The corner of a rather nondescript warehouse in West Midtown positively vibrates with color. A long workspace and desk along one wall house works of art in various stages of completion. Bottles and tubes of paint are ready. Music streaming from a small Bluetooth speaker fills the air with songs from a wide range of artists including Childish Gambino, Outkast, Lucius, Sammy Rae and the Friends and Jungle and Queen. The sofa just inside the open garage door did not escape the reach of the artist’s brush. Swirls of color on its surface integrate it into space.
This is the studio of the painter Samantha Louise Marett. With infectious joy, she enthusiastically greeted me at the front door and showed me around, telling me about the twelve other artists who have studios there. Her outfit and glasses — like her workspace — were colorful and vibrant. I learned later that she painted her jumpsuit herself.
Marett is an Atlanta native who recently moved after living and working for six years on the sunny shores of San Diego, California. His work was not always as bright and cheerful as it seems today. This is due at least in part to the healing role of works of art in his life, especially in recent years.
Something deep blue, a series featuring flowing, amorphous forms in soothing blue washes, is one of his most popular series of commissioned paintings. Marett developed the works while mourning the loss of one of his dearest friends, Gregory Pearson. “Grief kind of dug a hole in my heart in a way that I didn’t really understand it could,” she told me. Working on these pieces helped her through the pain.
“Anything that speaks to me right now comes out,” Marett explained. In 2018, when she suffered from depression which she now lovingly calls “The Big Wakeup” and was subsequently diagnosed with bipolar disorder, she began using her artwork and platform as a artist to demystify the disorder and work on his own feelings.
For Marett, bringing color to emotion is of utmost importance. “Translating my emotions into colors and shapes, lines and textures, and moving anything that looks like stuck energy with my art is extremely cathartic.” Many of the stories she tells in her work are vulnerable and deeply personal, like We lost our home which was created in response to losing her childhood home as a teenager.
“I don’t think healing happens in a vacuum. You can’t do much healing on your own, and community healing is such a beautiful process. I’ve done a lot of intense therapy and really invested myself in working on myself and my artistic process over the years. It’s been rocky and tough; Living and working as an artist isn’t always easy, and living with mental illness can be difficult.
The use of heavy-bodied acrylics, acrylic ink, high-flow acrylics, matte medium, modeling clay, watercolors, gel pumice, and even San Diego sand mixed with modeling clay are what give depth and body to Marett’s work. “It’s an experiment, I never know how it’s going to dry out. Seeing how it all landed is always very exciting. The process moves from loose and free to more meticulous and thoughtful as these multi-layered pieces come together. Finishing touches, such as his “happy points,” add the perfect amount of whimsy and playfulness to compositions.
Today, Marett’s art is mostly bright and colorful with shades that include lots of pinks, yellows, and neons. “I’ve been in a really good and happy place since coming back from San Diego. I have a lot of coping mechanisms in my toolbox, and I have art as a healing and creative outlet. It’s something I’m so thankful for.
The majority of Marett’s artwork is available for sale on Instagram, while on her website you can find clothing, bags, masks and more that have been printed with her fun and vibrant designs.