Since Mark Coffey was a young child, creating art has been an important part of his life. He always got a kick out of what he saw in the world and just naturally found himself trying to express his enjoyment with crayons, pastels, paint or whatever else could produce a mark on a surface. He was fortunate to be given much encouragement from friends, teachers and family, especially his wife Darla, who in addition to her encouragement, gives him a certain amount of leeway. He enjoys painting in front of others, getting their feedback and suggestions in the process of painting. Although he feels there was much that is mysterious and inexpressible about the creative process, there is also much that is similar to hammering a nail or playing with Legos.
Marks love of the outdoors has drawn him to spend most of his artistic energy painting landscapes, both representational and abstract. To him there his little difference between trying to describe on canvas how light plays on a tree (representational) and how “light” plays on a form that emerges from the subconscious (abstract). Both types of expression are challenging, meaningful and enjoyable to him.
And so 60 years have passed with many teachers, students, classes, exhibits, successes and failures. In that time he spent two years painting the same lake and distant hills in Chester County, Pennsylvania over and over, dozens of times. He has painted dancers, abstract images of the chakras, and street scenes from his studio window. There have been times of euphoric inspiration and periods of depressing stagnation. There have been changes of approach and style. There has been changing influences and evolving sensitivities. And age has brought on a reluctance to carry the field easel more than a half mile no matter how enticing the view.
What hasn’t changed is the childlike joy of being so totally immersed in the creative process that in that moment, nothing else matters. Where work and play and thought and feeling and even prayer are all combined in that present moment. And getting to share the result of that moment with others. And then getting to do it again tomorrow.
Since moving to Alexandria four years ago, Mark has exhibited in Gallery 75 at the Art League and in group shows at the River Farm and Goodwin House. He is pleased to be a part of the vibrant community of the Underground Gallery.