Getting to know Marissa Voytenko

September 11th, 2018


Who is, or has been, the biggest influence on your art?
I would like to say that God has. I know that I have been given the gift to create and it is such an incredible privilege. After that, my husband, my family and Marc Rothko.

Which of your works is your personal favorite and why?  
I don’t really have favorites. When I create each piece I ask myself, would I want to hang this up in my home? I have to find the work interesting enough to hold my attention and enjoy it in order to call it “done”. So, each work of art is the very best that I can give at that point in time. I don’t say to myself, “Ahh, good enough” and call it done. I have to feel proud of it.  I will say, though, that “40 Days and 40 Nights” is special to me because it was a collaboration created between my son and I. I have not done much collaboration with my children and the process was particularly endearing to me.

Of all your travels, which city or place inspires you the most? Why?
The California Redwoods still remains one of my favorite places in all of the world. The enormity of the Redwoods create an atmosphere of a great cathedral and the quiet hush of the breeze rustling through the pine is so calming. It is a place where my thoughts can be quieted and where I can feel rejuvenated. 

What inspired you to study to become an artist?
As a young child and adolescent, I was encouraged by my family to create. Because it was something I delighted in and was encouraged to do I continued to pursue the goal of becoming an artist. It wasn’t until after college that the fear of survival kicked in and I decided it wasn’t practical as a single woman. Instead, I became an art teacher and considered myself a teacher first and second, an artist. I think I was only living as half myself when I decided that. It wasn’t until I married that my husband urged me to pursue creating fulltime. When I decided to take that courageous leap of faith I felt fully myself again.

How long have you been working with your medium?
I was introduced to the encaustic medium 13 years ago and fell in love with it immediately.

Where do you get your inspirations for your work?
Inspiration comes from a myriad of places. I am most often driven to paint about social and ethical concerns.

What is your creative process like?
I begin by painting encaustic gesso onto a braced wood panel. Then I apply layers of encaustic medium or paint and use a blow torch to fuse the layers together. I think in grids, so I gravitate toward orderly compositions. These are created by painting, incising, transferring, collaging or stenciling images on the surface in rows or columns. The medium of encaustic begs for an abraded surface. Much of the layers that are added are then scraped off at a later time in order to reveal the actual depth created by the varied blankets of wax.

What are the most important factors you consider when you create your work?
Harmony and contrast are the two things that I gravitate toward when creating. I want the work to have a sense of calm without becoming too blasé’.

How has your practice changed over time?
When I began having children, my time in the studio significantly decreased. I am still fighting to regain that time, but I just remind myself that there is a season for everything. Because my ability to be in the studio is very limited, I try to be as efficient as I can so to get as much work accomplished as possible. I don’t work well after dinner either. When the kids are in bed at 8pm my brain has shut off. So, I am really bound to the daylight hours for productive work time.

What do you think is the most difficult aspect of making work? Why?
One of the most difficult things recently is quieting my mind so that I can receive what I need to in order to create. I am realizing that my life has become too busy and it is not all needed. I am just learning how to be present, particularly when I am painting.

What is something quirky or unexpected about you that most people don't know?
Many years ago I created a series of still-life drawings based on broken branches. I was so fascinated by the organic form of branches that if I found one on the ground I would pick it up and put it in my purse in hopes of using it at a later point. Many times, however, I would forget to retrieve them from my bag only to discover them broken, littering the lining of my bag.