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.
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.
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.
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 Lovett, Anne Elsworth, and Jeanne Dobie.
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.
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!
MCM arts Facebook