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From my art studio: Lineth Márquez

Lineth Márquez is a Panamanian painter who achieved the exhibition of her artwork in New York, thanks to Artelista. Today she is the protagonist in "From my studio".

1. When and why did you start painting?

Ever since I was a little girl, I felt drawn towards painting and enwrapped in the colors. I even used my mother's make-up to paint, when I had used up all my crayons and colored pencils. I was always full of creativity, I liked to imagine and create off those ideas! That calling to art was always present in my life, even though I studied Marketing and Advertising in college. I do consider those subjects to be related to art, because in the same way that a piece of art brings us to pause and reflect on what the artwork is conveying, with advertising we have to create in order to communicate our messages in an understandable manner.

The big moment came as I was wrapping up my college studies. I participated in a cultural exchange program with the European University of Madrid, and once in Europe I dedicated my time to visiting museums. It was love at first sight to see the works of Velázquez and Goya in the Prado Museum, the works of Sorolla in his house museum and the works of Van Gogh in The Netherlands. Recently in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City I saw the works of Picasso and all the art masters. Not to mention the sharply focused sculptures and paintings of Botero in Colombia and the great luck at being invited to visit a private collection of Guayasamín belonging to some honorable people, who are now also friends of mine.

I feel like a kid in a candy store, excited and happy, whenever I visit a museum. Standing in front of artwork, I can lose track of time. I get inside the skin of the artist who painted the work and try to figure out what he or she was thinking about in the moment of creation.

2. When is your favorite time of day to paint? How much time do you spend painting?

There's no specific time for me. At any time of day I can seek out my brushes-- when I'm happy, when I'm sad, when someone or something inspires me. Since I am currently preparing for my upcoming national and international exhibitions in early 2013, now I'm completely immersed in my painting the whole day; there's no clocking in with my canvas, I am absorbed in my passion for painting all day long.

That said, I have done some of my best paint strokes in the early morning hours. If people are divided into "early birds" and "night owls", I consider myself a night owl. Around sunset I begin to create with this relentless torrent of energy, and keep going until dawn breaks. After the moon fades away and the first intense rays of sunshine beam out, then I fall asleep for a few hours, before continuing work.

3. Of all the pictures that you have painted, which one is your favorite, and why?

My paintings for me are the children that I do not have, because I have birthed and brought each of them to life with emotions, dedication, tenderness, happiness, sadness. I have created them with much love, and in the end they give me many rewards, and make me feel satisfied.

While I love all of them equally, there is one that I am specially fond of because it was my first creation, my 'firstborn', which sparked my passion for my country's indigenous elements and has given me so much satisfaction. It is titled"Pre-Columbian Indian Splendor", and that artwork prompted me to continue painting native Panamanian motifs. Really, they are all my favorites, I love them all the same!

4. If you could reincarnate yourself as a great master of art, who would you like to become?

Life is so beautiful that I would not want to have to die in order to become reincarnated as one of them. If I could choose, I would prefer instead to continue in this life, but incorporating their virtues, taking a little bit of the best from each. I would like some of Goya's passion, Velázquez's delicate brushstrokes, Botero's clarity, Van Gogh's persistence, Sorolla's strength, Frida's rawness, Guayasamín's native pride, and I could go on and on...all of the great artists inspire me! I want a little bit from all of them in me, but most importantly, while still being myself.

5. What are your sources of inspiration?

Everything inspires me. They say we all have a little bit of artists, poets and lunatics in us. I like to write poems and am a member of a network of writers. Some poems inspire me to paint, and some paintings inspire me to write poems. I'm also inspired by sunrises, the moon in all its splendor, indigenous elements of my country.

I'm particularly drawn to people's gazes, because I agree with the belief that our eyes reflect our soul. I think that "Silence may bind our words, but nobody and nothing can restrict our soul when reflected in our eyes." That's why I enjoy painting expressive looks on the faces of indians and peasants. I also like painting dances and folklore, everything that expresses my roots. I love anything that screams 'Panama'. I'm aware that every artist evolves and perhaps at some point finds other sources of inspiration, but for now I am enjoying this moment.

