Welcome Mark, what are you doing?
I am exploring the many ways to create visually stunning imagery in the Op Art genre. I find great joy in exploring the interaction of color, how colors can impart the impression of motion and depth, and how colors can evoke unique memories in each of us.
What do you find interesting about hard edge art?
For me, I find that hard edge, geometric abstract art allows the colors to speak to the viewer – rather than any “story” I am telling or personal feelings I am expressing. Colors and patterns are universal, and do not necessarily need to be locked into specific cultures or predispositions. Each person can take away what they like. The balance and harmony of geometric abstraction I find to be calming.
What do you aim to achieve with your paintings?
I refer to myself as a Contemporary Op Artist who creates geometric abstract paintings. I have been influenced by the Op Artists of the 1960s and 1970s – especially Julian Stanczak, Carlos Cruz Diez, and Richard Anuszkiewicz. My primary motivation is to explore how colors engage with and influence each other when they are in close proximity, and how color choices and design create structures, motion, and depth in the viewers’ eyes.
When was your interest in art awakened and where do you currently stand as a painter?
I have been fascinated with the Op Art Movement ever since I bought a Vasarely poster at a psychedelic shop as a ten-year-old in the late 1960s. Although I earned a degree in art, I gave up fine art to pursue a career in advertising. I’m still working full-time as an online marketing consultant but have rekindled my passion for the creative process. Because I restarted my explorations in art at 62 years of age, my path is still very short. I have confidence in my skills as a colorist, but I am finding new ways to improve the quality of my work.
So, you are not working full-time in the art field
No, but at my age I hope I still have time on this earth to devote my days to my art. While I have sold a few pieces, I still must work full time as a marketing consultant to pay the bills. Because I have only been painting for a few years, I am focusing on building my body of work and improving my techniques.
What have you learned? Would you like to share it?
One can never be to old to embrace to childlike joy of creating. Think back to your youth when art first touched your soul. For me, I recall sitting in church on a Sunday morning and looking up at the stained glass windows, and the rich colors illuminated by the morning sun.
Do you have any experience with galleries?
I have had several pieces exhibited in juried exhibitions, including The Salmagundi Club in NYC, The Lancaster Museum of Art, and The Center for Contemporary Art in Bedminster NJ. But I have not yet had a solo gallery show.
What feedback do you get?
Collectors have referred to the optical effects that they see, and the depth, motion, and “glow” of the colors. On several occasions, they have mentioned that it appears there is a light bulb behind the painting making it shine from within. I take pleasure in hearing this, as it harkens back to my memories of viewing stained glass church windows in the morning sun.
Where do you work right now?
My studio is a cramped corner of my 100 year-old basement. I recently visited a studio of an accomplished abstract painter, and I envision myself in such a setting — large rooms, high ceilings, bright light. Someday!
Let’s talk about inspiration. What’s on your mind?
Colors in all forms. Nature, clothing, memories, cars in the sunlight, stained glass windows, my wife’s antiques, Christmas decorations. I am also inspired by op artist Julian Stanczak – not only as one of the great colorists of the late 20th century, but also his personal back story. When my 64-year-old body feels tired and sore, I think about what Julian experienced and how he persevered and created a huge body of work. If you don’t know his life story, please look it up. Inspiring.
What project would you like to do one day?
Creating larger pieces – 36″ or more – in a series of related explorations of color and line. While each piece could stand on its own, I would like to see 6 or more of these larger works exhibited side-by-side to show their interaction and relation to each other. Almost like members of a family.
Is there anything you would do different today as an artist?
No one ever said while lying on their death bed “I wish I worked more hours at my job.” I regret waiting until my 60s to rekindle my joy in art. At the same time, I am finding it scary to walk away from my clients and the reliable income of my career in marketing. But, there is no point in dwelling on the past, so I am enjoying the time I spend now on my art.
Do you sometimes need motivation to paint?
No motivation needed – other than forcing myself to turn my back on the mundane responsibilities of day-to-day non-creative pursuits. I have more ideas in my head than I could ever hope to bring to fruition.
Which of your paintings excites you the most?
The next one I create. Even some of my first pieces sparkle — even though my precision and technical abilities have improved. I particularly enjoy the glow of my Asterism Series. The term “Asterism” refers to the “X” that appears in the painting. This illusion only appears to the eye, and does not exist in the design. I borrowed the term “asterism” from gemologists, who use it to describe the “X” or “star” that appears in some gems, such as a Star Sapphire.
Do you work solo or do you collaborate with others from time to time?
Not yet. I have enjoyed some supportive comments and suggestions on execution and materials from a highly-regarded abstract artist in my hometown of Lancaster, PA. Other than that, I have been strictly a solo practitioner.
What wishes do you have for the future?
I hope to improve my techniques as an artisan or crafts person, so that the colors predominate and the imperfections fade away. I will always want a certain painterly quality to exist in my work, and would not want my pieces to be mistaken for digital output. My most pressing goal is to enjoy the gift of time before it is too late for me.
What else is on your mind?
My work ranges from light and sunny, to harsh and electric. In the end, it is all about color, color, color. I am fascinated with the interaction of color, how colors can create motion and depth. I enjoy the role that mathematics plays in my work, and the process of layer upon layer of colors that are applied using varying widths of masking tape to create the final result – which is something that I can’t see until the last piece of tape is removed.
Thanks a lot, Mark!
Mark Vogel ★ Artist resume
Millersville University, B.A., Art, 1979 40+ year career in advertising, marketing, public relations. 58th Annual Community Art Exhibition, Lancaster Museum of Art, Lancaster, PA, August 2020 59th Annual Community Art Exhibition, Lancaster Museum of Art, Lancaster, PA, August 2021 Allied Artists of America 108th Annual Exhibition, Salmagundi Club, New York, NY, September 2021 2022 International Juried Exhibition, Center for Contemporary Art, Bedminster, NJ, January 14 – February 26, 2022 Works in Private Collections: Hidden Hills, CA, Surprise, AZ, Barcelona, Spain.