Marci Oleszkiewicz grew up in the city of Chicago in a family of four. Her mother home schooled all four children where each child’s gifts were nurtured and encouraged. Marci’s father was a carpenter and there wasn’t a moment where he was not renovating or working on some project for their home. Looking back Marci attributes much of her creativity to seeing her father always working on something, creating something out of nothing. “My dad would say see Marci if you work at something little by little you will see your idea come about. Seeing my Dad’s work ethic and learning from my Mom the value of self discipline as a home schooler, I believe gave me some of the foundational tools I would need later in life to succeed as an artist.”
Marci’s passion for art was inspired at a young age. As a child, she remembers sitting at her little desk making pictures. “It seemed I often communicated visually. Whether it was in a Christmas card to family or a personal journal entry, there was always a drawing to be found. I remember imagining my little creations coming alive as I made the final touches.”
Although she has been studying art and painting for some time, it was in 2007 when things started to move forward and she began to see what the future might hold for her as an artist. Upon entering several art competitions Marci was not only accepted in two of the top shows, but also received very substantial awards from both. An award of excellence from the OPA and the best of show award from the AIS. Not long after, she was included in Southwest Art Magazine’s 21 under 31 and had her first show at Gallery Russia in Scottsdale, AZ. “Receiving so many incredible honors, one after another, really encouraged and pushed me into becoming a full time painter.” Since then Marci has continued to paint full time, focusing on her annual show. “I am always so encouraged to hear the response from my collectors every year, how they connect and are so touched by what I paint. It is my goal as an artist to do just that, to create works that resonate with the hearts of others, to speak clearly and deeply to the innermost being. To capture moments of life on canvas that convey beauty and wonder, joy and sorrow, love and truth. I’ve heard it said if you paint from your heart you will speak to the hearts of your viewers, and that is my desire.”
“The Lord has blessed me with this passion for art and I am delighted to be able to share with you the beauty and wonder I see in this created world.”
My passion for art was inspired at a young age. As a child, I always remember sitting at my little desk making a picture. It seemed I often communicated visually. Whether it was in a Christmas card to family or a personal journal entry, there was always a drawing to be found. I remember thinking how my little creations would become alive as I made the final touches.
I was homeschooled through most of my schooling years. I believe that it was through this creative education, I was able to freely explore the inner drive I had toward becoming an artist. It was during this time that my first art teacher gave me the confidence to pursue this passion. I have since studied briefly at The American Academy of Art in Chicago, and regularly at The Palette and Chisel Academy of Fine Arts in Chicago. It was at the latter that I studied with many amazing artists to whom I credit my knowledge on how to see as a painter and am grateful for their generosity and encouragement, Including Clayton J. Beck III, Scott Tallman Powers, Romel De La Torre, and Diane Rath. I have also been fortunate to be able to take workshops with Rose Frantzen, David Leffel, Sherry McGraw and Quang Ho. I am forever grateful to all those who share their knowledge so willingly.
In May of 2007, I was honored to receive the best of show award in the American Impressionist Society’s National show and only a week later received an award of excellence at the Oil Painter’s of American National Juried exhibition. I was also honored to be a part of Southwest Art Magazine’s 21 under 31 section in the September 2007 issue.
I am also inspired and study the works of many of the great painters, including Antonio Mancini, Nicholi Fechin, John Singer Sargent, Norman Rockwell and Richard Schmid to name a few.
