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Meet Maria Liitola, our May Diamond Artist

Artists Features

To celebrate our 60th anniversary, Liquitex is selecting a ‘Diamond Artist’ every month throughout 2015! As well as receiving a Liquitex care package tailored specifically to their artistic style, we’re showcasing their work on our website and Facebook page.


Meet our Liquitex Diamond Artist for May, Finnish painter Maria Liitola! Traditionally a fan of Liquitex Professional Spray Paint and Paint Marker, she decided to break out of her comfort zone with her prize package, opting for a selection of Liquitex Professional Ink and Soft Body. Learn more about the factors that swayed her choice here.


In this feature, Maria shares four creative tips with Liquitex fans who want to keep growing and pushing themselves as portrait artists.




Don’t give yourself an easy ride  


Liitola’s work focuses on inner reflection and, oftentimes, turmoil. In order to get into the headspace necessary to best portray this, she has an emotive process. “I don’t just pick up my brush and start to paint,” Liitola says. “I need to build up to the painting’s emotion and stay there until the piece is complete. I aim to get to the same level of emotion as the subject, so I can be physically exhausted if my model is showing rage, or mellow and peaceful if they’re pensive.


Maria’s advice: Silence isn’t golden. Make different musical playlists for producing different paintings, and figure out what [other stimulation] will get you on your subject’s wavelength.




Paint who you know, but not what you know


Painting what you know can give you a false sense of security. In Liitola’s view, painting uneasy subjects gives the strongest results. It demands focus and exploration, and allows you to stumble across new techniques that will be unique to that specific artwork. Interestingly, she looks for this in people she already has a relationship with. “I paint about anguish a lot, but this is completely different for everyone. I’ve become a lot closer to a friend with mental health issues and a fragile psyche, and painting that person has been scary and moving. Looking at this person as a friend is totally different to looking at them as my artist’s subject.”


Maria’s advice: Maintain a dialogue with your sitter that goes beyond the individual painting. Friends can become subjects, and subjects can become friends. That’s where I find my best work.



Explore self-expression – now’s a great time to do it


The digital world around us is a great resource, and one that Liitola embraces. “Our visual culture is really interesting to me. I get inspired by a lot of selfie imagery – the way people create an illusion and seek acceptance through a homogenically-approved way of presenting themselves. Young people have been conditioned in this way. In their selfies, they borrow visual ideas from artists, adverts and movies. In turn, I borrow them for inspiration. They’re real people trying to make themselves unreal. It’s voyeuristic, both of themselves and myself, and it inspires me.”



Maria’s advice: Self-expression is at our fingertips in droves. Monitor certain selfie hashtags on Instagram, like #selfie, #me, #instamood, and #beautiful.



Know when to ignore advice


“When I was younger, I was committed to oils,” says Liitola. “Oil has a weighty reputation, but what's best for you and your art does not come from what works for others; it comes from experimentation, to see what suits you best. For me, speed and versatility comes best from acrylic paint. Take spray paint, for instance. Liquitex Professional Spray Paint isn’t the most traditional tool in my cupboard, but it’s one of the best. I use thin layers for light tones and use thicker applications when I want to brush it onto my canvas.”


But before incorporating Liquitex Professional Spray Paint into her daily practice, Liitola permanently swapped her oils for acrylic paints. “When I made the transition, someone told me I should never use black from the tube, that I should always mix my own. I did this for a long time, until I realised that a tube black, like Liquitex Professional Heavy Body in Mars Black, was perfect for what I so regularly communicate."


Maria’s advice: When someone gives you some advice, try it. But also try what they’re advising against. What works for one artist can be the worst option for another.

As part of her Liquitex Diamond Artist prize, Liitola received a care package of Liquitex Professional Soft Body acrylic paints and Liquitex Professional Ink. Read about the materials' qualities and how they can help you explore a similar expressive portraiture stylehere.

May 01, 2015 < Back To News

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