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Marla Hope Kenney



I started my first art experience with lessons at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. when I was 5. The teacher said I was naturally gifted and my parents needed to channel my energy. I was a bit hyperactive. So I have been making art all my life. My focus is on creating layered paintings with acrylic ink and paint. I use a glazing type of technique to create depth with the layers. pushing and pulling the positive and negative spaces.

I have a B.F.A and M.Ed in Art Education and have been teaching 20 years in the public sector.

My art tends to lend itself to organic subject matter. I liken it to enjoying the Hidden Pictures page in the Highlights Magazine. I never know, when I lay down the underpainting in inks, what it will be. I can plan with colors and have an idea of its general direction but the finished product evolves as I paint.


Beginning a painting, for me, is like looking at the ‘hidden pictures’ page of the Highlights Magazine. I never know what it is ahead of time, but I love searching for all the little surprises!

I have always loved drawing more that painting but realized quickly that in the art world, drawing is not as highly respected by the public as a painting. For some reason people seem to think it is easier to draw than paint.That is a terrible misconception.

I begin my paintings with acrylic inks and then use decalcamania application with plastic wrap on a heavy but smooth rag paper canvas or board. I love rich color, big and bold, so I inject the colors under the wrap to make them bolder. Many of my paintings turn out to be landscapes or organic in nature. The jungles are best when they appear because they remind me of Panama and connect me with my family and heritage. Animals like birds and fish have been appearing most often lately on the canvases. The mixing of smooth/dull and textural/shiny effects excite me. And I will layer many glazes to build positive and negative space. I actually love landscapes but hate painting them unless in this style. After the painting is done I gently approach the shapes and voids that I see with pens, markers, colored pencils and graphite or a brush and acrylics and begin to play back and forth with the depth and surface areas. I keep building until the scene or image appears. Almost always the scene is organic or figurative -- not a real place, but a place in my mind that could possibly exist.

I still enjoy just putting paint to canvas when an idea strikes me and because I teach, I am constantly inspired by new and different media. Teaching has been the best inspiration and the best way to make a lazy artist keep on working! I make art almost every day in some form or fashion and I enjoy all of it. I am very lucky to be doing something I love.

When people see my paintings, I hope they feel the interest and excitement I feel trying to see everything that is there. I hope they come away with an urge to go back and look again! I exhibit in local galleries and shows but I have my work in homes all over the world and I find that very gratifying.


Marla Hope Kenney

Hoover, Alabama


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