6. Of all the artistic movements, which one influences your work the most?

Just as I proudly say that I am of a mixed race, the product of different cultures that have come to Panama, my works of art are a mix of everything. Because I believe that in life, combining refreshes us, enriches us, endows us with new aspects; it's like adding instead of subtracting. Even though I could change at any moment to different techniques and trends, Impressionism always prevails in me, as the Impression shows reality. I especially like to use Impressionism in the faces and eyes; I seek to make them appear clearly defined. I would almost like to bring them to the point of hyperrealism, practically photographic, but blurring the rest, letting it nearly disappear into the canvas. I will always make an effort to have the looks, faces and expressions of my canvases be memorable.

On the other hand, I like Expressionism for the way it handles light, for allowing me to intuitively express myself, without censoring anything that flows from my inner being. I like my paintings to be full of vivacious colors, almost violent in the way the colors contrast, especially red, the color of blood, and green, the color of nature. I view both pigments as the elixir of life, the colors of creation.

7. What does art mean to you? What role does it play in your life?

To me, art means 'expression', because it allows us to convey what we feel, to understand what others feel or were feeling. Art is a daily part of my life; it's in everything that I see, touch, hear. It sends me a type of message that turns into a lesson, a poem that inspires me to create, to paint. Everything related to art allows me to be who I am and express my sentiments. Every day in life we face the challenge of making ourselves understood.

Art has given me many rewards, has led me to cross borders, meet interesting people, make a name of myself in my country and now abroad too. Art lets me be myself and transpose my ideas onto canvas. It drives me to build up my dreams, and gives me a reason to live every day.

I think that life is like a canvas, and with our daily actions we add little splashes of paint and detailed brushwork to our grand piece of art work. It's up to you to decide on the colors, contrasts, brightness and shadows. In the end, everyone will be held responsible for their own creation, so I say "Try to add some color to the canvas of your life."

8. This year you had the opportunity to display your artwork in the New York show called Eclecticism. What can you tell us about that experience?

First and foremost, I want to thank Artelista for the opportunity given to all of us who are here exhibiting our work so that it can be discovered and appreciated. In my case, I had been showing my artwork for a couple of years, when out of the blue I was contacted to participate in the Eclecticism exhibition in New York. Artelista gives everyone the same opportunity, because apparently the curators and art critiques monitor artwork from Artelista, and they had an eye on my work. When they got a hold of me, I actually thought it was some prank, because I didn't know anybody from the competitive art world in the United States, much less in New York. I could hardly believe it! But after a few phone calls and emails I could confirm that it was true. I felt nervous, but very excited. I will always be deeply grateful to Artelista for having made this possible.

The experience was unforgettable. The news reached the media and from that moment they called me, "the artist who reflects the indigenous Panamanian." I began to feel like a real artist! I proudly brought my roots, portrayed in my paintings, to New York, specifically to Soho, the world-famous art district of Manhattan. Through my artwork I explained the background behind the native body painting, folklore, clothing, Pre-Columbian pottery, and at that moment I felt like the ambassador of my country abroad, representing my culture. It was my first exposition, and international at that! In New York! It is an amazing place, such a contrast from my canvases. I wandered the streets and enjoyed art at its finest, from museums to street art. It all enriched me and inspired me.

I give thanks to God, to Artelista and the Arte Ganexa university in Panama, where I took my first classes and made my first brushstrokes. I would also like to thank my teacher, the Panamanian artist Blas Petit, my whole family, all my friends and supporters who encouraged me. Thanks also to Ward Nasse Gallery, the curators Leda Prado and Gigi Gafoglio, who discovered my work in the Artelista portal and, without even knowing me, saw the potential to become part of this great experience. Thanks to everyone who continue to open doors for new exhibitions at home and abroad.