April 18, 2022 0 comments
By Peter Richardson
Orangeville resident Mark Grice takes a somewhat different approach to his art than most artists. For Mark, it’s a business, not his passion. As a result, he has set himself the goal of producing two finished paintings a week, a task he plans to continue until his retirement.
Maybe he will raise his prices and paint less, but according to him he can produce two paintings a week and live well into his retirement years.
He values his paintings by the number of hours it takes him to produce them, at $250 an hour. He also has what he considers a maximum that people will pay, and so his largest painting sells for only $2,000 at the rate people seek out his art, Mark could probably produce 4 or 5 a week and still not enough.
His secret, he says, lies in his networking skills.
Mark has developed a large network of people who know his name, his work and most importantly, how to reach him. He achieved this after years of dating. He has a TV series on Rogers Television, Mark Grice the Artist, where he completes a painting in an hour, he’s on Facebook, and he’s been teaching classes, until COVID. Something he says he plans to do again.
Mark was born in Mississauga, when the city was predominantly rural. He had horses and cows as pets. His grandfathers had horses and although none of his siblings seemed interested in them, Mark was captivated and began his lifelong passion for horses.
He also says that he has always been an artist, from the age of six he was drawing. He went to Sheridan College for art and began a career as a commercial artist. he was self-employed in the advertising industry and had horses on his farm.
Mark started training and breeding horses and gave up the art for a while, knowing he could always come back to it. Mark sold his farm 13 years ago and, indeed, returned to his art.
When he first opened a studio/gallery in Alton Mill, he was on the second floor at one end, then moved to the other end before ending up in his current studio in the basement. Recently, he opened a gallery on the second floor, again. The basement studio was big enough for Mark to teach.
There have been up to 27 students at a time, several times a week. He also held corporate events and built his base, until COVID shut down everything.
Fortunately, at that time Mark had a good network and painted and sold throughout the pandemic.
During his busy horse training years, Mark showed Quarter Horses at world championship level. He also judged horse shows and still rides hunter riders today. He was president of the Ontario Quarter Horse Association twice.
Mark has trained horses that have been shown across Canada and the United States and he has now added the ad to his resume, becoming the voice of many horse shows. He will do some 70 hunter rider shows at Palgrave this year alone, as well as 15 Quarter Horse shows.
Mark has one horse now and expects to have two more this year.
As a member of the Hunt Club he rides regularly and two years ago he wrecked quite a bit. He fell from his mount after a jump and suffered three fractures, including that of the pelvis. Two months later, he was riding in Florida, to the amazement of many. Marks responds, that’s what he does, it’s as simple as that.
Mark is hoping to have another farm this year and says he will treat it as a hobby but now he has a Hanoverian who is going to be a big horse and he also wants to have another quarter horse so need to work out how much too of hobby farm it will be.
Another endeavor Mark has explored is taking action. He’s been in various commercials and did a series last year. He performed on stage but has currently told his agent to put him on hold until things get back to some semblance of normal.
Mark paints exclusively with acrylic paints and he actually uses dollar store brushes! he says his art store owner friends are horrified.
Mark paints in almost every style, from abstract to very realistic horses and other animals as well as landscapes.
One of its distinguishing features is the exotic texture of the backgrounds in its abstracts. He creates them with shower squeegees or kitchen spatulas, rather than palette knives and they make his paintings stand out from the crowd.
The animal and horse paintings are all started with incredibly realistic eyes. The eyes are the first thing that catches your eye in the painting, you could almost swear they are real eyes.
From there, Mark chooses the unique color schemes that make his abstracts so unique, or continues to paint in a more realistic approach. The end results are more than eye-catching and sell out fast.
One of his styles looks so real you’d think it was a black and white photograph. He works from photographs that he holds in one hand while he paints. Mark uses a sheet of paper for his palette and mixes his colors on it. he lays down all his colors and paints and mixes as he works.
In the theme of painting as a business, Mark will repaint a work to suit a buyer.
He said that if someone likes one of his paintings but is worried that their living room has green accents and there are no greens in the landscape painting, he would ask where they would like to see the greens and he would come down to the studio and paint them. in.
When asked how he used acrylic and not oil, Mark answered the drying time and the different technique.
He said acrylics dry in minutes compared to days or even weeks for oil. Acrylic is just an extension of his hand. he has no interest in oil painting, although he did one when he was around 15.
Charcoals hold a certain fascination, but he feels he hasn’t done enough to collect this art form, so isn’t doing them at the moment.
Mark works a little with pastel pencil and he draws his shapes on his canvases before painting them. This gives him insight into the shapes he works with.
Mark buys his ready-made paintings from Michaels. He does not stretch his.
“Why would I?” said Mark. “It’s my business and my time is better spent painting than playing with the canvas.”
Look at the Group of Seven, he said. They toiled over whatever they found – old pieces of plywood or practical boards. They didn’t care about the materials, only the resulting art.
Many of its sales come from Facebook. He finishes a job, uses his phone to take a photo, maybe adjusts the exposure slightly, then posts it to his page. Sales inquiries follow soon.
All in all, Mark Grice has led a life filled with interests as an artist, businessman, actor, champion rider, and interesting man. He is a living example of someone who saw where he wanted to go and who he wanted to be and got there, in style. Perhaps, the perfect subject for a book or an autobiography, with a touch of fiction for the mystery.