This week’s cover artist captures the childlike exuberance of flying through the air on a swing. Like the month of May, there’s a sense of joy and optimism in Marla Mencher’s impressionistic palette. Living and working in East Northport, Mencher recently included this particular painting in the Art League of Long Island exhibition Motion in Art & Art in Motion, which took place at the Jeanie Tengelsen Gallery in Dix Hills. Her voice matching the cheerfulness of the painting, Mencher talks about her art.
What is the title of this work?
“The Girl on the Swing.” It’s my friend’s daughter. He had taken that picture of her and I came across it a few weeks ago and thought it would be perfect for an entry for the motion exhibition. I had just gotten over some retina surgery, so this would be a great challenge. I have painted my whole life—I do a lot of portraits. The picture that he had taken was at dusk, so her face looked completely different. I kept changing it, giving it motion in the brushstrokes.In the photo, you could hardly see the face, so I made it more realistic—I wanted to give it that exhilarating feeling of being a kid, flying backward on the swing. Now I’m doing another one for a figure show, this one is of my son. Since I do a lot of portraiture, I’m entering it for the upcoming East End Arts show in Riverhead.
This is your first cover for Dan’s Papers.
Yes, it’s very exciting. It’s also my first painting being published. I’ve been in a number of shows, but this would be the first time in a publication. I’ve known Dan’s Papers for a long time because we always see it when we visit our friends in Montauk.
What medium did you use for this painting?
I used oil for this one. I do a lot of pastels, so my style is similar in both. The background has that feeling of motion, a blurred effect. I combined impressionism with the realism of the girl. I work in a lot of media—acrylics, oils—I also do drawings.
How did you get your start in painting?
I started painting when I was a child, and was fortunate that my parents were very encouraging. I went on to pursue art in college in Albany, and went on to graduate school at C.W. Post. I was doing art and then got into the jewelry business. I’m also a goldsmith and silversmith, so I do a lot of designing and sketching ideas for clients. I also teach jewelry making and art at the Art League and for high schools.
What do you encourage your students to pursue?
I encourage them to try their best. I always point out the good things, and get excited about their work. I try to have them be their own person—just because it doesn’t look like someone else’s, doesn’t mean it’s not good. Positive feedback is very important. It may not be a great piece of art, but whatever I see that is good, that’s the thing I bring out. And then I’ll tell them, “You have to do this, this and this,” to make it better. They’re growing and really learning.
Marla Mencher does portraits of both people and animals, in drawings, paintings and in jewelry. To contact her, send an email to [email protected].