Groups & Organizations:
- The Palette & Chisel Academy of Fine Arts
- Art Renewal Center – Living Master
- Oil Painters of America – Signature Member
- American Impressionists Society – Signature Member
- Portrait Society of America
- Plein air Painters of Chicago
- American Women Artists
- American Art Collector, show previews, 2007-2017
- Strokes of Genius 3, 2013
- Southwest Art Magazine Featured Artist, Marci 2010
- Epoch Times, Art Inspired by Purity, 2013
- Southwest Art Magazine, 21 under 31, September 2007
- Paul Scott Gallery Scottsdale, AZ
- Linden Gallery, Door County, WI
- Concetta D Gallery, Albuquerque, NM
- 2018 Art Renewal Center 2018 Salon International, Finalist
- 2017 Bold Brush October, 3rd place
- 2016 Richeson School and Gallery, Portrait/Figurative competition, Honorable Mention
- 2016 OPA Regional show, Gold Medal Award
- 2015 OPA Salon Show, Silver Medal Award
- 2015 OPA Spring online Showcase, 3rd place Award
- 2015 OPA Summer online Showcase, 1st place Award
- 2015 Art Renewal Center 2015 International Salon, Finalist
- 2014 Bold Brush March, Finalist, Judge Phil Couture
- 2014 Raymar September Competition, Finalist, Judge, Daniel Keyes
- 2012 Bold Brush February, Finalist, Judge Fong Wei Liu
- 2012 Palette and Chisel Gold Medal Show, Gold Medal
- 2012 OPA Regional show, Gold Medal Award
- 2011 OPA online showcase, Honorable mention
- 2011 Bold Brush April, 2nd Place, Judge Robert Lemler
- 2010 Bold Brush December, Finalist, Judge Bruce Cameron Liston
- 2009 Bosque Art Classic, 1st time entrant award
- 2008 American Impressionist Society, Award of Excellence
- 2007 Richeson Landscape & Exterior Show, 1st place Oil painting
- 2007 OPA National Exhibition, Award of Excellence
- 2007 American Impressionist Society, Best of Show Award
- 2019 Crooked Tree Arts Center, AIS small Works Show, Petosky, MI
- 2018 Waterhouse Gallery, Small Gems show, Santa Barbara, CA
- 2017 Richeson School of Art and Gallery, Figure/Portrait show, Kimberly, WI
- 2017 Waterhouse Gallery, Anniversary Show, Santa Barbara, CA
- 2017 Salmagundi Club, Hudson Valley Art Association, 84th Annual national Juried Exhibition, New York]
- 2017 Waterhouse Gallery, Small Gems Exhibit, Santa Barbara, CA
- 2017 Randy Higbee Gallery, AIS inaugural small works show, Costa Mesa, CA
- 2017 Gallery Russia, 10 year anniversary show, Scottsdale, AZ
- 2017 Richeson School of Art and Gallery, Small works 2017, Kimberly, WI
- 2016 Castle Gallery Fine Art, Holiday Show, Fort Wayne, IN
- 2016 Waterhouse Gallery, Anniversary Show, Santa Barbara, CA.
- 2016 Richeson School and Gallery, Portrait/Figurative show, Kimberly, WI
- 2016 Castle Gallery Fine Art, OPA Salon Show, Fort Wayne, IN
- 2016 Eisele Gallery, OPA Regional show, Cincinnati, OH
- 2016 Southwest Gallery, OPA National show, Dallas, TX
- 2016 Gallery Russia, Solo Show, Scottsdale, AZ
- 2016 Waterhouse Gallery, Small Gems show, Santa Barbara, CA
- 2015 Waterhouse Gallery, Anniversary Show, Santa Barbara, CA
- 2015 Eckert & Ross Fine Art Gallery, OPA Eastern Exhibit, Indianapolis, IN
- 2015 Beverly McNeil Gallery, OPA Salon Show, Birmingham, AL
- 2015 Gallery Russia, Solo Show, Scottsdale, AZ
- 2015 Cutter & Cutter Fine Art Gallery, OPA National show, St.Augustine, FL
- 2014 Eisele Gallery of Fine Art, OPA Regional, Cincinnati, OH
- 2014 Gallery Russia, Solo Show, Scottsdale, AZ
- 2013 Gallery Russia, Solo Show, Scottsdale, AZ
- 2012 Eckert and Ross Fine Art Gallery, AIS Show, Indianapolis, IN
- 2012 Waterhouse Gallery, Great American Figurative Show, Santa Barbara, CA
- 2012 Bennington Center for the Arts, OPA regional show, Bennington, VT
- 2012 Gallery Russia Solo Show, Scottsdale, AZ
- 2011 Waterhouse Gallery, Great American Figurative Show, Santa Barbara, CA
- 2011 Silvana Gallery, International Figurative Show, Glendale, CA
- 2011 Gallery Russia Solo Show, Scottsdale, AZ
- 2010 Waterhouse Gallery, Great American Figurative Show, Santa Barbara, CA
- 2010 Walls Gallery, OPA Eastern Regional show, NC
- 2010 Galley Russia Solo Show Scottsdale, AZ
- 2010Southwest Art Magazine featured artist “Portrait of a young artist” March Issue
- 2009 Waterhouse Gallery, Great American Figurative Artists Exhibition, Santa Barbara, CA
- 2009 Saks Galleries, American Impressionist Society 10th Annual Nat. Exhibition, Denver, CO
