Maria Esmar


Maria Esmar

“My abstract works are a reflection of my own inner world, an exploration of the human psyche, and a celebration of the beauty found in chaos and complexity. They are an invitation to step outside the boundaries of logic and immerse oneself in the realm of pure sensation and emotion.”

Maria Esmar

Tell me about your background growing up and finding your way in the arts. What inspired you to pursue art full-time?

I grew up in Romania and was born a bit of an artist. I suppose most people will say that they were ‘artsy’ as a kid–Maria said with a smile– because everyone draws and paints. But for me, I started fine arts school at 14 years old, studying interior design, architecture, and product design in university, and things just went on from there.

I started getting into fashion and was making handmade bags, and jewelry for about six years in Romania. Because there was not quite a market for the sort of things I was making there, I decided to move to England and pursue an art career.

I took a break for two years because I felt like I just needed to do something to get out of my head and decide exactly what I wanted to do. I didn't want to do fashion anymore–it wasn't quite my calling. I started painting when I got to England just as a hobby, and it was very relaxing for me. It just kind of evolved from there. I began doing one painting a month, and after about one year, people started talking about the paintings, and I realized, “This actually could be a thing to consider more seriously!

But it is expensive. If artists want to do this full-time, they need to be financially prepared. There's a lot going on that people don't don't even think about like behind-the-scenes marketing and building your brand. It's a full-time business as much as it is fun and relaxing.

Maria Esmar. Photo by Chris Green of Mercer Green Photography
Maria Esmar painting courtesy of the artist; Photo by Chris Green of Mercer Green Photography

How do you work? How might you describe your artistic flow? Do you listen to music while you paint?

I don't really listen to music in the studio. I have art podcasts that I listen to. I feel like my mind has to be somewhere else while I paint, weirdly. If I focus on the painting in front of me too much, I don't feel like I'm getting it a hundred percent right somehow.

I also paint two or three paintings at the same time–it's a bit silly, but I feel like most people have a style for painting, and I don’t… I’m just painting out of pleasure. And it’s strange–It's like I'm multitasking, but I'm not a multitasker in general. If I'm in the studio, I don't want anyone there, but I will just put something on in the background to listen to. It is a continuous cycle; I work for one hour on one painting and then swap to another one and then I move back to the first painting and then to another one. It just has to be like that for me. I just have to keep my brain distanced from it all and yet I’m still connected.

Maria Esmar pictured with her work courtesy of the artist
Maria Esmar pictured with her work courtesy of the artist; Photo by Chris Green of Mercer Green Photography

What does your average day look like as a full-time visual artist?

I do about three to four hours of online work before heading into the studio to do another three to four hours of painting. I then come home and have dinner and whatever else and then in the evenings, I'm back on social media, trying to read articles or post. It is a very full schedule and it is quite challenging, but I absolutely love it. I wouldn't change it for anything. I feel like there's no going back now. 

Maria Esmar courtesy of the artist
Maria Esmar courtesy of the artist; Photo by Chris Green of Mercer Green Photography

How has your practice changed over time?

I don't want to say it has changed, but I think I'm perfecting my skills because I'm going through a lot of books and learning so much more about artists than when I first began. Because my specialty at University wasn't painting, it wasn't the thing that I mainly focused on, and I think the fact that I'm analyzing so many types of artworks now kind of gets me into it in new ways. I'm looking back a year or two or three, and I'm like, “Oh my god, I’ve come a long way!” And I'm simultaneously wondering where I’ll be in 10 years.

In your eyes, what role do artists have in society?

Art in any way gets you outside the routine and makes you connect with yourself on a deeper level–I think it is the role of the artist to initiate this. Artists express their emotions and make people see things differently. I might even say that it's got a sort of healing property for people. Or perhaps a work of art can spark a new idea. Art triggers emotion and stops the world in one place.

I had a client who commissioned a painting several years ago. The client wanted the work to exude sunshine and positivity. As for my role as the artist, though, she didn't tell me anything other than those two things. And this was my second commission, so it was my job to create something from this.

This commission was a challenge, and luckily, the client loved it. I was so grateful, but you never know what will come of things like this. It was happy when she loved it, and it was such a relief.

So, sometimes the role of the artist is to create something for someone else and hope it has a happy ending.

Maria Esmar pictured with her large scale works courtesy of the artist
Maria Esmar pictured with her large scale works courtesy of the artist; Photo by Chris Green of Mercer Green Photography

What does abstract art mean to you?

I think for me, it's looking at a painting and not seeing something that you see on a day-to-day basis. It's looking at a canvas and letting your mind loose because there are no objects and no objectives. I love that it can be fun in a moment, and then it can be sad, or it can be just be still and calm. I love abstract art, and I like different styles of painting like impressionism and all, really, but F for me, abstract art creates a different feeling each time. And then you get to meet with people and have a conversation about it. The way people see art is so different. You can have 10 people at a table, and they'll all say 10 different things to say and 10 different visual perceptions of it, and I suppose that's why I love it so much.

It can really be an emotional journey, but maybe not in the way you might expect. For me, if I'm a bit sadder, I paint the most vibrant paintings, whereas when I'm in my zone, I paint the dark or ominous paintings. It’s like upside-down somehow–not what you might expect.

Maria Esmar painting courtesy of the artist
Maria Esmar painting courtesy of the artist; Photo by Chris Green of Mercer Green Photography

Who are some artists you admire?

Of course, Lee Krasner is my all-time favorite artist. I love Joanne Mitchell as well. I pull inspiration from de Kooning. Probably one of my favorite living artists is Bobby Burgers and Mariana Oushiro.

Where do you see your art going next?

I will just continue to go further and further. I am trying to get everything to go further in terms of gallery exhibitions, art fairs, meeting designers, and meeting with people in my industry because I have been a little bit more focused on selling in the past. So now I am looking to participate in more art fairs and events.

Maria Esmar courtesy of the artist
Maria Esmar courtesy of the artist; Photo by Chris Green of Mercer Green Photography

The delightful exchange with Maria Esmar underscores the incredible journey so many creatives go through, with twists and turns–successes and the ever-changing relationship between the artist and their craft. With each story being uniquely its own. Esmar reminds us to think critically about art and our own work but never forget the importance of wonder and play. Follow along Esmar’s story here, with much more to come.

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