When I asked October’s Artist of the Month “Who is Marietta Harrigan” her response was a modest “I’m a painter, I guess.” She told me that “I’ve always avoided the word ‘Artist’ because it seems a little presumptuous to me. Maybe I’ll never work hard or long enough to earn that moniker. So, I’m a painter.” Many artists work their entire lives without recognition, or even visibility… Marietta is thrilled to have some small successes, sales, and encouragement.
Whatever you call her, one thing is for sure – she is incredibly talented! In her hands, oils and pastels transform into visual masterpieces; masterpieces that come from playing with contrasts of color, texture, scale, line, dark and light. Marietta said “I like to find an emotion in a place, person or thing that needs to come out. I often use the world around me as a catalyst; it’s ever changing and fleeting. I like to think I’ve held on to one blink and captured a spark, an essence.”
Marietta’s life began on her parents’ wheat farm near Prescott, Washington. Her career has gone from being voted “Most Talented” in ninth grade and driving a sugar beet truck to eventually earning a degree in Fine Art from Whitman College and studying Visual Communications at several schools, including The School of Visual Design and Shoreline Community College. Her professional career was spent working with computer art, using a CAD program and other software, Illustrator, and Photoshop as well as dimensional design for drafting at a large aircraft company in the Puget Sound. She worked all over the area in Engineering Operations as an SPEEA (Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace) technical employee.
Eventually, Marietta and her husband, Pat, were ready to retire and wanted to be near their sailboat at Cap Sante Marina. They had sailed all over the San Juans and British Columbia and just loved the life. They had sailed around Guemes Island but didn’t know much about it. The journey to their new home began with a realtor from Anacortes who had this house to show them…”out on the island. We saw it in October, and we moved in that very same house at the first of the year.” They’d been in Seattle for almost thirty years and don’t miss it one bit! Life on Guemes allows Marietta to turn her artistic focus to what inspires her – nature! She takes photos and often sketches. She has binders filled with little things that can inspire her next idea. Often these things are juxtaposed, creating something new.
When she’s not painting, Marietta writes in her journal every morning. “I have stacks of journals in boxes. I told Pat if something happens to me, burn them! Ha!” She loves to read and belongs to an island book club. The Harrigan’s also like to go out and crab in season on their small boat. Marietta likes baseball and follows the M’s faithfully “in spite of years of frustration.”
Marietta enjoys music and played the flute and the piano. She told me that she adores this island and walking, hiking, hanging with her husband, and the fabulous times they get to be with their sons and grandkids here; to share this paradise. “I love the community on Guemes, and I have met some of my very best friends here. I’m so grateful for that and to finally get an opportunity to make art every day. What amazing artists this little island has nurtured. It fills my heart.”