Artist Profile: Mark Beck
A painter for 25 years, Mark Beck has found the best way to keep his art fresh and creative is to change up his style. “When I look at my work sometimes, it almost looks like a different artist is painting,” says Beck.
The common thread through many of his paintings is the inclusion of simple, small structures often juxtaposed against the beauty (and sometimes fury) of the ocean. He describes his paintings as representations of his ideas and thoughts on the American experience. Though nature features prominently in his work, his art is very much about human interaction with the natural world.
Beck’s dedication to painting began as a teenager. Introduced to painting at age 10, his formative years spent in the San Francisco Bay area gave him access to world-class museums and a strong artistic community. He became enamored with the Hudson River School of painters from the 19th century. Known for painting beautiful landscapes of the Catskill, Adirondack, and White Mountains, the Hudson River School artists shared the same aesthetic values influenced by the artists of the romantice era. At age 16, Beck vowed to learn how to paint as well as the masters he so admired.
More than 25 years later, Beck has devoted his life to developing his own painting style. “I’m drawing, or thinking about images—even when I’m not at the painting, I’m working on it in my mind,” the artist explains. Painting largely from his imagination, Beck often draws inspiration from his hometown (Albuquerque, New Mexico), his family, national trends, and news stories. “If something on the news intrigues me, I’ll find a way to make a painting about it and it’s almost never obvious to the observer what the painting is about,” Beck says. He leaves it up to the viewer to interpret the meaning.
The ever-changing ocean is a prominent feature in most of Beck’s latest work and he finds different ways to incorporate it into his paintings, whether capturing a tranquil bay, or a powerful wave overtaking a home.
One of his major influences is the work of famed American artist Edward Hopper, who was fascinated by the Cape and spent summers in a cottage in Truro, and Beck wanted to see what so enthralled Hopper. He visited the Cape several years ago and spent a couple weeks exploring the landscape during the month of November. “I loved the light—and all the pine floors,” the painter says of his visit to Hopper’s world. “The forms and hills near the ocean, the colors of the Atlantic, it was all very beautiful.”