Portrait of Mark Workman in his Studio, copyright Bill Simone 2008
Mark Workman was born in Lancaster, PA in 1960. He was raised in a home that encouraged and nurtured his artistic inclinations and he achieved early success in high school, receiving two National Scholastic Gold Key awards which motivated him to pursue further education in art. Mark attended the Rochester Institute of Technology and received a BFA from Tyler School of Art in 1982.
His luminous landscape paintings have been included in exhibitions at museums and galleries across the country including; Fischbach Gallery and Bernarducci Meisel Gallery in New York City, The Cleveland Museum of Art, The Butler Institute of Art, The Springfield (MO) Museum of Art and The State Museum of Pennsylvania. His work has been featured in many books and magazines and can be found in numerous museum and corporate collections including; General Electric Company, Bank of Tokyo, Exxon Corporation, The Pennsylvania Convention Center, The Philbrook Museum of Art, The Lancaster Museum of Art, and the Ella Carothers Dunnegan Gallery of Art. He has received grants from the PA Council on the Arts, The E D Foundation and the Pollock-Krasner Foundation.
He currently resides with his family in Lititz, PA where he maintains a studio/gallery in a renovated garage behind his home. When not painting in his studio, Mark spends his time doing carpentry/woodworking, playing guitar, brewing beer and fishing. He can also be found in his vegetable garden where he grows a majority of the family’s vegetables; he has been gardening organically for 35 years.
Mark Workman Artist's Statement
When I was a young boy growing up in a small town, butterfly net in tow, I would explore the fields and streams nearby collecting specimens like Darwin on the Beagle. Always more comfortable in nature than a crowd, I lost myself in the mystery and splendor of the flora and fauna of my world. I made occasional visits to a small creek that flowed under the street less than a block from my house. While peering down into the water one day I was mesmerized by fish darting back and forth in the dappled sunlight on a golden autumn afternoon. Running back to my house, I grabbed my fishing rod and headed back to the stream. I soon discovered that the fish were Brook trout and their dazzling jewel-like markings were enhanced by the late October light. It was a vision of allure and wonder that stays with me still. Over time the creek's flow diminished to a trickle and the fish disappeared but my desire to find overlooked magical places remains. Almost fifty years later that stream is now a dry creek bed, its’ water diverted by the many homes and businesses that have sprung up in the former farm fields that surrounded my town in the heart of some of the richest, most productive, non-irrigated agricultural soils in the world. That experience has informed my approach to making artwork to this day. I am moved to capture beauty and mystery but with an underlying melancholy for what has been lost along the way. The closing Lines of Cormac McCarthy’s book, The Road, summed it all up for me when I read it many years later. "Once there were brook trout in the streams in the mountains. You could see them standing in the amber current where the white edges of their fins wimpled softly in the flow. They smelled of moss in your hand. Polished and muscular and torsional. On their backs were vermiculate patterns that were maps of the world in its becoming. Maps and mazes. Of a thing which could not be put back. Not be made right again. In the deep glens where they lived all things were older than man and they hummed of mystery."
It has been said that an artist's job is to see beauty where others do not. Places that are often overlooked and appear mundane can be exalted by light and weather, revealing their beauty, character and importance. When these conditions converge I feel a heightened sense of awareness and a connection to my environment and I feel compelled to share this sensation with others. I am driven to compose the transitional world around me using a camera to record fleeting moments. I manipulate the captured scenes back in my studio, using editing tools on a computer to further enhance those qualities that initially attracted me. Working directly from my computer monitor the image is transposed to paper, museum board or canvas. Using acrylic paint I slowly build layer upon layer to create the luminous skies and landscapes for which I have become known. As a counter balance to the methodical and slower paced paintings I produce Monotypes which are by nature more spontaneous and immediate.
I rely on my intuition to guide me in my search for subject matter and often find a correlation between my mood and the scene before me. I strive to merge the self and nature in my landscape paintings and subtly make use of metaphor and symbolism to convey a message. I am interested in the relationship between humans and the natural world they live in or isolate themselves from. I record my observations and address my concerns in the paintings. It is my hope that the viewer will share in my vision and intimately connect with these landscapes to find a visual refuge for quiet contemplation and meditation.