October 26, 2017 / Luxury Lifestyle

Natural Connections: Artist Mariella Bisson

The watercolorist draws and paints on site, capturing the personality of the surrounding environment in her graphic, sculptural works


As a fledgling artist, Mariella Bisson didn’t have to look far for inspiration. “I come from one of the most beautiful places in the world, northern Vermont. It is wild there. It’s deep woodland, pines, dark-blue lakes.” Her father was a painter, and the family lived in a house once owned by celebrated poet Robert Frost. “I kind of didn’t have any choice about becoming an artist.”

Mariella Bisson, photographed at the base of Plattekill Falls as she works on a watercolor painting (<i>seen below</i>). Photograph: Laura Moss. Banner image: The field painting <i>Waterfall, Ochre Rocks</i> (2014) captures the falls in Willoughby State Forest in Vermont—Mariella Bisson’s home state. While studying for a degree in drawing at New York’s Pratt Institute and yearning for the space and greenery of her youth, Bisson made her first trip to the Catskill Mountains north of the city. A waterfall she came across one day was to prove a turning point in her career.

This watercolor of Plattekill Falls in the Catskill Mountains of New York was created by Mariella Bisson exclusively for Christie’s International Real Estate.“It occurred to me I could depict it in collage. As soon as I started to work in this way, I knew I was on to something.” It was the beginning of the graphic, sculptural landscapes that have come to characterize her work.

Watercolor is the most difficult of all painting media. There’s no reverse gear. There’s no removing.

Today, the artist is collected as much for her watercolor “field paintings” as for the collages they inform. Painted from life in outdoor locations throughout New York state and New England, the watercolors give “information but also mood, an emotional message. A place has a personality.”

<i>Light and Dark, Light and Heavy</i> (2011) is among the works Mariella Bisson has painted on site—this time in the Sundown Wild Forest in Denning, New York.Although she discovered watercolor late, Bisson was attracted by its similarities to drawing: “Every small, sensitive change of direction, every small emphasis in the fingers is immediately transferred onto the page. Yet the palette is endless.”

Sundown Wild Forest in the Catskills also provided inspiration for <i>The Blue Hole</i> (2008), painted on site.She also enjoys the challenges it presents: “Watercolor is the most difficult of all painting media. There’s no reverse gear. There’s no removing. If you look at my paintings, every single one contains a bright white that is the untouched page. For me, that’s the heart of watercolor. The thing you don’t touch is just as exciting as all that you do.”

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Nione Meakin
is a UK-based writer whose work has appeared in The Guardian, VICE, Marie Claire, and Grazia