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Style Magazine

Spotlight On Folsom's Marie Gonzales

Growing up as a cartoon-doodling child in Yokohama, Japan, Marie Gonzales would later find her passion for pastels after moving to Hawaii and being influenced by Honolulu’s incredibly unique beaches and sunsets. After marrying and relocating to Folsom, Gonzales continued to hone her skill, creating colorful, intricate nature and city scenes from both her travels as well as her beloved new community. “When I moved here, I realized I’d missed out on the four seasons and their distinct changes: cold nights, flower-blooming spring, hot but dry summer, and beautiful autumn leaves,” shares Gonzales. “Being able to continue taking classes at Sutter Street Pastels has been an added bonus; the people of Folsom have been good to me!” Gonzales recently received an award of merit at the California State Fair fine art competition for her pastel work. For the 6th time now, she will be featuring one of her works at the upcoming KVIE Art Auction (October 4-6).  

HLN: What draws you to pastels?   

MG: I like pastels best because they’re forgiving and the colors are pure. I like to blend with my fingers and they let me do that; I can layer different shades to create depth and shadows. The challenges of working with pastels would be the dust—it’s messy and gets all over you. I also have a problem storing the finished artwork because you can't stack them as they’re so fragile. One wrong swipe on the surface and your artwork is gone!

HLN: How did living in Japan and Hawaii influence your art?  

MG: Growing up in Japan, I was exposed to manga and animation from a young age so I’d always try to copy drawing those characters. However, the only formal instruction I had was my art class in school. In Hawaii, I met award-winning pastel artist Wayne Takazono and took lessons from him. I tend to focus on details as he does in his works. Being there also gave me numerous opportunities to paint the breathtaking sunsets and powerful waves. 

HLN: Where do you seek inspiration now?  

MG: When I'm on trips I take a lot of pictures, thinking they’ll be a possible reference. I’ll take hundreds of pictures but end up only considering a handful. When I go back to Japan, I take pictures of traditional things like temples, shrines, and city scenes.

HLN: Do you have a favorite work?  

MG: My favorite is also the one that took the longest to finish—the Chinatown scene from my hometown. It took 126 hours (almost three months) to finish. The gate is intricate with so many decorative aspects that it was difficult getting it right. I also had to use my magnifying glass to see what tiny symbolic animal figures were at the top. The whole piece to me was like a puzzle I created and finished. 

HLN: What do you hope your art conveys? 

MG: When I'm painting, it's relaxing and fun. It would be my pleasure if I could give my viewers the same happiness my art gives me. I want them to wonder where this is, what the people in the painting are doing, why I chose this subject, as well as enjoy all the different colors I used to create one item.