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(Image: Mark Gardner)

Artist of the Week: Mark Gardner

Seattle might be notorious for niche coffee shops and scenic waterways, but locals know it's also home to an array of people who love to create. This city is chock-full of artists who we love to feature weekly on Seattle Refined! If you have a local artist in mind that you would like to see featured, let us know at And if you're wondering just what constitutes art, that's the beauty of it; it's up to you! See all of our past Artists of the Week in our dedicated section.

Seattle Refined: How long have you been creating? Do you work with different mediums?
Mark Gardner: I've been creating art for over fifty years. I work in pastel and oil.

Can you tell us about your artistic process and how the different stages work into it?
I most often work from life, en plein air in pastel. This allows me to capture the nuances of the landscape at that particular moment in time. Then, I will often recreate my work in pastel as oil paintings. My oil paintings consist of several layers of paint.

Tell us about where your inspiration for your art comes from.
When I see something exciting or beautiful, then I want to paint it. This is why I prefer to work in the open air. I don't do well with working from photos.

Do you have a specific "beat" you like best – nature, food, profiles, etc.?
You will find that I mostly create scenes from places where I have had an opportunity to spend time outdoors, such as the Pacific Northwest. Other places you will find in my work include South America and the woods and landscapes of Western Pennsylvania. As far as a beat - I want to be outdoors as much as possible, and that shows up in my work.

Do you have one piece of art that means more to you or is extremely special to you?
"Port Orford" sticks out in my mind because I completed this pastel while experiencing forty-mile an hour winds. I made my way out onto an island to get the vantage point. It was a little dicey as I had to navigate a thin ridge to get into position, but once out there, I found a cove that protected me from the wind. I was very happy with how it turned out.

What experiences in your life have affected your art the most?
As far as my practice goes, studying art at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art did a lot for me. Also, I like to travel, and the West Coast is one of my favorite places. I was born there and have made numerous trips back to spend time and paint in the area. So, a lot of that shows up in my work.

If we want to see more of your work, where should we go to find it?

What is next for you? Anything you're working on right now that you're really excited about?
As with most people, COVID hampered my travel over the past year, but I'm looking forward to planning a southwestern United States trip. There are so many exciting landscapes there that I would love to paint. But I find something exciting wherever I go.