Local Talk Series: Q+A with Maryanna Coleman

Your work ranges from real life to fantasy which is unique to other artists we have had at the shop. What inspiration drives your subject matter?

I love children’s books and their whimsical illustrations, as well as “realistic” paintings – of architecture, animals, nature, and more.  I try to weave a little of both styles into my paintings. 

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What artists were influential when you were honing your craft?

Ludwig Bemelmans (illustrator of the Madeline books), Caitlin McGauley, and Beatrix Potter’s whimsical styles and animals are some of my favorites!  Other influences (whether or not they show in my work) are Michael Sowa, Kathryn Freeman, Matisse, Maira Kalman, Janet Hill, Erin Armstrong, Wayne Thiebaud, Edward Gorey, Tracey Sylvester Harris, William Joyce, Erika Lee Sears, Dorothy Shain, Ashley Longshore, Cj Hendry, Donald Robertson, Pauline de Roussy de Sales, Charlie Mackesy, and many more.

 

How did you actually start your life as an artist? When did you know you had something special to share?

I’ve been making art since I was a kid, and continued to take art classes through high school.  I majored in Studio Art at Gettysburg College, and sketched/painted on the side for fun after graduation while working in “corporate” jobs.  I started an Instagram account of my art and sold a few pieces here and there – it gradually took off after that!  It’s fun to think back to locally hand-delivering some pieces, then eventually shipping internationally.  What initially started out as dog/pet portraits has evolved into wedding art (wedding scenes as gifts, invitations, etc), scenery and house/architectural portraits, and book illustrations (most recently Louise Penny’s past three books!).

 

Watercolors are such a specific art and clearly you are masterful with your approach. How did you address this particular discipline when developing your technique?

I taught myself!  I actually hadn’t “played” with watercolors since I was in grade school (or maybe early high school?).  I always worked in acrylics/oil/charcoal/drawing, but when I was in my small NYC apartment, there was next to no space for oil painting.  I started playing with watercolor when I realized it was the quickest/easiest set up/clean up, and could spend hours on something as small as 5x7” as opposed to a 5 ft canvas.  I definitely owe larger/general painting skills to my art professor from an oil painting class in Florence.

 

I see lots of animals in your show. Do you work on commissioned pieces as well?

I do!  I started with many dogs because I really wanted (and still want) one and am just drawn to them.  That developed into many commissions of pets – whether for a birthday, anniversary, wedding gift.  They always make for fun and meaningful presents.

 

My favorite is the dog in a military jacket. There's something about his posture and facial expression that is intriguing. Tell us about this piece.

My friends actually had me paint their dog in a British militia style coat for no other reason than they love history and think the dog looks British – and I love it!  He feels simultaneously refined and unsure of himself to me.

 

What does living in Montclair contribute to how you see the world through your work?

Living outside New York City gives me more space and quiet.  I am able to have both the greenery of suburbia as well as access to the buzz of NYC and Montclair.

 

What is your favorite coffee or tea beverage?

Iced coffee (or very specifically cold brew at Local!) with either almond milk or regular milk.

Thank you!

Learn more about Maryanna here:

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Local Talk: Interview with local entrepreneur and founder of Site, Stay, Go - Michelle Glasser

 

Everyone dreams of taking their passion and making it happen (yes, thats a line from Flashdance). What was the key moment for you in kicking off the process?

Not to date myself, but I love the Flashdance quote. What a feeling!

I let this idea fester for a long time. My dog has since passed, but when she was with us, I was always forgetting what I needed for her on walks, trips and hikes.

What gave me the courage to kick off the process was motherhood to human babies. I can’t really explain it, but I got braver; more willing to invest in myself and my ideas. About two years ago, I applied for my first patent, spoke to a product engineer and the ball got rolling.

 

What is your favorite feature of the Sit, Stay, Go? 

My favorite feature is the water/bowl combo at the pawparent’s fingertips. The fact that no packing and clipping are required is a huge plus; no remembering either, since it’s a complete unit and attached to the leash. Finally, this product doesn’t dangle like other water bottle pet products, because all the features are neatly built in, making it great for walks, hikes, travelers, therapy pets and road trippers.

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What are some words of wisdom for anyone considering taking on a life passion project?

Might sound cliche, but don’t give up. As you probably know, it’s really easy to get discouraged, and I’ve had my moments during this entrepreneurial journey. At those times, I had to dig deep, and take everything in bite sized chunks, task by task, without thinking too far ahead.

 

We're huge fans of dogs as our Instagram clearly demonstrates. What is it about these special beasts for you that narrowed your focus in this space?

I love dogs too. I’m highly allergic, but I love ‘em. Despite my bubble girl status, I got a Yorkie after 9-11 and loved her with all my heart. Ten years later, after having my first colicky kid, I craved simplicity. All the baby products and dog products seemed so complicated to me. Then I started to look at ways in which items could be improved, simplified or just plain hacked. With many ideas in the queue, the PET DINETTE is the first patent pending product to hit the market.

The pet space, in particular, was attractive because it seemed like there is a tad less innovation vs the baby — home markets, plus much inspiration could be drawn from baby (and for baby from pets). Moreover, the pet market is HUGE, with over half of the households in the United States owning a pet (almost 80 million homes!). Finally, dogs are my thing. Despite all the physical obstacles I was born with, I just love dogs and fiercely believe in supporting the rescue of pets. Since SitStayGo gives a portion of each sale to Mount Pleasant Animal Shelter in East Hanover, I could do my little part to help animals.

Do you have a special pet in your family? Breed? Photo?

Here’s my furbaby Yorkie, Margot, the thirsty, high maintenance muse behind the PET DINETTE. After one square block, her tongue would be to the pavement, requiring me to buy water and serve her from a makeshift bowl made with my hand. She passed a few years ago, and now I’m taking allergy shots in preparation for the next furbaby.

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The SitStayGo is fantastic for long hikes with a pooch. Are there any hiking routes around Essex County that you recommend?

I’m partial to the trails at the Eagle Rock Reservation. It’s a quiet oasis right here in Montclair’s backyard.

 

Tell us one thing about dogs that no one or just very few people know.

When training your pooch, first identify whether the breed and your dog specifically is prey or food driven - once you have that critical piece of information, you can leverage it as a training reward.

 

What is your favorite coffee or tea beverage?

Ice green tea. So refreshing!

 

https://sitstaygoco.com/

 

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