The digital age of photography has just made everything better, although my “hand art skills” as a photographic artisan are now a lost art in the business world, I still enjoy the digital age and the ability to create grand compositions using photos and computer software. Ideas amass profusely and excite me when I am exploring new ideas for a new painting. The internet itself has proven to be a great friend and business partner. Through the internet, I have met so many wonderful people, art lovers, horse lovers and collectors of my works of art. It totally surprises me daily when new contacts come in asking about my work and comments and appreciation of my finished art.

RW: How do you work with clients who commission paintings from you?
MB: I welcome commission orders. Some of the collectors of my works of art return for specific subjects and compositions on commission. We talk by email and by phone and decide on subject, size, and client photos (if needed). Most of the time, requests come in for a painting based on some of my past sold works, and I enjoy those the most. The client will specify a specific size canvas or will ask my opinion on size that I feel is most appropriate for a particular subject. It is always a joy to bring their requests to completion and send the painting to the client for their first “reveal” upon opening their carefully prepared shipping package. I take great pride in every work I send out.

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