Preserving the natural world

By Shea Stanfield

Arizona resident naturalist, conservationist and author, Edward Abbey wrote, “It is not enough to understand the natural world, the point is to defend and preserve it.”  This is a concept local artist Marless Fellows knows all too well. Her creative passion continues to run along the deep roots of western contemporary/southwest painting.  Many of her first subjects were the Salt River Wild Horses, and over the years Fellows has grown her commitment to The Salt River Wild Horse Management Group by donating a portion of all her sales to help with the health, welfare and management efforts of the herd.

During her younger years, Fellows’ father was in the Navy. This required the family to move a number of times when she was a child. But there was something about the shadows of the mesas, brilliant sunsets and serenity of the desert’s flora and fauna that called her back to Arizona. As Fellows remembers her childhood experiences, she credits her father for being the first person to influence her in art. 

“He would draw little cartoon elephants and other figures for my sisters and me, so I picked it up for fun,” Fellows said.

She didn’t think of pursuing an art career until her thirties, when her husband’s grandfather came to stay with them. As she recollects, “He was an amateur artist and enjoyed “creating” as a hobby. He encouraged me to expand my drawing into painting, and the rest is history, as they say,” she said.

Fellows enrolled in drawing classes at Mesa Community College (MCC) to develop a foundation in art. She acquired an interest in life drawing and six semesters later her human anatomy expertise formed a firm background for her exquisitely detailed human portraits based in western “cowboy” culture.

Following MCC, Fellows attended Scottsdale Artist School where she continued her education in drawing and painting with master artists from all over the United States. 

“I began at the beginning and followed through until I completed the most advanced courses,” Fellows said.

Adding to her expanding experience and education, Fellows loves visiting museums and galleries where she picks up composition, painting styles and ideas from both past and present artists. Fellows continues to attend workshops and Master classes where she constantly updates her techniques, resulting in an evolving body of quality work for her growing client base.

The search for western wildlife – subjects for her meticulously rendered portraits – is one of Fellows’ great joys.  She and her husband, a native of Montana, spend many of their summers traveling through Yellowstone National Park, the Tetons and other wildlife preservation areas in search of moose, bear, buffalo, elk and any number of other natural inhabitants in an effort to capture their images for future painting subjects. Fellows is a member of the Sonoran Arts League (SAL) and exhibits throughout the year with the group. Fellows is celebrating her tenth year participating in the AZ Fine Art Expo which runs through March 22. The expo is located in the tents on the southwest corner of north Scottsdale Road and Jomax. It is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Information on garden parties, presentations and artists exhibiting at the Expo visit, www.arizonafineartexpo.com.   To view an extended collection of Fellows’ work or to contact her, visit www.artbymarless.com.

For more information on exhibit schedules, visit www.sonoranartsleague.org.

Contact Arts Columnist Shea Stanfield at flowingquill@yahoo.com.