From 1994 -1999 I was the accessibility officer for the Stare of Maryland. It was my job to make sure businesses and multi-family dwellings complied
with the Maryland Accessibility Code. I became very disillusioned when I
was promised a chance to interview for a position that to my surprise, was
already filled. This was a major turning point in my life. Painting became
more than a hobby, it was my lifeline to work through a multitude of
emotions. From the very beginning people responded with positive energy to
my creations. I decided to take a 3-month sabbatical in June 1999 to see
what it was like to live the life of an artist. When I returned in September
and requested to work at home 2 days a week, I was handed forms to seek
counseling from a mental heath professional. I knew then, that it was
impossible for me to balance my passion as an artist and report to work,
so I decided to quit. Naturally everyone thought I was crazy but I knew
that art was my destiny! I celebrated my newfound freedom by taking a
trip to South Africa. My objective was to absorb the culture and make contact
with the local artists. What I found instead was the mother load of
individual creativity. I saw more unique art in one month than I had in
my entire life.
The experience opened a geyser of creativity. I call my art form
ďEssence ArtĒ. It comes from the purist part of me.  Itís the only part of
my life that there is no compromise or negotiation.  From this zone is where
I capture the essence of my subject matter through the use of form and color.
I think people can feel if what an artist creates is real or contrived.  I
relish in the thought of how to utilized unique color combinations by
ignoring color theory and studying the wonder of colors in nature.  If nature
uses colors indiscriminately, why canít I? Sometimes my art just wonít go
with someoneís sofa!
The journey of a true artist is one of complete ecstasy or the bottomless
pit to nowhere.  I wouldnít want to trade it for anything else in this world.
It gives me the unique opportunity to look at the world from the inside out
and transform my perception to something tangible. Enclosed are two poems, I believe,
encompasses the pure prospective of each emotion.
The Soul Of An Artist--
"When I paint I feel the power of the Creator flowing through my body, focusing the energy to my hand.
The wonders of nature, a babyís smile, the sweet contours of a woman are but a few images I carry in my mind.
I thank the Creator for this gift. For letting me free fall into the missing pieces of my life and fill them with the wonder of colors and feelings.
My emotions run rampant as part of me is poured into every canvas I touch. The drama of life is played out so vividly during the painting process.
The joy of mixing the colors and applying them with buttery ease. The demand from my visions to be a better artist and human being. The pain of working through an image until it takes form.
The surprise of the completed work, knowing that it is much more than what I imagined. I stand back absorbing the finished fruit. Trying to hear what my sub-conscience is whispering.
I have no choice but to paint what is true in my heart. Like a dream, the truth is not in the image but what it symbolizes."
The Art Festival Blues--
Crowds pass by like a surreal nightmare...
I smile and greet the few with a hairline crack in my armor...
The oxygen of creativity is being extinguished by the mutation of oneness...
Dictated by people with means...
Donít go forward! Art must conform to the masses...
Although they only know what they donít want...
Seconds click by like a month in eternity...
While I stifle another contradiction in my head...
Desperation seems satisfied in a dimension of nothingness...
Paralyzed in the inertia of strange faces....
About The Artist: Born and raised in Baltimore, this self taught artist favors fruits, nudes, flowers, his cat "Duke Ellington", portraits and anything else that sits still long enough for him to put on canvas. A father and grandpop, Mark has many life moments to draw from for the creation of his art.
His experience as a stand-up comedian and poet are evident in the subject
matter selected.  "Fantasy and humor are the perspective in which I
approach most subjects", Mark says, "thatís why I select rich, vibrant and jovial colors then combine them in a very tasteful and unusual way. I want people to feel delicious after experiencing my work." Working as the Architectural Engineer for the Maryland Mainstreet Program from 1986 to 1994, provided plenty of opportunities to hone his talent. Two years of this tenure was spent in Computer Aided Design. "I found computer artistry unfulfilling."
Mark says.  "Itís like eating food with a fork instead of using my
fingers.  After the program ended in 1994 there was this deep void in
my life. I had no venue for expressing my artistic talent.  So, I
decided to paint for pleasure, starting with what I was accustomed to,
markers and pencils, eventually experimenting with other mediums.  For
now, I feel very comfortable with acrylics, watercolors and oil pastels."
Mark K Cottman
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Please Visit Mark's Website www.art-4u.com