Touching People Without Contact | Living

Amanda Marlene is a local painter, art collector, massage therapist, and mother of four. She is an Austin transplant who moved to Huntsville 15 years ago to raise her family. When Marlene first arrived in Huntsville, she provided infant massage and childbirth preparation classes at the Pregnancy Care Center and taught yoga at the public library.

“It was important to me to volunteer in places that directly benefit the community,” said Marlene.

She began her journey into the art world as a muse. She was a model in the art department at the University of Texas while she was pursuing her degree in literature. During the pandemic, she made a full circle, transitioning from being an object to inspire into being a conductor.

She describes herself as an “outsider artist” because she has no formal training. Marlene became a painter as both a meditation practice and an alternative way of healing herself and others. Beginning on her 44th birthday in 2020, she painted a new piece every day for 44 days. Marlene named this first series of paintings “Revolution 44”. Marlene chose Abstract Impressionism because the modality is used to create an emotional effect, with the use of color as the main expression of emotion.

“I started painting everything around me. Instead of buying new canvas, I bought old paintings from thrift stores. People started bringing me cast-off cabinet doors and slices of wood. This gave each item a new meaning and purpose. This was all just for me. My older kids left home to join the military. I was raising school aged children during quarantine, and co-parenting in survival mode,” said Marlene.

“Some days my art comes in spurts and slops. It encompasses radical body acceptance related to pregnancy, childbirth, and the messiness of life,” said Marlene. The way her own body has changed was part of the reflective process embodied in her work. Her children were growing up, and her beloved grandmother, called Oma, was growing old. Marlene found inspiration in each stage of their lives, and how they are intimately intertwined with her own.

“I’m a homemaker. My process of painting happens between all the mundane chores of life.

I may lay down a base color before feeding our pets, Fritz and Oreo. Then get in a few strokes while the children get ready for school. I may find an hour or two some days between tending to the garden and making dinner. It’s one of the ways I mark my days. Painting is the glue that holds me together,” said Marlene.

Her initial 44 days of painting ran into September of 2020. Lucky Bat studio was having a fall show, so she spoke to gallery owner Nancy McGilliard and was invited to show her work there. It was a liberating experience to show her art, but selling it was not so easy.

“When I got the call that my first painting had sold, I was a bit heartbroken. I felt like I was being asked to sell one of my children,” said Marlene. Fortunately it was purchased by a local collector, so it remained within the community. The practice of letting go of works that were created during such an emotional period has gotten easier as her work gained recognition.

Marlene took part in a show called “Chops and Drops” at Crazywood Gallery in March of 2021, and Sipsy’s Coffee House hosted her part of the show as an installation for the following year. Her first solo show titled “Flow” was at the Lucky Bat in June of 2021. The response from the community led to “Overflow” which included four small shows that were hung simultaneously in local businesses around Huntsville. Last summer, she took part in two other group exhibits at the Lucky Bat called “Sacred Psychedelics” and “Anything Goes”.

Aside from painting for herself, she created a unique practice during the pandemic to reach out to clients in a way that could tie her love of painting with her work in the healing arts.

“Because I couldn’t provide hands on contact with my clients, I considered how I might be able to touch them in other ways,” said Marlene. She created a practice called EAMP (Expressive Art Movement Practice). For a series of eight sessions, she would connect with her clients one on one via Facetime.

She’d ask them to set an intention and then spend 45 minutes coaching them to move, breathe and paint, each using identical materials and colors They could see each other but not the art in progress. She would end the call after asking them to complete the work within the next 15 minutes, then photograph the result and exchange pictures via text message. This practice was so fulfilling that she plans to extend the offering again in the future.

Marlene currently has an installation titled “Remnants from My Parents Home” at American Shaman CBD and Circle P Antiques in Navasota. Her next installation will be at the historic jail on University where the Buzzed Cup is currently constructing the CAT Cafe.

 For more information about securing her art for purchase or show, email Amanda Marlene at [email protected].

Healing Arts