Maria Hegedus is an American artist who has lived in Abu Dhabi since March 2013. Although she painted murals and sold art part-time in the US, she decided to take her mural business fulltime upon arriving in the Emirates, thus UAE Murals was born.
Large wall-sized murals are Maria’s specialty but she also paints a variety of subjects with acrylic onto canvas, as well as watercolor on paper. She has been inspired by the culture, architecture and art of the Arab world; this can clearly be seen in her recent work.
Carrie: Welcome to Artist Strong Maria, when did you first realize you were an artist?
Thank you Carrie! I have always been “artistic” starting at a very early age. Both of my parents are educators and were aware of my propensity to the arts when I was quite young. Thankfully they nurtured this in me and I always had a collection of paper, markers, paints, glue, glitter, pencils, etc. in a large box in my home. Later they provided me with private art lessons from a family artist friend.
Carrie: Please describe the art you create.
I have a hard time with this question, honestly. The subjects and style in which I paint vary greatly but I hope viewers can see some consistencies. I truly love painting large murals! There’s something scary yet exciting when I set up my supplies and am staring at this huge, empty space in front of me. I also enjoy painting on canvases in my home and these have a pretty obvious Arab theme.
I have been so inspired since moving to the UAE (United Arab Emirates), and I really enjoy exploring this. I have also rekindled my “love affair” with watercolors. It was my “first love” in art as I started to pursue it as an adult. Recently I began painting almost exclusively with watercolor. I’m sure that will change soon, and I’m okay with that!
Carrie: How did you discover your interest in mural art?
I had my first house in my 20’s and I was decorating my master bedroom. I remember it feeling kind of plain and boring. I wanted to add some color so with no previous experience I just started painting a giant red poppy flower on the wall. I loved it. It was so freeing! From there, I painted a few murals in friends’ homes, a local hair salon, a model home (for Home Building company), and never stopped. I really enjoy the exaggerated size and the dramatic impact it can have on a room.
Carrie: Talk us through your process: how does your work move from idea to final artwork?
I am NOT your “traditional” mural artist. I do NOT enjoy painting realistic 3-dimensional landscapes like most people probably think of when they hear the word “mural.” I really enjoy murals that are a piece of ART on their own. I like dramatic themes, normally with bold color. I get inspiration and sketch very loosely on paper. Depending on how specific the client’s vision is, I will share my ideas with them, get feedback, make changes etc.
Once the client is happy with the general idea or layout, I create a more detailed accurate sketch and impose it onto photos I have taken of the wall. This way the client can have a 3D look at what the final product may look like. Finally I start the mural. I sketch with graphite first, roll the large blocks of color, and use varying brush sizes for detail. For faux finishes, I use a variety of tools such as clothes, sponges, brushes, pads, etc. None of my murals end up EXACTLY like the sketch because each piece has to go through the artistic process. I work intuitively to some degree; it gives the best outcome on a final mural!
Carrie: How do you navigate having a “moving” workspace?
That is one of the hardest parts of painting murals. I love when I can work in a space that is empty – no furniture, no people, no noise, etc., but that is rarely the case. I have to adapt. Sometimes its fun when people watch me paint, but sometimes it can be stressful, especially if they make many comments and ask many questions, but I realize they are curious and intrigued. Most of the time I put my headphones in listen to a great podcast, book on tape, or music and get in the “zone” regardless of where I am! I normally bring all of my supplies on Day 1 and leave them there at the workspace until the final day.
Carrie: How does collaboration help and/or hinder your art?
I haven’t collaborated much since moving to UAE and I would absolutely LOVE to! Any artists should feel free to send me a message through my website if you’d like to collaborate!
Carrie: How do you decide when a project is completed?
I decide once I am happy, and of course I get the client’s approval! I am normally more critical of my own work than the client, so sometimes they are happy and I still stay and fine-tune until I feel the project is complete.
Carrie: What do you hope viewers take from your art?
I hope they see passion, vibrance and are inspired!
Carrie: What is one creative resource you can’t live without?
I LOVE Instagram. I have found so many amazing artists on IG! I also really enjoy Pinterest for mural inspiration because there are so many inspiring murals that step outside the traditional mural box.
Carrie: Who/what inspires you?
EVERYTHING. Traveling inspires me greatly. Other artists via Pinterest and IG, other artists I meet in person, architecture, sunsets, great food dishes, a feeling, my children, the client’s ideas, etc. I feel inspiration all the time and have a hard time containing it all!
Carrie: How do you define Creativity?
Creativity is me expressing who I am using a physical medium. Every painting has a tiny bit of me in it. Every mural should have a fingerprint of “Maria” somewhere in it.
Be Creatively Courageous: How do you overcome the fear of starting your art on a blank wall or canvas? I want to know! Let’s talk about it in the comments below.
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