Tappan Collective : Marleigh Culver Artist Residency

Last month, Hotel June hosted burgeoning artist and graphic designer Marleigh Culver for the latest installment of its artist residency program. Culver is Los Angeles-based, characterized by an abstract and romantic aesthetic, often focusing on plants as subject matter. The use of color throughout her work is both considered and playful, reflecting the artist’s own effervescent personality.

Culver’s work is sold exclusively with Tappan Collective, a California-based company reinventing the approach to discovering and collecting global contemporary art. The digital gallery presents a curated selection of art from global emerging and career artists and photographers. Throughout her residency, Culver worked on new paintings for an upcoming collection.

Tell us about yourself and how you came to be an artist

Hi! I am Marleigh and am based in Los Angeles. I work as a designer, creative consultant and artist. I have always loved art and started painting abstract and making conceptual work when I was a teenager. I always knew and dreamed of being an artist, but never thought I could make it work as a living. I got a design degree while dabbling in creative endeavors on the side. I’ve grown up creating on a computer since I was really young, and that led me to design, and using the computer and design skills to create artworks that feel organic and unique.

What is your creative process?

I love using technology to my advantage to make the process of painting more focused and planned. I do plenty of sketches and color palettes per piece I make until it feels right. Sometimes I’ll sketch on paper, bring it into photoshop, and edit it from there. I mix all my paint colors myself because that relationship and process is really special and fun to me. The whole process of prepping and painting is really meditative.

What draws you to painting?

I love the feeling and look of a painting, during the process and after its complete. There is something about the medium of painting that transcends time. I love a painting with not context, I love that a whole world can exist within it and it is not always obvious to the viewer. It’s a package of reaction, feeling, craft, want, hurt, etc. I really enjoy making a mess with painting as well, messy hands and drips on the canvas. It just feels very alive.

Where do you draw inspiration from?

Pretty much everything! I’m always inspired by the creation of nature, I love the symmetry or strange shapes we as humans had no hand in making. I grew admiring large scale painters and abstract artists. Looking at them in museums felt like a portal to a different world. I love the power of color in nature as well. The cyclical idea of appreciating nature, while growing plants, learning about new creatures and flora, making work about it. I find it all so grounding and comforting.

When do you make your best work?

I make my best work when I have sketches locked in, and go from there using them as a guide. I like quiet, or I watch romantic or fantasy movies. I’m always interested in fantasy, I think that’s why I make such color-focused abstract work. I love to daydream. So I make my best work when I can focus solely on comforting myself and setting a beautiful environment to work in.

What influence does your environment (Hotel June for instance) have on your work?

Having open space, amazing lighting, and lovely objects and things to make the work enjoyable and comfortable is so important. Home as shelter to humans really effects us, the quality of the spaces we live in, or at least for me, really directs my mood. When I am in a space with thoughtfully made furniture and decorations it feels cared for and inspiring to be in.

What messages or emotions do you hope to convey through your art?

I’ve always wondered how I want to come off in my work. I love beauty, but that’s not really an emotion. I think the work I make is about feeling something like love or having a reaction in a positive and happy and loving way is important. I don’t really make dark-feeling work, it’s not something I feel comfortable doing through painting at the moment. I have a lot of bad dreams and feel negative things very deeply, so I stray away from that in work to not bring myself down. I hope my work connects to people and gives them an escape.

Who are some creative people who have influenced you?

I have always admired the monumental-feeling works of Helen Frankenthaler, Andy Warhol’s illustrations and screen prints, Henri Matisse’s people and interior paintings, Lee Krasner’s loose-ness, Frank Stella’s color and geometry, and Ellsworth Kelly’s shapes and unique canvas outlines and plant drawings. All classics that have driven me to where I am today.

What makes you excited about the future?

Possibility is endless, as as I gain more experience and am able to have resources to make things I want as well as space. I’m excited for creating a beautiful world where I can. I’m excited to keep evolving and experimenting in other mediums in my work.