Artist Spotlight: Marlise Newman

Ballard Designs Exclusive Artist Marlise Newman

Exclusive Artist Marlise Newman in her art studio

As part of our Exclusive Artist Program, we’re collaborating with a handful of independent artists whose work can only be found in galleries to bring their creative vision to our customers. They create artwork exclusively for us — you won’t find these pieces anywhere else — and you get to enjoy the next best thing to original art at an affordable price.

We’re excited to introduce one of our newest Exclusive Artists, Marlise Newman. A North Carolina native, Marlise lives and works in Charlotte, but you can find her work in galleries across the southeast. Read our Q&A and find out what inspires this amazing artist whose work we admire.

Ballard Designs: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your path to becoming an artist.

Marlise Newman: Well, like the book says, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” It was that early that my artistic talent showed up. Throughout my early years, I was singled out as the creative one and put to work on many creative and artistic projects. So when it was time for college, I sought out the path that would be the quickest and most direct way into the creative world to make a living, which was advertising art and design.

BD: Did you come from a creative family?

MN: Yes, I’m from a family of artists and musicians. I’m the oldest of six children, and each one of us has such a creative streak that we’ve made our living one way or another through design or some creative endeavor. My dad always drew and taught me to draw at an early age. His sister was a nationally known watercolorist. So, yes, I would say my family is quite creative.

Marlise Newman's painting in her art studio

BD: Once you earned your design degree, did you pursue a creative career or did you immediately become a professional artist?

MN: Actually, I worked in graphic design until I started a family, and then I took time off to raise children. When my kids were older, I had a graphic design freelance business and an interior design business. Eventually, though, I really wanted to be a painter. So it was about 20 years ago that I started on that journey to becoming a professional painter. That’s when I started showing my art and getting into galleries.

BD: How would you describe your art?

MN: It has definitely evolved from representational to representational with a twist — more abstracted images and work that is seeking to make you wonder.

BD: Why has your art evolved to more abstract?

MN: I like the freedom of it and not being tied to this perfect image or beautiful landscape. It’s always intrigued me to do things in a different way. There’s this line, “it’s not what you paint but how you paint it,” and I’m really into the “how” right now. How can I make this different and put the edge on it, so that people want to look closer and think longer about the painting? I want to see how it speaks to the viewer. 

Exclusive Artist Marlise Newman

BD: What influences your work and what drives your palette?

MN: The older I’ve gotten, I have a little more understanding of myself and realize that I’ve always had the ability to flow from one thing, style or subject to another. Similarly, I feel inspired by so many things: photography, travel, art and other artists and music. I stay close to my basic palette, but I can be inspired by paint swatches, interiors and classic palettes from the masters. I’m more of an intuitive painter, so I really don’t plan out the palette completely, leaving room to fall in love with particular colors and relationships. I have a strong desire to do work that is different, not predictable. I’m constantly working on that.

BD: Can you describe your creative process and what a typical day in the studio looks like?

MN: I’m a morning person, but I’ve discovered that at about four in the afternoon, I get into a creative zone. Sometimes it depends on what my day brings, but I like to get in there early and paint and at least get started, then wait for that creative zone to kick in. Some days when I’m waiting, I’ll  prepare the surfaces and work on the layers  — I thrive on having many different works and styles in process at once, so I can go from painting to painting. I get really bogged down and uninspired when I find myself laboring over the same painting for hours and days. I need some smaller faster things going to keep my creativity fresh. It’s all just a fun flow or a reaction to my creative urges.

Marlise Newman's painting, They Call Me Yellow

BD: We are so excited to have you as an exclusive artist and the opportunity to sell your artwork that our customers won’t find anywhere else. Why did you decide to work with Ballard?

MN: Believe it or not, I’ve received and loved and ordered from the Ballard Designs catalog for years and years! Working with Ballard had been a secret dream, and one day I just decided to go for it. I’m thrilled for the opportunity.

BD: How do you envision people enjoying your art in their homes?

MN: I recently sold a painting to a collector who picked up the painting in my studio. When she came in, she clasped her heart and sighed and just stared with quiet happiness. I just want people to feel a connection with my art deep in their soul. I am always amazed and humbled when this happens.

Browse all of Marlise’s Artwork, or see more interviews with our Exclusive Artists.

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Caroline McDonald

Caroline lives for pairing together patterns, mixing furniture styles, and oogling over our newest furniture pieces. As you can imagine, her little 1920's craftsman is in a constant state of flux. Here on How to Decorate, it's her goal to help you turn your home into your own little slice of paradise.