Unofficial Website of Master Painter Mark Arian
Biography of Mark Arian - Romantic Realist

The exceptional work of master painter Arian is the product of natural artistic talent and heartfelt passion, tempered by more than thirty years of devoted study, astute observation and the unfurling realization of his vast artistic vision.
Arian's artistic career began to unfold as a child growing up in the Midwest, where he poured over books on animals and then carefully drew the pictures freehand into a treasured portfolio of drawings and sketches that he kept by his side. His passion for drawing knew no bounds, and soon after, he was creating charcoal portraits of his relatives and painting still life's on an easel set up in the basement of his family's home. When Arian entered the third grade, one of his most captivating memories was when a teacher taught him to draw a rowboat in perspective. This first experience with Realism launched him towards what would become his greatest artistic passion to date. In his later childhood years, Arian knew that he wanted to study art or architecture as a life pursuit, and when he wasn't drawing and sketching, he often built small scale model buildings out of balsa wood.

One of the most significant artistic turning points in Arian's development came at the age of 14 when he experienced his first true transcendental moment upon viewing the original work of the Dutch 17th century master, Rembrandt, for the first time. He was visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York when he came upon a painting that shocked him as thoroughly as it thrilled him. It was a Rembrandt painting of a woman's profile.

"Something opened within me that day that is still a primary influence in all of my work. It was the 'chiaroscuro' - the brilliant interplay of light and shadow, which evoked a sense of transcendent, uncanny presence that I had never witnessed before in a work of art. Rembrandt captured the soul of his subjects in a way that few have ever done - the imprint of spirit clearly painting through him as heavenly muse. It brought a whole new dimension to art and life for me."

Upon returning to his studies, he realized that his aspiration as an artist was to create art that would touch people's souls just as deeply as Rembrandt had touched his.

At the age of 21, Arian took the vows of a monk and was granted the same rare opportunity to create art that Michelangelo once had - both were sponsored by a religious organization to cultivate their artistic genius. For almost 2 decades, Arian painted seven days a week, 10 hours a day, with seemingly boundless energy for his beloved craft. During this time of seclusion, Arian heightened his level of spiritual awareness and raised his level of creativity to a whole new dimension.

"Art, for me is not only a means of self-expression, but a means of self realization and personal growth. I strive to express the eternal qualities of humanity that transcend our individual differences - the archetypal truths of love, peace and beauty that touch all of us. The greatest meaning I've found in my life resides within these basic truths and because of this, I want to convey them through my art."

The scope of Arian's command over his art is demonstrated by his ability to paint a wide variety of subjects. During 1981, he was commissioned to paint two historic murals, each measuring 12 by 20 feet. These historic murals have been viewed by millions of visitors at the renowned Wheeling Civic Center. During the dedication ceremony, the state Governor, an avid art collector, described Arian's work as "extraordinary and of art rarely seen in this country today."

To further pursue his passion for classical composition, figurative realism, and anatomy, Arian traveled across country to interview the New York Academy of Art. Based on one impromptu charcoal drawing, he was offered a full scholarship on the first day he arrived. Although the school is very prestigious, he didn't sense that the teacher would influence his artwork to the level he felt confident he could achieve. So, he continued his travels to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where he met master sculptor, Angelo Frudakis. Upon meeting the renowned artist, it was clear to Arian that he could refine his own gift for painting by sculpting and drawing from live models at the Frudakis Academy of Classic Realism.

Later, at the Barnstone Studios in Pennsylvania, Arian continued to study drawing, color theory and classical composition using the golden mean, or divine geometry.

Arian then traveled to the Ecole Des Beaux Arts in Paris; then on to other major European cities - studying the great masters, visiting the magnificent museums and marveling over the beauty of the sweeping countryside. He settled at a private art academy in the villa of 15th century writer and philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli. During his travels abroad, Arian became strongly influenced by several well-known European artists. He was captivated by the work of 18th century British painter J.W. Waterhouse, a Romantic Classicist with a love for legend and mystery. Like Arian, he had an unerring sense of composition, and for subtle color harmonies that rely on the judicious choice of complementary hues. The women Waterhouse paints are a sensitive, inimitable combination of modesty and sensuality, imbued with the painter's own imagination.

