Mark Lightfoot was raised in Michigan, He attended the University of Michigan, graduating with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Design. He moved to the west coast that year to attend the University of Washington in Seattle, completing his Master of Fine Arts Degree. His thesis work was figure painting, with an emphasis in oils.
Since completing his graduate studies, Mark has exhibited his work extensively in Michigan, Washington, British Columbia and California. He won Fourth Place in the Mixed Media category at the California Works exhibition in Sacramento. His paintings, drawings, sculpture and handmade paper pieces are in private collections and public buildings throughout the west.
For over ten years, Mark managed several arts organizations in British Columbia and California, including Sun Gallery in Hayward. Currently, he is developing his art career in his studio in Oakland, California.
Since 1981, Mark has also operated his own business producing custom fine art for a variety of private and business clients. Real estate developers, facility planners and interior designers have appreciated his flexibility, experience and professionalism. For his private clients, Mark provides custom fine art in a variety of media.
In 2011, Mark and four other artists partnered to open Manna Gallery, located in Oakland's flourishing Art Murmur arts district. You will find more information about Manna Gallery and Art Murmur on Mark's Links page.
In 2013, Mark began teaching Pastel Drawing at Merritt College in Oakland. In the fall of 2015, he will also begin teaching 2-Dimensional Design. Check the Calendar page in August for more details about the classes.
What Motivates Me
My work is about my lifelong passion for and connection to nature. To convey the sense of mystery I find hidden there, I use its colors, shapes, textures, and shadows as elements in my paintings.
Although seemingly chaotic, nature has its own structure. My response to nature’s movement and energy as well as its structure is what connects and grounds me.
In the process of creating these artworks I recapture my original response to all that my world has to offer visually as well as emotionally. It is this wonder and beauty I want the viewer to see.
The artwork you see before you is the end result of a process. It comes about without an initial plan or concept. I begin by making marks on a blank paper or canvas surface. I pour, drip, spatter, roll, slap and distress the surface with brushes, rags, plastic sheeting and other tools until the surface has layers of movement and texture. I avoid planning at this point in the process, keeping my mind open and responding to what is happening in the moment. When I feel sufficient layers of paint have been applied to the surface, I hang the piece on my studio wall.
I usually work on several pieces at once. I will spend several hours or days looking at the pieces, until images begin to emerge. I pay attention to the latent energy in each piece - the energy that seems to dictate the entire composition of the artwork. I may rotate the pieces often to see which position reveals the energy that dictates the result.
When I begin to see shapes, lines and eventually forms appearing, I begin to define them, building up layers of paint with controlled brushwork. When working on canvas or paper, I often introduce layers of oil paint after the canvas has been sealed with acrylic medium. When working on paper, drawing tools such as colored pencil, charcoal or pastel are used as well.