GUEST ARTIST: Finding Art In Middle Age

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor by Cristina Mazzoni - landscape - #doodlewash

Not everyone is born an artist, and not all artists can say that they have been making art for as long as they can remember. My name is Cristina Mazzoni, and between fifth grade and my late forties I did not touch a paintbrush: I came to practice art just a few short years ago.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor by Cristina Mazzoni - flowers - #doodlewash

Born and raised near Rome, Italy, and in love with my adopted state of Vermont, U.S.A., I sign my work with the initials “MCM” (Maria Cristina Mazzoni). I draw my inspiration from the landscape, flora, and fauna of my two home countries, and from any other place I am lucky enough to visit: I no longer know how to travel without a watercolor sketchbook, pencil, pen, a small palette, and a water brush or two.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor by Cristina Mazzoni - farm - #doodlewash

For a long time, words, and not images, were my favored form of self-expression. It was only in my late 40s, in the midst of a happy career as a professor of Italian Studies, that new administrative responsibilities left me tired of words. During a trip with my kids to a local arts and crafts shop, a display of zentangle supplies caught my eye.

I bought books, paper, pencils, and pens, and, when black and white were no longer enough, I started adding color—first with Tombow markers, then with a small Sakura Koi watercolor sketch box, and, finally, with watercolor tubes (my absolute favorite art medium).

My collection of art supplies makes me feel happy and safe, and I have an obsessive tendency to buy a second tube of necessary colors as soon as the one I am using is halfway gone. I am prudent that way. I like to squeeze out fresh paint every day because I love pure color *and* I am rather messy. I am partial to ceramic palettes and only use plastic when traveling.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor by Cristina Mazzoni - landscape - #doodlewash

I could not paint without Schmincke Translucent Orange, Winsor & Newton’s Cerulean Blue, Daniel Smith’s Ultramarine Blue, Sennelier’s Golden Ochre, and any brand of Manganese Blue, Opera, and New Gamboge. I like papers that are not heavily sized and that can take an abundance of water: Arches Cold Press 140# is a recent favorite, and Strathmore Aquarius my true love. My ridiculous brush collection includes rotating favorites, such as Princeton Neptune rounds and Lowe Cornells (inexpensive yet wonderful in every way).

I also have a growing watercolor-instruction library because I like learning from books rather than videos (literature, after all, is my first love); some favorite watercolor authors include Richard Taylor, John LovettAnne Elsworth, and Jeanne Dobie.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor by Cristina Mazzoni - colorful sky - #doodlewash

For the past two years or so, I have maintained a Facebook art page where I post daily watercolors paired with lines of poetry that I love and that complement the spirit of each painting.

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Watercolor by Cristina Mazzoni - park - #doodlewash

Here are some favorite lines from a Vermont author, lines that perfectly synthesize why we absolutely need, among other things, perhaps, art:

The Emperor, / his bullies / and henchmen / terrorize the world / every day, / which is why / every day / we need / a little poem / of kindness, / a small song / of peace / a brief moment / of joy.

David Budbill, “What We Need”

Thanks so much for reading and see you on my Facebook page, I hope!

Cristina Mazzoni
MCM arts Facebook

Recommended2 recommendationsPublished in Featured Artists
  1. Elizabeth 6 years ago

    Inspired by this gorgeous artwork — I also started late, and I so appreciate this lovely and encouraging post.

  2. Susan Feniak 6 years ago

    Lovely! Another late comer here and I too appreciate your story.

  3. susanjk 6 years ago

    Found my painting passion also later in life – as in my mid-fifties. I have always been addicted to fine papers, and beautiful pens, journals and sketchbooks – I just never knew what to do with them!
    A 2013 Watercolour Retreat in Marrakesh changed all that.
    Now I create note cards, and recipe cards, sketchbooks and gift tags.
    And beautifully crafted journals.
    Love your work!

    • Cristina Mazzoni 6 years ago

      Marrakesh sounds like a magical place to learn to love watercolor. Thank you for your kind words!

  4. M. L. Kappa 6 years ago

    Lovely work, Cristina! 🌺

  5. L.E. Hunt 6 years ago

    Such an inspiration! I love hearing about people who start late. I’m 17 and I’ve always felt rushed to achieve when in reality, you can do anything you want at any point in life. And your art is so beautiful!!

    • Cristina Mazzoni 6 years ago

      Thank you L.E. Hunt. Some things become much harder to learn with aging but art, thankfully, is not one of them!

  6. memadtwo 6 years ago

    Magical landscapes. (K)

  7. Sand Salt Moon 6 years ago

    Inspiring and amazing collection of Christina’s work highlighted here. Together, her pieces form a wonderful body of work.

    • Cristina Mazzoni 6 years ago

      You are very kind, Cynthia, as well as a wonderful artist yourself. Thank you!

  8. twozsinapod 6 years ago

    I’m re-finding art in my 30s and discovering it’s where my heart truly belongs. I sometimes wish I’d listened to art teachers and gone to art school, but I also enjoy the freedom of being (mostly) self-taught with room to grow and explore at my own pace.

    • Cristina Mazzoni 6 years ago

      I feel the same way, twozsinapod: how wonderful it would be to have received all that training–but this is great, too. Keep art-ing!

  9. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 6 years ago

    The vibrancy of your colors, Cristina, make me linger over your images. How wonderful to have discovered your love and talent for art, especially for watercolor. The expressive blend of paint in your art proves your preference for limited sizing in watercolor paper. Watercolor that is allowed to be watercolor – beautiful.

  10. […] via GUEST ARTIST: Finding Art In Middle Age — Doodlewash […]

  11. Sandra Strait 5 years ago

    Your work is lovely and expressive! I’m another one who got my creative juices kickstarted through Zentangle.

  12. Sharon Nolfi 5 years ago

    I joined Doodlewash in June 1917, right after your feature appeared. That explains how I missed it. Well, you know I’m a fan.

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