The breathtaking craftsmanship of William Bouguereau, an 18th century French painter, has also notably influenced Arian's work. His realism is subtly idealized, creating an ethereal quality that evokes spiritual overtones. For him, form is the supreme object of art. The beautiful arrangement of shape, line, and color were of such importance to Bouguereau that he often had trouble naming his own paintings, as Arian has experienced for similar reasons.

Perhaps the most enduring influence on Arian's evolving painter's hand has been American expatriate John Singer Sargent, an American Realist born in Florence in 1856. "My endless admiration for Sargent's faultless draftsmanship is due, in large part, to the amazing economy of strokes and virtuoso brushwork that all of his paintings so aptly display." Inspired and filled with the culture and art of Europe, Arian drew from plaster casts, live models, and continued to study color theory. His art was exhibited during the annual festival in the picturesque coastal city of Viareggio, near Florence, Italy.

After returning to America, Arian spent the next several years as Art Director for the Palace of Gold in Wheeling, WV. During this privileged period, Arian supervised the creation of paintings, stained glass windows, tapestries, and murals, including several large ceiling murals. Acclaimed by the media as the 'Taj Mahal of the West', the Palace is a seven years in the making miracle of inlaid marble walls and floors containing 230 tons of 50 kinds of marble from around the world. Featured in full-page articles in such magazines as Time, Life, and the Washington Post, it's crystal chandeliers, 80 stained glass windows, and 8,000 square feet of 22 karat gold leaf have attracted more than half a million visitors each year.

When his work on the Palace of Gold was completed, Arian was inextricably drawn to move to one of nature's most beautiful geographical areas - the Southern Coast of California. He continued to refine his craft amidst the scenic coastline he found so conducive to artistic expression. During this period, he frequently pilgrimaged to the beautiful island of Maui, where, in meditative reverie, he was inspired to conjure 'worlds dripping with unearthly beauty' that would later influence his emerging phase of romantic realism.

For almost a decade, until the late 1990's, Arian focused on painting nostalgia scenes. Often compared to the American illustrator Norman Rockwell, he painted scenes that were endearing and idyllic, and frequently included his two growing sons as subjects. At the height of his success in this genre, with poster, greeting card and calendar contracts in place with major publishing houses, he experienced an overwhelming urgency to move on from the nostalgia, to allow his creative expression to rise to new heights. He wanted to move farther into fine art - to stretch beyond his limits with line, color, harmony, balance and rhythm, while still maintaining the integrity of realism. His unrest was palpable, overriding the lucrative offers to produce more nostalgia in favor of following this higher calling.

He began to draw from live models several times a week, taking great care in developing each individual composition through preliminary conceptual sketches, compositional treatments and color studies. Moving from nostalgic realism to romantic realism, he began to paint idyllic scenes combining nature and women - two of the artist's timeless and favored subjects.

His first painting of a beautiful woman in classical roman garments, "Eternal Mystery", quickly resulted in a new contract with Masterpiece Publishing Inc., a publisher of fine art limited editions. The paintings that followed were equally compelling, with a spiritual quality that expresses what Arian calls, 'passive lucidity'.

His images themselves are deeply intuitive. According to Arian, "the images create themselves, expressing life's magnificence through the medium of art." The appeal of Arian's work is timeless and global. There is a peaceful and pristine quality in his art, which remains consistent regardless of the subject matter. Many people experience a rare serenity when viewing Arian's work, which is much of the reason why his images seem to touch everyone.

"There are times that I lose self-consciousness and just watch my hand moving in response to my oneness with the subject; that's when magic happens, and I know that forces beyond me are working through my brush…these are the moments that I live for as an artist."

His collector list spans the globe, including composer and performer George Harrison, Michael Jackson, Loni Anderson, Tippi Hedren, Earl Holliman, Ken Howard, the royal families of Iran and Saudi Arabia, prominent Indian industrialists, and many others. Arian's work has been exhibited internationally in such cities as New York, Los Angeles, Bombay, Paris, and Viareggio Italy.