Toronto Tuesdays: Mazarine Memon

Wowza! I mean, how stunning is the above photo? Mazarine is an all-around classy lady — she exudes confidence and has a very calming presence about her; even just the sound of her voice puts me right at ease. Mazarine is epically talented and has a heart for sharing her gift to better our world. She is an artist through and through. Welcome to Toronto Tuesdays, Mazarine! It’s an honour to host you today.

What’s your favourite creative medium? What draws you to expressing yourself this way?

I have always been a fan of oil paints because there was a time when I enjoyed painting portraits. Oils allow the flexibility of walking away and coming back to the work the next day, without the paint drying out. I enjoy the process of blending and layering slowly, especially when working on portraiture. However, the past decade I have a new love for acrylics and mixed media. My work over the past several years, has evolved from realism to abstract figurative and with that has come a new way of creating. I call it, ‘Mysteries in Colour’ acrylic inks and fluid acrylics are my go-to when I start a piece. I start with an inkblot with an intent in mind, and once that dries, I tease out familiar forms defining them ever so lightly so that the viewer sees what I see. I love this process for two main reasons; I can see forms I missed when I look at the piece in a different light or on a different day, but what truly connects me with this process and this medium is that the viewer tends to notice shapes and forms I didn’t put there or see. This engages the creativity of the viewer, and this is how ‘the collector/buyer’ connects with a painting they commission and buy from me. Hence, acrylics has become a medium I can experiment with and marry other mediums, like charcoal, graphite powder, pencils, and oil pastels with. And because the medium is fast drying, I am able to complete a painting far quicker than I would an oil painting.

What inspires you to create?  

It is hard to say if there is one single thing that inspires me. Sometimes I could be in a room full of people, having a conversation and someone says something insightful gets me wondering how I could depict this in a series of paintings. My very first collection was inspired by an article written on Rajasthan (a Northwestern State in India). I was on a holiday and the inflight magazine had a beautiful picture of a Rajasthani woman. Of course, I painted her! But it also resulted in a collection of works for a solo show in Bombay (Mumbai) called ‘Gharra’ – (Clay pot). It was a series of 16 works, showing women in Rural India fetching water in a clay pot from the village well. I used the clay pot as a device to illustrate the physical and emotional burden women carry in rural India working in the field, carrying water home, reinforce the walls of her home with cow dung, caring for her family, and toiling over a fire pit to put together a meal, etc.

Creating has been the only thing that allows me to be me, it is my voice and my identity. Creating helps me articulate my thoughts and opinions visually in my signature style.  I enjoy watching and learning how everyone interprets my art differently from their own perspective.

What, or who, is your greatest creative influence?

I am fortunate to be surrounded by artists/creators in my family. When I decided to enrol in art school, my mother had no objections. She has always been my best supporter, encouraging me at every stage. This is rare for Asian parents, (I wasn’t quite that open to my daughter pursuing a career in animation!) My mother who always had a full-time job still pursued her passion for art, whilst she worked, taking classes in silk painting, a medium she loves. Now retired and at 80, she is a full-time artist, is constantly attending and participating in shows around Ontario. My sister is an amazing and award-winning author. When surrounded by so much creativity, it simply has to be the best influence ever.

What is your favourite time of day to create?

I wish there was a favourite time, but I basically take every day as a workday. Art is a passion, but it is also my job and I treat it as one. I get into my studio (which is my garage repurposed to serve as my art studio) The Art Brewery and I put on a podcast, light some candles, or incense sticks and get to work. It is such a cozy space with an armchair, books, music, wine and tea…so every hour whether I am ‘actually’ creating I am definitely in creator mode.

Which of your creations is your personal favourite, and why?

I would say my book, Mysteries in Colour ™ is my favourite creation so far. And this is only Volume 1. This is I dare say, the first ‘Colour outside the lines’ art workbook. It’s filled with my signature inkblots, allowing ‘YOU’ to create art by embellishing and accentuating what ‘YOU’ see through your own perspective. This book has become a tool for a series of corporate and social team building workshops that foster creativity, collaboration, and inclusiveness in the workplace. It allows people to ‘see’ the perspective of others.

How do you deal with creative slumps?

Going for a walk with a favourite playlist and my camera handy. I never let the weather stop me from a walk when I am in a slump. I usually love keeping a playlist of old songs handy, listening to them on vinyl as a child, will trigger some memories and that in turn will trigger a little creative spark or that ‘ah hah’ moment. In fact, the book Mysteries in Colour ™ was a product of the daydreams on my many walks. The concept of this book is based on ‘Pareidolia’ a neuroscience phenomenon (and a remnant of our survival mechanism from when our ancestors were still cave dwellers) which is our tendency to see familiar shapes in random things or objects. Remember seeing a dragon in the clouds or a face in a burnt toast? I would notice these things and realised that is exactly how I work on my art. And when I realised people were connecting with my pieces through their own unique perspective, the idea of giving them their own inkblots to work on came to fruition with this book.

Who are you beyond your art? Give us some insider facts about you.

My identity is defined by my art. However, I do have some quirks.

  • Carb loving foodie: I can be bribed with a sandwich anytime day or night. In fact, my dad would pack me 20 sandwiches for school every day!  I would polish off the 20 sandwiches within 30 minutes without sharing with anyone.
  • OCD about aesthetics: It is impossible for me to see something out of place and not do anything about it. I can get urges to rearrange the furniture in my living room in the middle of the night. I have even done this at some of the Airbnb’s we’ve stayed at to the horror of my family.
  • Nostalgic. I love old Bollywood films. The older they are the better, they take me back to simpler times growing up in Bombay. I can on most occasions recall, where and when I first saw the movie, and it feels wonderful to go back in time
  • Avid reader: Books are a savior. For the past few months I have gravitated towards non-fiction and business books. To grow the book, Mysteries in Colour ™ as a business is my next goal.
  • I believe I could be a terrific detective: Def will pursue that in a different life. I love catching on to things people missed or completing a story when watching a movie, with my own twist and wondering, if the antagonist could ‘get away with murder’ 

What’s one of the best – or most memorable – questions you’ve ever been asked, and how did you answer it?

“Why do you price your work so high, you can do this in your sleep.” When a fellow artist posed this question, I had to wonder if it was the classic ‘starving artist syndrome’ mindset? I had to explain that for me to do this ‘in my sleep’ I had to spend years and hours honing that skill and agonising over whether the world will understand and like the work I am putting out. Fact is, it takes years to become an overnight success.  I continue to learn and invest in improving my skill.  Art is not easy; it takes courage to put it out in the world and take in all the criticism along with the praise. It is so easy to be let down when a gallery suggests ‘your work isn’t for our clients’ or on opening night you don’t sell a single piece. 

Unless you identify your worth and what your own work is worth, you will almost always under value it.

What’s something you’re excited about right now?

Relaunching Mysteries in Colour’s ™ brand new site (it is still work in progress, but you saw it here first – and working on the brand packages for corporates as well as a set of printable material to support the creative practice for the participants of the workshops. I am also working to expand the Mysteries in Colour™ workshop series as a franchise.

And of course, a brand-new collection of paintings!

Mazarine, thank you for taking the time to answer my questions so thoughtfully! (Those first two insider facts! 😂) And I’m looking forward to when you visit my leadership team for some Mysteries in Colour workshopping!

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