I am a painter of nature: birds, mammals, insects, plants and flowers. I am touched deeply by the mystery of the individual, the uniqueness of each mortal being. It appears, engages, and then is gone. I paint because it draws me closer to my fellow creatures, helps me understand them and connect to them. I “find” them as I draw, refine, and paint.

When an artist works, I believe a mysterious relationship develops between the artist and his/her subject. As she lays down line and color at first she seems to be in control. Gradually, however, the creature on the paper or canvas looks back at the artist and tells her what is needed to be complete. The relationship lasts through the painting process. When the work is done, a break is made and the creature stands alone.

I believe that color is the most important aspect of my work. My palettes range from strong, fully saturated complementary primaries and secondaries to represent the fever of life, to subtle tertiaries representing its more ephemeral aspect. Line, curve, rhythm bring more life to the paper. I work in both watercolor and gouache, employing both dry brush and wet-in-wet techniques. I work nearly exclusively with six primary colors laying down multiple glazes with little direct mixing.

I find most of my subjects in New York City where people tend to overlook the rich array of wildlife that surrounds them.  Nearly 300 varieties of birds visit Central Park annually. A red tailed hawk grabs its meal within sight of a group of commuters waiting for a bus on Riverside Drive. Raccoons live in the crypt of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, a wild turkey stalks Morningside Park, a coyote is caught in Central Park. Squirrels, starlings, blue jays, pigeons, monarch butterflies beginning their fall migration--it is all in front of our eyes providing an endless number of subjects. The five city zoos are great resources as are the botanical gardens and many lovely parks. I sketch and photograph throughout the city and then develop the paintings in my studio.

Another source of inspiration is the Hudson Valley. At least twice a year I spend time in a monastery north of Poughkeepsie. These semi-annual visits center me and provide an opportunity to observe wildlife on the river and along with banks of the Hudson.

© Marsha Ra
Artist's Statement