LOCAL ARTIST SPOTLIGHT
SEPTEMBER 2016 CLINTON COUNTY ARTS COUNCIL INTERVIEW
“I have been making art my entire life. When people ask the dreaded, ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’ my answer is consistently, ‘an artist.’ Over the years I have quit making art many times, feeling frustrated or without enough time to create. And inevitably inspiration finds me, I paint again and my world opens to new opportunities. My paintings, drawings and photographs speak emotions that words complicate. I value the non-verbal emotional conversation between artists and viewers; it creates a language that transcends our societal differences.”
Beyond her interest in communicating her emotions, art offers health for Olivo. “I had a lot of health struggles growing up and my art was like therapy for me, although I didn’t consciously acknowledge it at the time,” she said. “During elementary school I had a few lessons that taught the basics of perspective ... but I remember spending hours as a child drawing by myself.”
Olivo credits her high school art teacher with helping to foster her love of art. “She appreciated my work and made me feel very welcome in her classroom. I am grateful for her, she taught us the basics of showing art, encouraging us to create a personal style and somehow made it all enjoyable.” After graduating from Penn State, and feeling somewhat restricted in a 40-hour-per-week office setting, Olivo took up various part time jobs, often working two or more at a given time.
“I was sure I would lose my creative spirit in a cubicle! I also loved the interaction of the service industry,” she said, noting one of her favorite jobs was waiting tables. Today, she’s glad to have found a position she describes as “the perfect mix” for her personality and art career. She works part-time for a local rental office and construction company, which offers her a flexible schedule – allowing her to easily schedule appointments and personal art time.
“Painting, drawing and photography have become an activity that I share with my 13-year-old son,” Olivo shared. “He spends a lot of time drawing and building things. His unique sense of humor transfers to his art.”
She also wanted to thank those who follow her on Facebook, Mariannesart.
Describing her favorite medium, Olivo said she often uses heavy body acrylic paints. “I carve them out with palette knives. The paints dry quickly, allowing me to move as fast as the images I see flashing in my head, while retaining crisp bold colors. Oil pastels, colored pencils, watercolor crayons and pen and ink are also great for immediacy of bright color transfer.”
The artist is always seeking ways to improve upon her craft. “A college friend of mine, who is now an established painter in NYC, once told me many years ago that I needed to learn how to paint like I draw. My drawings feel very energized. I feel my work will have another level of impact when I learn to transfer that immediacy of movement into paint. Conveying the energy of the image source interests me the most, whether that source is a dream, a vision or a physical thing.”
She says inspiration at times comes from nature, but many times, her most well-received pieces begin from “a space of un-thinking. “When I distract my mind away from what I am creating, images, shapes, lines and colors appear ‘in front of’ the canvas. Perhaps that is ‘my mind’s eye’ ... So you could say I paint what I see in my mind’s eye,” she explains. “My paintings are like the feeling of a vivid dream – full of motion and emotion, lines and bold colors. Their meanings are interpretive. Each viewer brings their own life’s experiences to the art. The blend of the self and image gives each viewer a private show, so to speak. Abstract art is a way to glimpse what beliefs and experiences are inside each of us.”
Some of her favorite artists include Wassily Kandinsky, Georgia O’Keefe and Vincent van Gogh. Olivo said she appreciates Abstract Expressionism, as she feels it stretched the boundaries of art and opened the door for new thoughts and perspectives about art.
“Kandinsky’s theories on the spiritual in art fascinate me the most. I only learned of him after a college professor said I was referencing his style. It was a shock to him that I hadn’t yet learned of Kandinsky. I love that, unbeknownst to me, some of my early college art work is strikingly similar to some of his work,” she said.
Olivo is clear that beyond being an entrepreneurial endeavor, her artistic creations are truly a gift for her soul. “[My art] has kept me grounded and brought me back to who I am several times after long breaks,” she said, adding, “I continue to study and explore different avenues of financial prosperity with art in Central PA while working my part-time jobs. Learning more about computers was really important. I recently designed a website for a local construction company. I am working online with my Facebook art page and have connected with some other online artists who showcase my work. Finding a great printmaker has also opened many doors. It allows me to offer quality pieces at affordable prices. Being involved locally with small groups, while building online communities, seems to be the wave of the future for the arts.”
Olivo, who has been involved with the Clinton County Arts Council in various capacities over the last 10 years or so, first got involved during the Lock Haven Art Walks. She was teaching at the time and was focused on events allowing the public to experiment with making art.
Her favorite thing about her involvement with the CCAC is the frequently changing CCAC shows at The Station Gallery, which provides a quiet space to see art up close on a regular basis.
“I had the privilege of helping to assign awards for the children’s show. It was fun and refreshing to see such uninhibited images,” she said, noting the CCAC’s role in providing invaluable creative experiences for youngsters in the area. Olivo also congratulated the local art teachers who are leading strong art programs.
*For more info on the CCAC or my own work contact me at or on fb at facebook.com/mariannepaints365.