Painter Marie Najera



“I don’t usually have a preconceived notion of what I’m doing, I just kind of go for it,” she says. With her work, Najera “incorporates new languages and vocabularies as they pertain to current emotions, experiences, and her artwork’s designated spaces,” says Marie Najera. Marie paints stories of her life, and builds upon each layer to reflect a sense of permanence. Learn more about this artist and her latest in her Q&A with Barbarella Fokos below. First, enjoy this segment from Art Pulse TV, during which you will see inside Marie’s studio as the artist shares insights into her process, including hunting for found objects such as seed pods.


Credits: Executive Producer, Barbarella Fokos; Director, David Fokos; Segment Director, Tarek Albaba; Director of Photography, Chris Patterson; Editor, Tarek Albaba; Music, Ditto by DoKashiteru


BF: What are some of the highlights in your career since you were filmed for this segment?

MN: Since we last spoke I had my studio burn down and rebuilt. This tragedy ended up being an amazing plus in my life. I now have the studio of my dreams. Lots of headroom, a place to hide my mess and a gorgeous table designed just for me.

A peek inside Marie's newly built studio
A peek inside Marie’s newly built studio


BF: In what ways has your work changed in recent years?

MN: The content of my work has changed, it’s more clean and concise. My environment has changed so much that it’s allowed me to explore new ideas. Painting for over 20 years in make-shift studios, I feel like I am home in my new space. I am also designing a wonderful nest sculpture for a clients home in La Jolla. I am collaborating with my husband, [R.T. Lonsdale], on this project. We have always wanted to work together on a site-specific project. Our client has afford us this opportunity and we look forward to seeing it coming to fruition.

Nest Sculpture by Marie Najera and R.T. Lonsdale
Nest Sculpture model by Marie Najera and R.T. Lonsdale


Nest Sculpture in progress, by Marie Najera and R.T. Lonsdale
Nest Sculpture in progress, by Marie Najera and R.T. Lonsdale


BF:I’ve seen your work in a lot of restaurants around San Diego. Are these commissions? If they’re commissions, can you give us any insight as to how you approach a commission?

MN: Commission work is always necessary for an artist. I do three pieces so my collector has options when purchasing my work. I have found this allows them the opportunity to participate in the process. As far as restaurant work goes, I really only have worked in Mister A’s. I have a fabulous relationship with the owner and he allows me to have creative freedom. All the works are for sale and I continuously change the work out to make the environment more dynamic, not only for the people dining, but for the wait staff as well.

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A quote from the owner of Mr. A’s, referencing Marie Najera’s work


BF: In the segment, you mention Croatia a few times. What’s your connection to the country?

MN: Oh Croatia, my husband and I were married there about severn years ago. My dear friend and my husband’s mentor and professor, (the late) Petra Perisic, introduced us to a friend who lives on the island of Korcula. It’s a very magical place that inspires creativity. It’s a place where the pine trees meet the sea, where the days are long and lazy, a dip in the Adriatic might lead you on a chase with an octopus. Painting about the island always brings me peace and joy. I am looking forward to being back there this fall, collecting ideas for future exhibitions.

BF: In the segment, you also mention that your hammer is your favorite tool. Why is that?

MN: I love tools, it’s just part of being an artist. My lovely handmade hammer was a gift. It’s heavy, well, balanced, and gorgeous. I use it while hanging exhibition.

BF: What are a few of your current inspirations, and why?

MN: Edges, Molotow pens, and the color blue. I recent worked on a commission at the Union Bank building. They wanted a specific color palette, browns and blues. I found that the blues really spoke to me, it changed my layering process and made me go deeper into that process. I love the idea of making my work look like it could possibly go on, for instance as if there’s more on another canvas. That’s why I am inspired by edges, a small hint of color, a strip that leads your eye away from the middle of the painting. My son turned me on to Molotow pens. I love the look of a blurred line and the easy glide it possesses. It really lends its self to my work.

One of Marie Najera's latest paintings
One of Marie Najera’s latest paintings


BF: What are you working on now?

MN: I am currently working on a solo show for The Blue Azul gallery, which opens in the fall of this year. Submitting work to the Boston Museum of Art and negotiating with a gallery out there for representation. Of course I am extremely excited about seeing my Nest sculpture come to life in the next few months.

BF: You use many different materials in your pieces. What is your favorite(s) and why?

MN: Mixed media, it fits my style and process. I have a very chaotic process that lends its self to layering. News print, pen and ink, oil bars, found objects, it’s exciting to me to stack and layer these things. It’s like hoarding without the stigma.

BF: What is your dream project?

MN: My dream project right now is putting together my first exhibition in my studio. It won’t be my work, but the work of someone who’s never had the opportunity to show their work. There are a lot of young artists in San Diego and I will be focusing on helping them to get their work out there. Mentoring and collaborating is a wonderful way for me to give back, especially since I have received so much from the San Diego community in the last few years.

BF: Is there anything else you’d like to share?

MN: Only that I am very thankful for the life I lead, and it’s wonderful to see people like you promoting the arts. Thank you, thank you.

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