Getting to Know Hoosier Artist Charlene Marsh

This past weekend hundreds of artists from around the United States converged on the grounds of the Indianapolis Museum of Art and the Lilly House and Gardens to display their work at the 2009 Penrod Arts Fair. While the blue sky filled with pillowing clouds and warm rays of sunshine was quite a picturesque daytime scene, there were a few stars on the ground whose work shined even brighter. was lucky enough to chat with a few of these Hoosier artists and today we will meet Charlene Marsh.

Charlene Marsh is a lifelong resident of Indiana who was born and raised in Muncie,IN. After receiving a college degree in English, she spent a few years in the business world which cemented her desire to follow her heart and make art for a living. She moved south to Bloomington and received a degree in fine arts from Indiana University. For the past 20 years, Charlene has lived in Brown County right outside of the Yellowwood State Forest in southern Indiana.

For the past several years Charlene has been working with oils on canvas, but she is far from a one trick pony. Much of her career was spent creating hand dyed wool, cotton and silk tapestries with painting being her release from the time consuming thread work. In 2006, she put down the cotton and picked up the pallet knife full time. Painting in the style of en plein air, french for in the open air, she uses natural beauty of the surrounding forest as her muse.

With that said, Charlene Marsh does not wait for inspiration. Rather she gathers all her art supplies together and hikes in to the forest daily. She said that in each of her works she wants to capture “an object of beauty that makes the heart sing.” Adding that with the ever-changing seasons and landscape of the forest, “the world is wide-open to me for exploration.”

While Ms. Marsh’s work cannot be labeled as any one particular style, it does give the feeling of impressionism. Charlene laughed as she recounted how “one museum curator labeled it expressionistic impressionism.” However many labels are attached to her work, the one that seems to resonate with all who view it is that it is beautiful. One passer-by at the Penrod turned towards her friend and said, “it is so real, I feel like I am standing in the middle of a pretty forest watching the world move around me.”

When asked were are her favorite places to see art, Charlene responded that art fairs such as the Penrod and the Broad Ripple Arts Fair are  ideal settings for several reasons. First, there is always a wide variety of art in a contained area to view and secondly, you get to interact with the artists themselves. Art Fairs are beneficial to the artists as well because they get feedback from the public that they do not get working alone in a studio. Other favorite locations of Charlene’s to view art in Indianapolis are the IMA, the Indiana State Museum and the Eiteljorg Museum in Indianapolis.

As the interview was finishing up, Charlene’s passion for creating art was just as apparent in her voice and mannerisms as it was in her words. Just the discussion of art made this once reserved woman start glowing about the beauty of creating something so tangible and expressive. It is clear to see that we all should be so lucky to find a love like this.

To see more work from Charlene Marsh visit her website here. Do yourself a favor and visit the site.

Be sure to come back tomorrow as we will talk with another Indianapolis artist who created quite a buzz at this year’s Penrod Arts Fair.