Maureen S. Farrell

by Dana Kester-McCabe

Meet Maureen S. Farrell a Cambridge, Maryland artist who creates mixed media works. She takes an expressionistic approach to storytelling through collages depicting women walking singly or in groups.

Maureen S. Farrell was a postal carrier from rural New York who took up full time painting in her retirement. Initially she was just looking for something to relieve stress.

Maureen S. Farrell:
"In 1984 at the age of forty-seven, I was looking for a class in meditation. I was having a difficult time at work. My husband noticed a class for watercolor. I said, "I can't draw. I can't paint." And he said, "It will be meditative. Just try it." I took a beginners' class for adults. And, I absolutely loved it.

"From then I moved on to a local well known artist, and I was with her for a year. But then we moved. So I Karen Rosasko who became my mentor. She was able to see our strengths and literally draw them out from us. She gave me the tools and I've just gone gangbusters with them.

"The more I worked at it the better I got, the more passion I got to just get everything out of me. And now I wake up in the middle of the night with things going through my head, and I can't wait to get into my studio and get working up there.

I think that by me starting later in life, I have been a very good role model for my children, because they knew I didn't do art when they were growing up. And my grandchildren - they think Nana rocks! (Laughs) And my children do to, because I've set goals for myself each year and I've been attaining them."

Maureen has been accepted in a number of national and international shows and has begun winning prizes. She is currently completing work for a solo show at a prestigious Annapolis gallery next year. Moving to Delmarva has been good for Maureen's creative pursuits.

Maureen S. Farrell:
"We moved to the Eastern Shore in 2004 and, the first week that we were here I went to a reception for the Dorchester Center for the Arts to meet some arts so I could get in with a group. The Traveling Brushes were there and they made some suggestions about where to go and what to do. And, as my oldest daughter says, I hit the ground running when I retired.

"But, I think with my age comes a bit of maturity. I am at an age where I have a better sense of self. If I had become an artist earlier in life, I probably wouldn't be here in Cambridge because my whole life would have been different."

Influenced by a collage workshop she took last spring, she describes her current color palette as "happy colors." She is using a lot of jewel tone hues associated with the fall: yellows, oranges, and reds, with grass green and hints of blue.

Maureen S. Farrell:
"I am working in acrylics and mixed media now. I start out with absolutely no idea of what I am going to do. I put thin layers of acrylic on, and I scratch, and I stamp. And then I start collaging some papers on: paper towels, tissue paper, the inside of envelopes, anything that is going to give visual or feeling texture to it. And then I start turning the paper around to see if I can see anything."

"The last year or so I have been concentrating on figures. Then I start not necessarily throwing paint on but I use that term - throwing paint on, because I am just doing it at random. Sometimes I will put paint down and grab a piece of handi-wrap and roll a brayer on it and then lift it off, and turn it around. And. I make figures out of them."

"And it is exciting. It is very exciting because, I don't know where it is going. By doing it that way no one can say he doesn't look like that - or she doesn't look like that. There's as suggestion of a figure without it being anyone in particular. And, I am not putting faces on my figures so people can put themselves in my paintings."

Maureen's back ground as a postal carrier inspired her affection for landscapes, along with the textures, imagery, and design forms of text in magazines and letters. These seem to be recurring in her work now. Gaugin once said that it was best to paint from memory because "your own soul triumph's". This is a good way to describe Maureen's approach.

Maureen S. Farrell:
"Being a rural mail carrier, I spent my life in my car. And, I love to travel. So like I said I am not painting from photographs anymore. It's all coming out of my heart and my head, and where I've been before. And, it's evolving. And, I'm excited to see where it's going to go.

"I've been told by people that it's very emotional. I've come to realize that a lot of the figures actually are me at different stages of my life. There is something deep inside of me that is coming out. And, I am just going with it. I'm not forcing anything. I am just letting it happen."

Maureen's intuitive and experimental methods are born out of a joyful approach to the work which she suggests all new artists should try.

Maureen S. Farrell:
"I know starting out you are very serious but I would say if you can make it fun so that you can enjoy it, you will be amazed at how it flows better. I think that with every painting I've done when I gotten very serious with it, I've gotten very tight. And when I am playing and having fun, the work is better because you are freer. And not to take yourself so seriously, because there is always another sheet of paper and another canvas."

Maureen belongs to the Wednesday Morning Artists group, the Dorchester Center For The Arts, and the Main Street Gallery, all in Cambridge: