Mark B. Goodson Interview
May 8, 2022
An Artist with a Great Appreciation for Life
Mark B. Goodson is an oil-painter based in Huntsville, Utah who specializes in portraits, landscape, and still-life paintings. After going back to school in his mid-40’s for a degree in fine art, he found his passion for bringing pictures to life. With incredible precision and countless hours, he creates a myriad of emotions in each of his pieces. Goodson draws the viewer’s attention with delicate highlights and realistic textures. His incredible work can be found at the Mark B. Goodson Gallery or on his website, http://markbgoodson.com/.
Tell us about yourself, what was your early life like?
Being raised in a small town with six sets of aunts and uncles, 37 first cousins, and six siblings, it was hard to get away with anything mischievous. Grandma’s house was a hub for fun and feeling loved. It was on her walls I first saw, touched, and really looked at original oil paintings. Little did I know then what a role oil painting would play in my life.
After High School and serving as a missionary for 25 months in beautiful New Zealand I started college, fell in love, got married, worked odd jobs, and started a family. One job, working at a sign company, turned into a career choice. Eventually, I started my own sign and graphic design business, left school, and ran the business for seventeen years.
How did you get into oil painting?
I had a 45-year-old mid-life crisis. I said to myself, “l don’t have to be a sign guy my whole life.” Luckily I followed my oh-so-smart wife’s advice and went back to school. The BFA program at Weber State University required me to take three oil painting classes. Having heard how difficult oil painting can be, and having convinced myself I would not be able to oil paint, I put these classes off until my last three semesters. I actually took the math classes before the painting classes and devised a plan to talk the painting professor into allowing me to do something else during the semester. This did not happen.
Like most people trying something new, I was afraid of doing poorly and being embarrassed in front of others. However, I was soon painting very basic stuff along with my much younger classmates. As it turned out, I did not mix muddy colors, and I liked painting… a lot! After the second class, I was receiving commissions to do portraits of professors and by the end of the third class, I’d done six 48”x 60” paintings of blue-collar workers as a cohesive body of work for my thesis exhibition.
After graduation, these paintings became a significant portion of my portfolio as I applied to graduate schools. I was accepted to three great schools: The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) in Philadelphia, BYU in Provo, and The New York Academy of Fine Art in Manhattan. I accepted PAFA’s invitation to come. I couldn’t resist all that American history in Philly.
As incredible as all this may seem, the most amazing thing to me is how wonderfully supportive my dear wife Jeanette was as we sold most of what we owned, including our home, left our adult sons in Utah, and moved 2,400 miles across the country with our seven-year-old daughter, in search of a place to live as we chased this dream to earn a Master of Fine Art degree.
What was your time at PAFA like?
PAFA was fabulous, more than I ever would have imagined it could be. It knocked me on my backside, disrupted all my comfort zones, and opened my eyes and mind to both see and struggle to comprehend concepts of art and painting previously unknown to me. I gained a particular appreciation for solid, competent critiques of my work... thank you PAFA. The whole experience of living on the East coast sank deep into our lives and forever affected the way we think and our views of the world around us.
Upon graduation, we moved to the quiet little town of Huntsville, Utah where I established the Mark B. Goodson Studio/Gallery. I now have paintings in private, commercial, and government collections in the US, Canada, and abroad. I paint full time and teach a painting class each Thursday morning.
Do you ever get creative blocks?
Not really. This wonderful world is so full of amazing people, beautiful things, and inspiring places that I have lists of painting ideas. However, there are times when I wonder how I could possibly paint what is to be painted on the canvas before me. The answer is always the same, I pray for God to allow me to participate in the creation of this painting, and then I simply get started. Granted, painting can be really hard mentally and emotionally, after all, it is artwork.
Sometimes there are more prayers as I scrape or paint over areas and try again. Other times I lose myself in the work. Later, I marvel at the creative process and that I got to be part of it.
What’s your painting process?
Sometimes I work directly from life and I enjoy doing so, but more often I take and reference photographs. After laying out the image onto the canvas, I typically paint the deeper space first (the background) and work forward. I always work from a palette with a good complement of colors, today artists have many options and I feel we should appreciate and enjoy the colors available to us in our time.
Mixing specific colors for a new large painting can sometimes take days, and I get anxious to paint. If there are people in the painting, I may start with their eyes in order to get right to the soul of the painting. I save hair for last and do it in one painting session, working wet paint into wet paint as I shift from the darkest values, through the middle tones, and then apply highlights. This buttery blend of various colors and values from deliberate strokes of the brush is truly satisfying and produces a natural realism I enjoy immensely.
What do you think art’s role in the community or culture is?
I feel that you should have the art you love, for two reasons:
1. Because of how the art makes you feel, both emotionally and mentally. This is very unique to each person.
2. Because once you have taken art (more particularly original art) into your life, your world, your space... you involve yourself in the creative life of that work of art. You could say that it becomes one of the colors on your palette and you paint with it onto your life's canvas, combining it with the other elements in your space. The art collector may feel they literally step into the role of a creator, even possibly an artist, a very unique and personal union of their life and art. Collectively as a community this can be powerful and affect the culture of our society. Yes, you should have the art you love.
What sort of impact do you hope your work has?
I have come to the conclusion that my work is not simply realism in style, but realistic to real life. People can relate to the subject matter and how it’s presented. The light is warm with life, the shadows deep & rich with subtle detail, and the colors pleasant and desirable without being overstated.
As I consider what impact I want my work to have on individuals, the community, and our culture, it seems evident to me that the impact I hope for is that my work will evoke glad thoughts and feelings, inspire desires of goodness in work, play, and relationships, to promote hope and instill an appreciation for this wonderful world we live in. Encourage faith in a higher power and inspire a desire to live the golden rule. An appreciation for things well done and lives well lived, even in the midst of struggle. You know, it truly is okay to believe life is good and wonderful, if you look for it, it really is.
What are you currently working on?
The body of work I am striving to do at present is focused on glass: specifically jars, bottles, and marbles. Many of these paintings, like the incomplete image of One Gallon Jug included here, will be on large 60”x 40” canvases. There will be individual and groupings of beautiful blue Ball jars. There will also be Coke bottles, vintage Lea and Perrins Worcestershire Sauce bottles, and Mason jars. There will be large single marbles, with marvelous transparency, into which we will look, and marvel at the suspended bubbles and swirls of color deep inside them. They are all going to be so beautiful, I can hardly wait to finish one and get to another.
What are your hopes for the future?
I love what I’m doing, there is variety, challenge, beauty, and the joy of working with people and making friends. I look forward to a future of much more of the same.
Where can we find more of your work?
It has been my pleasure to visit with the many people who have come into my studio/gallery. This is a working studio where I freely share information about my work and painting process. I also encourage you and yours to develop your talents and pursue your dreams. It is my hope that you will come with your friends and families to share an experience, more than once.
This is not a museum, and I have had some real fun causing parents to gasp a bit when I encourage their children to touch the surface of a painting or two. I want them to feel what it’s like, to experience it. Then, of course, I encourage the grown-ups to touch them as well, and they do. All are welcome. So pile yourselves into the car and come on over. 7341 E 200 S Huntsville, UT.
My hours are generally 9:00 am to 6:00 pm M-S, but it is a good idea to call and confirm that I’m not out running an errand just at the time you want to come. Also, please be aware that I teach an adult painting class each Thursday from 9:00 am to Noon. If you are interested, give me a call, text or email and I will let you know all about it. Don’t be shy, we have a good time, learn a lot, and develop real skills. 801-564-4585 | email@example.com.
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