At the age of 16, one of Marianne Nix's linocuts was selected for an exhibition at the Oxford Museum of Modern Art. Her art has grown from strength to strength ever since and she has gone on to be selected twice for the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, as well as being included in the V&A's print collection.
Marianne is an artist of many trades, and describes herself as both painter and printmaker. Her works are beautifully crafted, and often depict life on Hampstead Heath. Discover her exciting new paintings and read more to find out the secrets of her success.
On becoming an artist
As a child I loved making things. I have been inspired by my aunt Nelleke Nix since spending weeks at her farmhouse in the Netherlands as a child. She encouraged me to make things to keep busy.
At the age of 11, Nora Stroink a friend of my grandmother and established Dutch Artist was commissioned to paint my portrait (by my Grandmother). I Spent a week with Nora in her studio while she painted me in oil. I believe the wonderful time I spent around her, and her creativity inspired me to become a full time artist.
At 16 one of my linocut prints was selected for an exhibition at the Oxford Museum of Modern Art, which was hugely encouraging.
I was brought up in the middle of the woods, and spent a lot of those years outside wandering. Consequently, wildlife and nature are a big part of both me and my work.
Home life was troubled and making things was an escape. Escaping also meant being financially independent. After completing my foundation course I decided to study a BA in Fashion Design rather than continuing with FIne Art.
My choice led to me having a very varied career; I have directed television programmes about culture and also studied an MA in Design for Interactive Media - which led me to the world of mobile phones.
About 15 years ago I decided the corporate world was not for me, and that in order to be fulfilled I had to be a full time artist. Making art is a wonderful obsession.
On being an artist
I love researching an idea and experimenting with techniques and materials. I try to use the best quality materials that I can afford. For me, an artwork is both an idea and an object of beauty. I create both paintings and prints and enjoy using luscious materials, such as natural pigments and oils. Making my work keeps me engaged, frustrated and mostly happy with what I am achieving.
On the studio
I used to spend two hours a day travelling to and from an affordable studio space in London, but now I am very lucky because my studio is at home in our living room. I get to spend those two extra hours on my artwork.
I live next to Hampstead Heath in London. I'd like my work to speak of my natural surroundings and also the nearby hustle and complications of city life. My studio is light and airy; I have times where I play music and also times where I need complete silence.
Currently I am interested in the legacy of the ideas that make us. When walking on Hampstead Heath I think about many notables and their ideas: writers, artists, poets, philosophers. I like to think of who walked there before me.
I was lucky enough to visit Antarctica a couple of years ago, and it was here that I started to think about making an artwork that referenced those who had been there before me.
I went off on a slight tangent when I came across Joseph Hooker, an important 19th century naturalist and explorer who travelled with James Clark Ross. They completed an Antarctic expedition in the mid 19th century. He was the leading botanist of his day and the director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew between 1865 and 1885.
Joseph became a life long friend and correspondent of Charles Darwin in 1843. The archives of JD Hooker’s life, now housed in Kew, are a rich source of ideas to inspire new work.
I am fascinated by the exchange of ideas in their letters, which actually feature in the painting ‘My Dear Darwin’ and my series featuring the Rhododendron. I often wonder how much longer everyone will know how to write by hand; it is such a personal and intimate way of communicating.
Being an artist is not easy. Everything must come from nothing. The work manifests in my mind and then the making process is filled with the fear that what I create may not match my aspirations.
The only way to go forward is to just take the plunge! Sometimes it takes days of procrastination before I get to the making stage.
When everything comes together it feels like meditation. My work requires intense concentration. Although many things can go wrong, these mistakes can sometimes actually add to the success of the piece.
Open calls and exhibition deadlines help me to get on with things. In 2012 and 2013, I was fortunate enough to be selected for the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, the largest open submission exhibition in the world.
On other artists
I am always looking at other artists’ work. I like to visit The Sir John Moore Prize, a biannual open submission that is said to be the ‘Oscars’ of painting shows. I enjoy going because it displays current ideas around painting in the UK.
I go to as many exhibitions as I can. For me there is nothing like seeing an artwork in the flesh.
Artfinder is a pioneer in using the internet to make life easier for artists and art lovers. Through Artfinder, I have connected with art buyers from both all over the world and right on my doorstep. Without it, it really would be impossible to connect with so many people.
I have loved meeting three of my many Artfinder buyers; they visited my studio or have lived near enough to me, to allow me to personally deliver the artwork. One of my Artfinder customers has recently bought his seventh Marianne Nix artwork!
On the future
I was thrilled to have one of my etching and aquatints included in the V&A museum print collection this year.
I exhibit every year at Hampstead Affordable Art Fair with i-contemporary gallery and have just exhibited at the Affordable Art Fair Battersea this October, which was a huge success. I have also been selected by Norman Ackroyd RA to be included in ‘The Masters’ at Bankside Gallery, London on the 9th-20th November 2016.
I am looking forward to starting work on my Antarctic series and - all being well - will be exhibiting this work as an invited artist at Crouch End Open Studios next May, and then at the Affordable Art Fair Hampstead in June 2017.
Advice to other artist
For me the most important thing is to have some friends who are artists with whom you can discuss your work and ideas. My artist friends are an invaluable group, and having them can not be underestimated. Some of them are here on Artfinder!
The Artfinder Artist Forum is full of interesting questions and answers that help us to move forward in this challenging life that we have chosen.