Wednesday, February 16, 2011

SPOTLIGHT: On Loretta Benedetto Marvel


Birthplace: New York

Current Residence: New York via California and Memphis

Necessary Job:  attorney at law

How long have you been doing art?  
When I was about 4 and obsessed with the smell of crayons. My Aunt Anita  worked in a small dress factory and had oceans of fabrics, buttons, beads, and sequins. Doing it as an adult 25 years - began quilting when the first child was born and soon amassed a roomful of gorgeous fabrics and fell in love with Baltimore Albums. I soon realized that I wanted to make pictorial quilts about my own life instead of an 19th century lady's life, but this required learning how to draw. 

At what age did you begin creating and why?  
I don't know "why" I began creating when I was little, except that I loved cutting and pasting. I clearly remember covering this little wooden crate with fabric scraps and being quite proud of it - it was the seeds for Modge Podge fever!  I began writing stories when I was in 4th grade and kept at it until college when I was so intimidated by the amazingly creative and intellectual students at my very "hippie" college, that I completely shut down, stopped writing, stopped journaling, and went to law school. It took me twenty years to get back and if it wasn't for the "safe structure" of quilting, I would have never done it.  My introduction to mixed media came when I was in Michaels about 15 years ago to buy a new pair of Ghingers and saw this strange new magazine, "Somerset Studio". The rest is history.

What is your favorite part of teaching?  
My favorite part of teaching is the moment when the class is sharing their stories and they begin to reach out to each other and become a little family. Soon everyone is sharing paints, paper, a jeweled bit of this and that, and we are off and running in the heart of the creative process. 

What do you find most challenging about teaching?
I am a self-taught artist. I have no academic credentials. My classes are all about igniting the creative spark in my students and helping them have that "aha" moment when they realize that art can change their lives. I have stage fright before every class and wonder how my little art projects can ever match up with the amazing artwork I see other teachers offering.

What do you like to do in your spare time?  
I like to visit Cape Cod with my family and our labs. I like to drink a lot of cappuccinos, read, watercolor, journal, and I love spending Sunday running between my art studio and kitchen, cooking big pots of thing, listening to audio books, and painting.
What is your favorite type of art medium?  Hands down, I love to paint. I have a very passionate love affair with painting gouache on Kraft paper.

Who is your favorite artist?
Argh! How could I ever choose?  I have a special fondness for Kate Libby, an artist who was from Maine and whose paintings are all about her family and the coast. She passed away in her 40's but left so many paintings that they still publish her calendars every year. Her work can be seen at

What is one interesting (trivial) fact that everyone should know about you?  
I am the middle daughter of 5 girls, thus I thrive in the company of noisy, bossy women. (Editor’s Note: this explains our friendship!)

Attach your favorite image and detail why it is your favorite.  
I hope I understand this - my favorite image from my own art? Attached is a piece I did for my column in Cloth, Paper, Scissors in which I combine paper, paint, and fabric to represent my personal symbol, the pomegranate. The reason why it is my favorite is not just that it shows the pomegranate, but that when I was done with it, I realized that I had unconsciously made my Muse resemble my late Aunt Anita,  my second mother.

Loretta’s Blog:

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