- 2009 South Street Art Gallery, American Women Artists National Exhibition, Easton, MD2009 Bosque Art Classic, 1st time entrant award, Clifton, TX
- 2009 Jack Richeson:Portrait and Figurative National Show, Kimberly, WI
- 2009 Jack Richeson:Still life and Floral National Show, Kimberly, WI2009 Gallery Russia, Journeys Near and Far 2009 Solo Exhibition, Scottsdale, AZ
- 2008 Waterhouse Gallery, Great American Figurative Artists Exhibition, Santa Barbara, Ca
- 2008 Coda Fine Art Gallery, American Impressionist Society 9th annual National Exhibition, Palm Desert, California
- 2008 Richland Fine Art, OPA Eastern Regional Exhibition, Nashville, Tenn
- 2008 Barnsite/Linden Gallery, Exploring The Hidden Realms of China
- 2008 Barnsite/Linden Gallery, A Beautiful Child, Kewaunee & Ellison Bay WI
- 2008 Florida’s Forgotten Coast Plein Air Invitational, Appalachicola, FL
- 2008 Painting South of The Clouds, Kunming China
- 2008 Gallery Russia, Painterly Impressions, 2 Person Exhibition, Scottsdale, AZ
- 2007 Southwest Art Magazine, 21 under 31, September 2007
- 2007/08 Palette and Chisel, 3 man Exhibition, Chicago, IL
- 2007 Plein Air Easton, Easton, MD
- 2007 Weatherburn Gallery, OPA Regional Show, Naples, FL
- 2007 Jack Richeson:Landscape & Exterior National Show, Oil painting 1st place, Kimberly, WI
- 2007 Hilligoss Gallery, American Impressionist Society Salon Invitational, Chicago, IL
- 2007 Sunset Art Gallery, Society of Master Impressionists Amarillo, TX
- 2007 Whistle Pik Gallery, OPA National Juried Exhibition, Elaine & Peter Adams OPAM Award of Excellence Fredericksburg, TX
- 2007 Hilligoss Gallery, American Impressionists Society, Best of Show Chicago, IL
- 2006 The Palette and Chisel, Gold Medal Show, 2nd place, Chicago, IL
- 2006 The Palette and Chisel, 3 Artists From 3 Walks of Life, Chicago, IL
- 2006 Brazier Fine Art Gallery, OPA Regional Miniature Show, Richmond, VA
- 2006 Sunset Art Gallery, Society of Master Impressionists, Amarillo, TX
- 2006 Dana Gallery, OPA National Juried Exhibitions, Missoula, MT
- 2005 The Tavern Club, What Exactly is Plein Air Painting? PAPC-SW, Chicago, IL
- 2005 Marwen, 2 Years 2 Reflect, Solo Show, Chicago, IL
- 2005 Barnsite Arts Studio, Barns & Farms Nat. Juried Show, Kewaunee, WI
- 2005-08 The Palette & Chisel Academy, Plein Air Painters of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Marci Oleszkiewicz | Portrait of a Young Artist
By: Bonnie Gangelhoff | January 1, 1970
Marci Oleszkiewicz, 30, remembers the early days of her fine-art career, when she was a student at the legendary Palette & Chisel Academy of Fine Arts in Chicago. There were times when she would stand in front of her easel, stare at a pristine landscape, and not feel 100 percent inspired. She kept wondering: Where are the people? “I would look at the scene and think it would be great if I had a model standing there with an umbrella in her hand or the wind blowing through her hair,” she says.
Eventually, Oleszkiewicz (pronounced o-la-skevitch) accepted the fact that she was a “people painter.” “I embraced that I was a figurative painter,” says the artist, “and my work has continued to take a good turn.”
Some might say that is a bit of an understatement. During the last year, Oleszkiewicz’s paintings were juried into nine shows, including prestigious events like the American Impressionist Society’s annual exhibition, which was held at Saks Galleries in Denver, CO, and the Great American Figurative Artists Exhibition at Waterhouse Gallery in Santa Barbara, CA, where her works hung alongside paintings by prominent artists such as Burton Silverman, C.W. Mundy, and Carolyn Anderson. Also, at a relatively young age she is already a member of the Oil Painters of America and the Society of Master Impressionists.
Raised in inner-city Chicago, Oleszkiewicz knew early on that when she grew up she wanted to be an artist. At first, she imagined life as a ballerina or classical pianist because she was a serious student of dance and music. But she also had a penchant for drawing, whether it was on a family Christmas card or in her private journal, where she often recorded scenes from ballet classes or outings with friends to local parks.
Oleszkiewicz had a non-traditional education in that her mother home-schooled her through high school. “My parents wanted more for their children than what the public schools had to offer, and the private schools were too expensive,” she explains.
