Artist of the Month September 2012


Marie Gardeski

Fort Wayne, Indiana

I was born and grew up in Grand Rapids, MI. I received my BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art and my MFA from the Cranbrook Academy of Art.

How and when did you start creating art?

I can’t remember not making art. That is, if you consider sloppy finger-painted pages and lumps of sticky sawdust art. Both of my parents are creative. There was never a shortage of scrap paper in our house, a stash in every closet, brushes in the laundry room, adhesives in the basement. I spent most of my free time as a kid in the yard with a sketchbook, in my dad’s workshop with glue and wood-scraps, in the woods tying twigs into teepees, or in the driveway sorting stones…I guess not much has changed.

What media and genres do you work in?

I draw with graphite, gouache and watercolor on paper. Sometimes a dash of coffee or beet juice makes it onto the page. I also create mixed media installations, usually involving creating multiples of things - most recently hundreds of tiny pillows and cushions.

Who or what are your influences?

I love looking at old family photos and images in National Geographic Magazines from the 50s and 60s. My desk is always a tangle of small plastic animals and plant-forms. I am inspired by strange stories, punch-lines of jokes and random occurrences. Like a boy riding his bicycle across the street with three eggs in one hand. I try not to be influenced by the work of other artists, but I do enjoy looking at drawings by Marcel Dzama and Allyson Melberg Taylor. And I can’t help but be influenced and inspired by the work of my husband, David Birkey.

Brain Burst began with a very old box of tiny wooden pegs purchased at a thrift store. I drew these pegs in piles, organized rows and floating in space. At some point this little girl slid out of my pencil onto a blank piece of paper. The next thing I knew there were tiny pegs tumbling out of her head. Of course, a creature had to be controlling the pegs (and therefore her mind), so this bear-beast appears, conductor of the burst.

Describe your creative process?

Most of my drawings develop like Brain Burst. They start with an element or a character, one thing suggests another and each drawing develops into a somewhat cryptic vignette. I don’t plan or sketch a piece before beginning. I like to be surprised by what appears on the paper. This makes the marks more immediate, exciting and sometimes wobbly. I do enjoy drawing various creatures and plant-forms from all angles in my sketchbook…But that’s mostly for practice, less for reference.

What are you working on currently?

I’m currently working on a series of drawings inspired by author’s portraits from old dust jackets. I’m also excited about some drawings and designs that will be printed on t-shirts, tote bags and paper goods to be sold at

What are your near/long term goals as an artist?

I would really like to create, exhibit and sell more drawings.

Where can people view/purchase your work (gallery, website, etc)?

My work can be viewed on my website: Prints of my work can be purchased at: .

Open Imagination

Brain Burst - 7 x 8.5”, 2011, Graphite, watercolor

Open Imagination

Aquarium Dad - 5.5 x 6”, 2011, Graphite, watercolor, acrylic

Open Imagination

Tempt - 6 x 7.5”, 2011, Graphite, watercolor, acrylic, colored pencil

Open Imagination

Ready or Not - 6 x 6”, 2011, Colored pencil, graphite, watercolor

Open Imagination

Pluck - 6 x 6”, 2011, Colored pencil, graphite, watercolor

Open Imagination

Aunt Betty in Repose - 8 x 8”. 2012, Graphite, watercolor, colored pencil

Artist Website
All Images @ Marie Gardeski
All Rights Reserved

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