"Inspiring Artist!" Marilyn Bass

Meet Artist Marilyn Bass…

Please introduce yourself and your art a little bit.

From early childhood before I understood the meaning of the word artist, I knew I would be one. As a child I “ruined” every book by coloring all the black and white illustrations. I never could stay in the lines. One birthday a neighbor gave me a large wooden box with pastels. Holding this box very carefully, I traveled alone on several trolley cars to the Graphic Sketch Club in South Philly for the Saturday morning classes where many artists had their start. Later, I enrolled in Saturday classes at the Moore Institute of Art and painted in oils. These experiences further convinced me where my future lay. After high school I had various jobs, all the while trying to convince my parents I belonged in art school. My big brother solved my problem by telling my parents “It’s in her blood”.

I enrolled in what is now the University of the Arts. Then it was the Philadelphia Museum School of Art, referred to as the Museum School. It was an impressive building in the Greek style, with Ionic columns fronted by long broad steps. I graduated in 1954 and was awarded a prize in advertising design.

Where can people find you and your work?

You can google Marilyn Bass, or go to http://www.botanicalartists.com/MarilynBass/index.htm or e-mail me at www.marilabass@bellsouth.net and setup an appointment to see my work

MY NEXT SOLO SHOW: The Senior Center of Cary, 120 Maury Odell Place, Bond Park Cary NC27512 Oct 18 – Nov 12 Reception Oct 29 from 5pm to 8pm


Whole Foods
Herb Young Community Center
The Page Walker Art and History Museum 2nd floor
NC Botanical Garden in Chapel Hill
The Cotton Club in Wake Forest
The Chatham Hill Winery
The Page Walker Art and History Museum Main Gallery
The Chatham Hill Winery
Duke Hospital in Durham
As a member of the Fine Arts League of Cary I have exhibited in various group venues

Finish this thought: For me art is…

Very seamlessly my life.

What do you enjoy most about being an artist?

Looking at the last completed picture and deciding Yes! This is the best one!

What has been your process of getting to where you are in your artistic career?

For many years I worked as an illustrator and graphic designer for Fortune 500 companies and publishers. Together with my husband, Marvin Goldman, (who was a photographer and graphic designer) we wrote and illustrated five books for children which were adopted as part of reading programs in schools across the country, One of these was “Growing Wild”, a wildflower identification book.

We retired to Cary,NC, thirteen years ago. Five years ago I became a certified Master Gardener and as part of that program I made a presentation on Clematis vines, cutting the blossoms and leaves out of paper and then enhancing the art with colored pencils. It was an “aha” moment for me and I have been perfecting this technique ever since. After fifty years of marriage, my husband passed away, leaving me to live alone and work alone without his critical eye and comments.

Can you tell us about your process?

I’m a lifetime gardener, Master Gardener who loves to work in the dirt, loves the color and fragrance in the garden – and delights in looking closely at the form and structure of flowers in the garden,in the fields, in the woodland and in weedy roadside patches. For years I traveled with a bucket and shovel in the back of my car.

In order to start a picture I need to look for something that speaks to me. Sometimes I get a complete visualization of what I’m going to do. But not always. Sometimes I work on bits and am totally surprised when I just love the end result. I work from live plants. That can present difficulties, maybe there is only one blossom and it will certainly expire before I finish. What to do? Work fast! (But I don’t work fast).

I make a line drawing from life on tissue and generally cut my papers free hand. I enhance each cut piece with colored pencils, then proceed to assemble my art work. Yet people refer to my pictures as
paintings! Everyone always asks what kind of glue I use….Elmer’s Glue. I consider the placement, the design of the picture very important. When I’m finished I put it up on the mantelpiece for several days and look to see if any changes or additions need to be made. Then I write the title in (that is identify the flower) sign it, photograph it. Then it is matted and framed and looked upon with great pleasure ..did I really do that! That’s my process.

Who has inspired you?

Any art that speaks to me is inspiration. I like illustrations in old horticulture books and old seed catalogs. I like Miro, Matisse, artists who work with color. I like Utagawa Hiroshige for his careful color and design plan. I like Chagall for the force of emotion in his bible. I like Georgia O’Keefe. I also like Native American art for their use of space and color in paintings, pottery and ornaments. I like many primitives.

What’s the next step in your artistic career?

Well I think I’ll just continue this for ever more (or just as long as the last one is the best).

What a wonderful reply! Thank you for sharing your artistic beauty with us.

“Inspiring Artists!” will be an ongoing series. It will run as long as there are inspiring artists out there wanting to share their stories. If you are an artist and would like to participate please contact me at jhutchins@joyfulartsstudio.com. I would love to hear from you!!


  1. Susan LaMantia
    September 20, 2010


    I loved reading what you had to say about your artwork and its process. Truly, your work is different from anyone else making botanical art, placing it in a category all its own. The first time I saw your work at an exhibit at the Cary Town Hall, I thought your work was real flowers, plants, etc under glass; your work is so flawlessly executed! Charlie and I are thrilled with the piece of yours, “Flying Dragon” that hangs in our living room.

    -Susan LaMantia

  2. Jessica Smith
    September 20, 2010

    What a treat to read. We enjoy watching your work evolve!

  3. Natasha Goldman
    September 20, 2010

    … and Growing Wild continues to please, 5-yr old Tobias loves it!
    Onward to the next “best” work!

  4. Zoe Smith
    September 20, 2010

    I love it it all sound great! each day I wake up to the fabulous pictures my walls ( made by you).

  5. Beth Voystock
    September 20, 2010


  6. Sandy Oakes
    September 21, 2010

    It is hard to think that you could compose any piece more lovely
    than “Columnar flowering dogwood” which gives us so much pleasure, but I hope you continue to enjoy the process. We look forward to seeing more of your creations.

  7. Mary
    September 22, 2010

    these are so beautiful. thanks for sharing Marylin and her amazing work with us.

  8. rose firestone
    September 24, 2010

    amazing talent….just amazing….i am in awe

  9. s&h k.
    September 25, 2010


  10. s&h k.
    September 26, 2010

    With her Botanical Art, Marilyn Bass can magically intensify the pure pleasure found in every leaf, petal, and stem that Nature has fashioned. Bravo, Marilyn! Harriet & Seymour Koenig, NY

  11. Nayda Colomb
    September 26, 2010

    Your work is so artfully created and botanically presented. I have favorites, though they keep changing as you create one lovely piece after another! Keep up the delightful work!


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