about the artist
Maret Hensick’s style is reflective of her travels and rich life experiences. Raised in Europe from age 9 on, Maret returned to the United States for college, graduating from the University of Pennsylvania (summa cum laude) with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree. After college, she worked in Germany for two years as a commercial artist before once again exploring America. She lived briefly in Montana, New York City and Michigan before settling in Minneapolis. There she discovered print making in the studios of Hamline University and began her ongoing career as a fine artist–a career which she continues to develop concurrently with her licensed design work. Her marriage to painter Tom Paiement brought her to Maine where they have lived, worked and raised their son Cole for the past 20 years.
“I think growing up abroad made both my sisters and me acutely visual. When you don’t speak the language, you end up paying close attention to the world around you so you can navigate your way through it. As kids, we had great license to roam around not just our neighborhood, but the villages and cities nearby. Since we didn’t speak or read the language, we had to use visual cues to know when to get on the trolley or off the bus or where to walk. We started to notice the grey building, the blue curtains, a row of red geraniums or other details that signaled where you had to go. Each country had its own thoroughly distinct character as well, which offered a visual feast of food, dress, architecture and landscape. Along with this, our parents were determined to have us see every museum, cathedral, castle and ruin–sensory overload from age 9 up.
Coupled with this visual education, a strange loneliness emerged– a result of moving constantly I think. I felt a great need to express myself; to narrow down what I saw into simple forms, though often within complex or detailed venues. I also wrote and mixed the two, which is still a hallmark of my work–my paintings are narratives of the private discourse I have with myself. Almost all of my paintings have titles or written lines that explain the thought process or inspiration.
When I moved to Maine, I started working in the surface design industry by chance, and have spent the last 20 years creating designs for all kinds of products from stationary to Christmas ornaments, posters to pillows. It has been fun and challenging. Most importantly, I have gotten to paint everyday. I feel incredibly lucky that my husband and I have been able to raise our son with art all around him while watching both his parents work hard at something they love.
At this point in my life I am stepping away a little from the commercial side of my work to concentrate on paintings once more: exploring my art in a new way, still with a running internal narrative, looking for clues, learning again the language of the world around me.”
We live in Maine, 5 miles outside of a small town, on a rise above a narrow valley. The studio is adjacent to the house. It is always quiet. At night it is so dark you can usually see the Milky Way and bright, sharp stars and planets. I keep annual gardens that flower through the summer so I have plenty to draw. There are fields of wild flowers and weeds in front of the house and woods in the back. During the long, dark winters we go south for a few weeks, usually to the islands. (Lots of Maine artists do this). I paint landscapes there and portraits of the people we meet.
Maine is sparsely populated. I remember first arriving here and wondering where everybody was. Maybe that is why the typical Maine painting is lonely looking-–a boat in tidal waters, trees and the ocean, a salt marsh and some abandoned cabin. I keep trying to find the right voice for the state and started a “Mainer” series with people in them. I will continue this during the rest of this year and next.
For the last three years we have heard relentless and heart-wrenching stories about unemployment and foreclosures. Maine has been hard hit with very few large employers and an uninviting atmosphere for luring business. But it also has a large entrepreneurial base: an agile and self motivated creative community. I define "creative" in the very broadest and best sense.
To offset the distressing news and to honor people still working and creating, I started a series of digital drawings of people in their work spaces on the iPad. This allows me to sit and draw people as they are working in their own environments. My intent is to do one hundred drawings in a year. They take one to two hours to do and are more impressions than portraits. What started as a simple idea of recording Mainers at work in reaction to the news has become a labor of love, an exciting peek into people's lives and daily business. I am not sure where this will lead but I will continue to post them on my website and hope you will enjoy the flip side of this recession as much as I enjoy drawing it.