Studio Visit Interview with Artist Spotlight: Marianela de la Hoz

Marianela de la Hoz is a visual artist who is currently residing in San Diego, Ca. She paints miniatures using the ancient technique of Egg Tempera with a contemporary look. Her works are exceptionally detailed and fine. My visit with Marianela in her lovely humble home studio, hidden in the quiet mountains of Vista, away from the busyness of the city, left a big impression on me. Seeing her work and how she speaks of her personal history reveals how universal we all can relate to each other in life experiences.

Rae: So let’s begin our journey into Marianela’s world.


Rae: I recently saw your art series, Heaven and Earth, the Determined Freedom of an Undetermined Life, at the San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park. I felt a deep emotion while looking at it. What was that series all about and what inspired you to start it?

Picture 3

Marianela: The universal themes that every human being has a good and dark side. I also was commenting on the status of women in society. It took me a year to work on that series, Heaven and Earth, the Determined Freedom of an Undetermined Life which consists of an altarpiece with 11 individual paintings. This story is re-done, a modern Eve, portrayed in the upper region of the central painting, wears an apple on her chest as a type of Scarlet Letter and eats apple pie. The symbolism of the apple has two meanings: rebirth & hope, and the darker symbolism of sin & fall of humankind.

This impressive altarpiece is inspired in part by the Museum’s painting, Madonna and Child, ca.1468 by Carlo Crivelli, which is on view across from the altarpiece. Crivelli piece is the Virgin Mary with baby Jesus and de la Hoz summons the role of religion and questions its effect on motherhood and destiny.

 Personally, I feel closer to Eve because of our imperfections; the Virgin Mary is too perfect and pure for me to attempt to recreate her image.

With these two works together, de la Hoz creates a dialogue between two related but different women, the Virgin Mary and Eve.

Rae: Describe the process within yourself when creating new pieces. Do you have a ritual that you start with?

Marianela: When you are an artist, you are one 24 hours a day. Every morning I wake up at 5am and sweep the floors. It is there while sweeping the floors, I meditate about the projects I want to create. Around 9am, I start painting. I paint about 10 hours a day, 7 days a week, for 1 year.



Rae:  I read at the museum that when you were young you went to Catholic School. Do you think Catholic school has influenced your work a lot with the subjects you choose to paint?

Marianela: Of Course. For the school that I went to was a nun school, all women. Most were sinful and guilty. I suffered so much, that I thought I couldn’t go on living. I went into therapy for 10 years. Within 5 years after therapy, I tried painting as a daily job and it changed my life. It was cathartic.

No regrets though about going to catholic school now. I am this person today because I lived those moments.

Rae: What made you decide to make art a full-time job?

Marianela: When i had my second child, it made me realize that I wanted to fulfill more of a purpose. I learned from my children. They are my teachers.

Rae: Do you predetermine meaning or does it arrive later in your work?

Marianela: Everything is predetermined. I have an idea. I develop it. I start with sketches. And then put it into my vision. I know from the beginning what will end up in the end.

Rae: Have you lived in other cities? What keeps you staying in San Diego making art?

Marianela: I was born in Mexico City and have been living in San Diego for 10 years now. It doesn’t matter where I live. I will make art anywhere because it is a necessity.

Rae: Any upcoming new projects in progress?

Marianela: Yes I have a showing of drawings and paintings at Noel Baza in december continuing on the same themes I had talked about earlier.


Comer tanto odio me hizo daño / Eating so much hatred made me sick
silver and gold point & graphite on paper
6.5 x 4.9 inches


Se me enfrio hasta el café / Even My Coffee Went Cold 2009
silver point, ink and graphite on paper 5.7 x 4.5 inches


Digame que no entiene aun sobre su estado? /Tell me what you don’t understand yet about your condition
egg tempera on board

Rae: What do you think about collaborations with other artists?

Marianela: I’ve done it before but it’s not my thing. To me, my art practice is a very private process.

Rae: Any advice you have to give other artists out there?

Marianela: Keep doing what it is you love. You have to not care whatever people say.

To be an artist, there needs to be a balance. You have to be a well-rounded artist with a world of your own, good skills, and something personal to say.

Rae: What do you like most about making art?

Marianela: It’s natural for me. Art is my first language. It is cathartic, it helps me understand the outer and inner world of mines. It is vital.


En el Laboratorio/ In the Laboratory 2010

Rae: Any music that inspires you right now if any?

Marianela: I love to listen to many types of music. I was just listening to opera the other day. I like good music and the non-commercial type. Music is very important and is essential in ones life.

Rae: What has been your most exciting moment as an artist?

Marianela: That is difficult to answer. But now thinking of it, there’s not one moment. It comes everytime I have an idea that comes with a meaning behind it. That is the perfect moment when everything comes together. That’s my best time.

Rae: How has your practice changed over time?

Marianela: I learned from my mistakes. I became better. I am 56 years old now. I’ve been maturing as a person and as an artist. I don’t ask anything from anyone anymore. I am an obsessive person though, so I always try to do my best.

Rae: Any books that inspire you?

Marianela: I read all the time. My grandfather taught me how to read. I read Charles Perrault, Brothers Grimm, and Andersen fairy tales. When I read, I translate the stories into drawings in my own way. I also like reading Dostoyevsky.


Rae: Finally, any amazing galleries here in San Diego that you love and always inspired to check out?

Marianela: Noel-Baza because they are honest people in the gallery world.

Rae: It’s a wrap. Thank you for inviting me to your lovely home, Marianela.

Marianela: My Pleasure, thank you.

You can see more of Marianela’s artwork on her site:

Email Marianela:

She has an upcoming show in San Diego at Noel-Baza Gallery, Kettner Nights Dec 14, 2012.

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