mara thompson

July 9, 2012

Mara Thompson is a very talented mixed media artist who also happens to live in my neighborhood, so I enjoyed being able to walk over to her studio the other week to chat more about her work. Her use of fascinating and diverse materials is very inspiring to me, as is the innovation she brings to her projects (everything from drawing to dying papers, painting, making use of an old typewriter, incorporating found and vintage materials, etc.). She inspires me to seek and experiment and let everything be a creative process.

I also like her collaborative spirit and her drive to network with other artists. One of her current collaborative projects involves 5 or 6 other artists who are continuing an unfinished story written by Rene Duamal:

Mara's art can be found on her website,

1.) When did you first start creating? Have you always been interested in art?

My first memory of creating falls into the venue of “play”…making a home for a colored cardboard caterpillar, likely from a cereal box, in a plastic strawberry basket. The grass was the cellophane from Easter time. It kept me rapt for hours…days.

Yes…but it was not named as such…it was a yearning for expression that I didn’t see possible in any other part of daily life. The something “Other." I would cut high school just to visit the new LACMA…wander around…go home again. Or I’d keep it close to home and cut classes to go to the library. It paid off, it was what I needed.

2.) When did you decide to become a working artist?

I always “worked” at drawing while raising my daughter and eventually working a twenty-year career….I decided to further study the arts when I left that career. I began to pursue a Fine Arts Certificate at a recognized art college. Eventually I began to work at that college just to check out what was happening…demystify the art world a bit.

3.) Where do you get the materials for your art? How did you become interested in your subject matter?

During my college continuing ed classes, the basic supplies were explained. After a time, long after finishing the courses, I learned which ones I really love to work with and how to focus on just those. In the beginning, I happily likened myself to an exuberant puppy stumbling over its own feet. I knew it would take time to settle. I found my love of vintage paper, images and materials has woven its way into my expressions. It was in my basic nature.

4.) What do you like best about the creative process?

The mystery of what appears. Knowing how to use the materials allows the thinking brain to relax and the subconscious to rise. One revelation leads to another. In the studio, there is no “time."

5.) What do you like least?

Not having MORE space to work in.

6.) What motivates you to keep creating?


7.) Art can sometimes be an isolating profession. Has art connected you to other people or impacted others in interesting ways?

Since I’ve been focusing on the art now for eleven years, coincidentally during the growth of social media, I’ve found world-wide artist friends and opportunities. It’s joyous and is opening many doors.

8.) If you had to choose a different profession, what would it be?

Been there, done that. It was what I had to do to make money for my family. A creator never retires.

9.) What are your creative dreams? (if anything is possible, what would you want to have happen?)

I’m happy and hope I continue to be as fortunate as I am to have time to devote to the studio. When it’s ready, a series will make itself clear that it’s ready to be shown around. I just need to be in the studio for that to happen. Simply – show up and work.

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