In addition to her mother’s instruction in the basics—math, history, science, and English—Marci’s father instructed her and three other siblings in Bible studies and in his own trade, carpentry, showing the children how to build things and teaching them practical geometry. As Oleszkiewicz grew older, she had more and more unstructured time when she was allowed to pursue her own areas of interest. When parents of other home-schooled children offered classes in art, Oleszkiewicz readily signed up and was soon singled out for her talents.
Today, she sees an important link between her work ethic as a home-schooled student and a full-time artist. “Home schooling really taught me discipline. I realized early on that no one could do the work for me, and if I didn’t study, no one else would suffer but me. This is one of the valuable lessons I learned that I have applied to my art,” she explains. “There is no one making me punch in and out on a time clock. Either I sit down at my easel and get to work, or it doesn’t get done.”
These days Oleszkiewicz begins her workday by grabbing a cup of coffee and turning on the radio to a classical or Christian station. Or she may play music by what she calls “old timers” like Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, or Billie Holiday. She has a small studio in Chicago but lately has been working in a studio at her home, located in a suburb southwest of the city. Oleszkiewicz says her first step each day is to re-evaluate the previous day’s work. She asks herself key questions such as: What is the main idea for the piece? Am I capturing it and staying on track with that idea?
She often tries to visualize what she wants to accomplish each day. “Studying for many hours in the open studio of the Palette & Chisel, I found that I work best when I know how much time I have and then mentally preparing for what I can get accomplished in that amount of time. Not every day goes smoothly, but it gives me a place to start and a goal to aim for,” she says.
While her paintings are inspired by many different elements—light and color, for example—much of her current inspiration springs from her subject matter, mainly children and old men. She is drawn to children as subjects because of their innocence and unbridled curiosity. She says she relishes watching them explore everything from a flower growing by a creek to what lies behind a closed door, as in her painting THE SECRET (at right).
Many of her child models she finds close to home. In ANTIQUE DRESS she portrays her niece Anya at a friend’s birthday party, which happened to have a theme based on the television show Little House on the Prairie. “This dress was passed down from my grandmother. She wore it and so did my aunt,” says the artist. (Oleszkiewicz is a fourth-generation American whose ancestors on both sides originally came from Poland.) “I saw Anya standing there against a dark background, and the contrast of light and shadow captured my eye.”
In another painting, Anya donned her grandfather’s hat and projected such an air of innocence combined with confidence that Oleszkiewicz felt compelled to paint her. “She made me think about how fragile that confidence really is. As Anya grows older, the world will impact her, and that confidence can be shaken,” says Oleszkiewicz.
Although still quite young herself, Oleszkiewicz often refers to herself an “old soul.” For example, she relishes painting old men, especially men with beards. “There is this aura about them, a sense of dignity and wisdom that seems to emanate from them when you listen to their stories of the way things were—the struggles and joys in life that made them who they are,” she says. “Their faces, with all their lines and creases, have a lot of character. And the edges of their beards are fun to paint. The edges blend into their shirts, and you can’t tell where one ends and the other begins.”
She also has a passion for bygone eras, especially the 1930s and ’40s. “I love that whole time period. Men wearing suits everyday, women wearing dresses,” she says. “I can imagine walking down the street then and just seeing paintings everywhere.”
Oleszkiewicz says that she has found her creative niche in painting people and that she’ll continue to follow her passion for figurative art. “We all have a story to tell. You can see it in a person’s eyes,” she says. “It is this aspect that most appeals to me, to capture an emotion. It is this narrative quality of figurative work that I feel speaks in ways that can touch the viewer’s heart. It certainly touches my heart.”
She does expect, however, to keep evolving in the genre. Lately she has been incorporating multiple figures into her works, such as in DRESS REHEARSAL, which shows a bevy of young girls in a dance class dressed in traditional Polish folk costumes. She is also gathering props from the ’30s and ’40s, such as women’s clothing and old pots and pans, in preparation for capturing the flavor and figures of her favorite era.
Oleszkiewicz has no regrets about not choosing a career as a ballerina or as a classical pianist because she still dabbles in these pursuits, and she translates some of their inherent grace and beauty into her paintings. “Once I saw it was possible to make a living as a painter, I never second-guessed that I would. I wouldn’t say that I have necessarily “made it,” but, praise God, I am walking the path.”
Waterhouse Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA; Gallery Russia, Scottsdale, AZ; www.marcioleszkiewicz.com.
Solo show, Gallery Russia, March 18-April 18.
Featured in March 2010