Norbert Marszalek, “DC Hotel Room” from the series Hotel Room Paintings, 2009, oil on canvas, 48″ x 60″
Here is another (long overdue) installment of our series, On Finishing.
Norbert Marszalek, of Chicago, tells us about his experiences this time. I asked Norbert to write this for us, intrigued by the fact that he has worked in a number of different modes over the course of his career. This is not a gadfly approach. Marszalek’s no dilettante. With each body of work, he spends years developing a palette, a way of moving the paint around, and a way of responding to subject. When a way of working plays itself out in the studio, he goes in a distinctly different direction. In addition to a long and respected career as a painter, Marszalek runs the popular online art magazine, Neoteric Art.
Are you a good closer?
When I was younger I had great difficulty finishing a painting. Not from an emotional standpoint but more, I hate to admit, out of boredom. Paintings would begin with great intention mixed with gusto but as time went on my focus and direction would be lost. That all changed as I matured as an artist. I see painting and actually the act of finishing a painting much differently now.
I’ve let my intuition take over and gotten out of my head. That was a huge positive step for me in the making of art. Now my work is always moving. It’s never static.
Once a painting is deemed finished it is done. All the struggles and conflicts end with each finished piece but that’s not to say I don’t continue my battles with the next painting. So yes, I consider myself a good closer.
Is it easy or difficult for you to be finished with a piece? Do you make a clean break or let it go kicking and screaming?
Some pieces take longer than others. Sometimes the solution comes quickly while other times it lingers. I feel the painting being finished from within. Either way, I don’t really struggle—it’s a clean break and the search starts again with the next piece.
When you call it done are you smiling? Is your relationship to finishing troubling to you at all?
I’m smiling. Hey, I’m fortunate enough to be able to create. This isn’t a bad gig. There is always a new painting for me to work on … thank goodness!
How do you see yourself compared to your peers, in terms of how easily you call an artwork finished? How much does the idea of calling things finished affect the type of painting you make or how you define yourself as a painter?
Everyone has their own process. I see peers hit blocks where they can’t work and others just keep cranking them out. Every artist finishes their work differently. For instance, there is a difference between finishing a tightly rendered representational piece as opposed to an abstract work—at least there is for me.
Any other thoughts on finishing?
In the broader sense, finishing a piece is a very personal endeavor. Every creative person does it their own way.
Thank you, Chris, for including me in your project. These questions were very interesting!
Norbert Marszalek, “Man with a Yellow Teapot”, ca. 2015, oil on canvas, 16″ x 20″