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The Art of Concentration: Interview With Artist Meri Valenti

Sep 27, 2023 by Vreny Blanco · 9 min read · Interviews

Painting of a woman next to a picture of Meri
Image with permission from Maria Rosaria Valenti

Welcome to a special edition of our Ask the Expert article series on the 1Focus Blog. It is my pleasure to introduce you to my favorite artist: Maria Rosaria “Meri” Valenti.

She is a brilliant engineer and an exceptional artist whose paintings are truly captivating. I was enchanted by her artwork the first time I saw it, and I have since decorated my house with her beautiful pieces. I am confident that once you get to know her, you will love her, too!

Meri’s story is a fascinating blend of engineering precision and artistic brilliance that will leave you captivated. She has achieved a perfect fusion of technical expertise and a passionate, creative spirit, which is reflected in her art.

In this exclusive interview, we will delve into Meri’s artistic process, uncover the driving forces behind her work, and gain insights into how she harnesses unwavering focus. From her choice of unconventional materials to her mission to stir emotions through art, Meri’s story is a testament to the infinite possibilities that emerge when passion meets profession.

Get ready to be inspired!

Tell Us Something About Yourself

My name is Maria Rosaria Valenti. I was born in Calabria in Vibo Valentia, Italy, where I attended a scientific high school. I moved to Cosenza, where I earned a degree in Civil Engineering and a second-level master’s degree in Environmental Management.

From a very young age, my immeasurable passion for art has accompanied my scientific studies, which is why, parallel to my experience in technical engineering studies and teaching in public and private schools, I pursued my true passion: art.

I found my artistic uniqueness in a mixed technique of acrylic on wood and stone, creating textured and three-dimensional paintings, also known as “colored bas-reliefs”. The modest success I achieved at the regional level motivated me to invest more and further my training in this direction, leading to the birth of “L’arte di Meri”.

I have exhibited in solo and group exhibitions in various parts of Italy, including Arezzo, Rome, Milan, Rimini, Venice, and Pescara. I am present in my native Calabria, in Tropea, with a permanent exhibition that allows me to be known and appreciated even by an international audience.

Could you describe your typical creative process?

Each of my paintings begins with an idea that persistently presents itself in my mind. The idea often comes from something that happened in everyday life, a landscape I saw in a photo or visited, a sad or happy moment, or my mood. In my paintings, I express my fears, joys, emotions, dreams, my passion for traveling, and my immense love for family and nature.

I usually make a rough sketch in pen or pencil on the first piece of paper I find and then begin the process of finding the stones that will best bring my idea to life. The selected stones are carefully arranged on a rough wooden board. When I am satisfied with the arrangement, I take a photograph to memorize the positioning of the stones and analyze it from a different perspective.

Then, I proceed to treat the wooden board and paint the background. The painting of the individual stones is done separately in another workspace. Finally, the stones are assembled on the treated board, and refinements are made with acrylic paint.

Meri working
Image with permission from Maria Rosaria Valenti

How do you manage to maintain focus?

I share a room with my husband when he works from home. I stay focused because painting allows me to dream and enter another reality, sometimes even losing track of time. Art is a true refuge for me because I feel good when I engage in this activity, and I never want it to end.

Is there anything in particular that helps you get into the flow state?

Radio background music with daily news (RTL 102.5).

What do you do to enhance your creativity?

I need silence and solitude; not even background music helps me during moments of ideation.

Have you ever experienced creative blocks?

I rarely experience creative blocks. Sometimes, I have so many ideas that they disrupt my sleep :) And I think I don’t have enough time to realize them all in the timeframe I’d like.

Writer’s Note: One of the most fascinating aspects of Meri is her ability to take an idea presented to her and turn it into something extraordinary. For example, I wanted to make a unique gift to an exceptional couple who holds a special place in my heart. Since they mean so much to me, I wanted something genuinely spectacular. So I asked Meri for help and gave her an AI-generated image of them with their dog. The end result was a true masterpiece and exceeded all my expectations! Below, you can admire the beautiful painting of (from left to right) Peter, Margret, and Rudi.

Meri’s ability to bring an idea to life is truly remarkable!

Peter, Margret and Rudi
Image with permission from Maria Rosaria Valenti

How do you manage your time?

I work better in the morning when my two children are at school. In the afternoon, when I help them with their homework, I mainly focus on organizational, preparatory, or refinement activities.

How do you overcome the lack of motivation?

I experience a lack of motivation when working on paintings I have already developed multiple times in the past, which can lead to boredom. In these moments, I remind myself that another one of my works will be present in a new home, which will give me new visibility and income.

How do you overcome challenges and distractions?

My main challenges are related to creating new paintings and working on large-sized boards. Another significant challenge is finding free locations to hold exhibitions in different places that appreciate the uniqueness of my art. Finding paid locations is not difficult. In such cases, we always try to combine business with pleasure: we take a family trip, and, at the same time, I display my paintings (after appropriately organizing everything).

The distractions that I encounter are related to family news, whether happy or sad, and phone calls at inconvenient times—situations that could divert me from the excitement of dreaming and feeling like a child with my paintings. That’s why I sometimes put my smartphone away.

Meri with painting of dancing couple
Image with permission from Maria Rosaria Valenti

Are there any artists who have influenced your work?

I am mainly inspired by artists who have used vivid colors: van Gogh, Matisse, Klimt, Kandinsky, Chagall, and Frida Kahlo.

How do you balance work and family life?

Since I don’t have a set schedule, I have to limit and postpone my creative moments for when I’m home alone.

What do you think is the key to success?

Tough question: I definitely try to let my passion show in my work.

For me, it’s a success every time someone shows interest and asks for information about one of my paintings. Then, when I see people spending hours looking at my paintings and even getting emotional, I realize that I’m doing something important for myself and for the viewers of my work.

My art also reaches children, who are often drawn in by the three-dimensional paintings, beloved subjects, and vibrant colors, encouraging their parents to enter the gallery and visit the exhibition.

My goal is to reach ordinary people and evoke emotions in them. The downside is that to reach a more affluent, wider audience on a large scale, art requires significant investments: catalogs, expert reviews, and collective exhibitions in well-known places.

Meri and paints
Image with permission from Maria Rosaria Valenti

Do you have any advice for the readers?

We live in a fast-paced world, and many people don’t take the time to visit exhibitions due to a lack of time, even when they are on vacation.

I would suggest pausing to reflect on the importance of time. Give the right amount of time to what matters to you: family, friends, a passion, a hobby… In my case, my passion has become a release valve that allows me to escape from the real world and find mental balance.

Do you have any advice for aspiring artists?

Passion stimulates ideas and thoughts. In art, technique is fundamental, but it is mainly understood by experts in the field. I believe that with the general public, emotions are what resonate, and the same painting may arouse different emotions in different clients.

Where can I contact you, or buy some of your beautiful artwork?

You can contact me through my social media profiles:

You can also contact me via email lartedimeri@gmail.com. For a more comprehensive view of my work, visit my website lartedimeri.com.

Meri with a painting of a tree
Image with permission from Maria Rosaria Valenti

Tips to Remember

Embrace Your Passions

Discover the magic of blending your passions with your profession, and transform your daily life into a fulfilling journey.

Find Beauty in the Everyday

Keep your senses attuned to the beauty within everyday experiences; you never know when it might ignite your next masterpiece.

Focus With Purpose

When working on your projects, eliminate distractions and let your unwavering passion drive your efforts. Use an app and website blocker like 1Focus to eliminate distractions.

Embrace the Unconventional

Follow Meri’s footsteps and dare to experiment with unconventional methods and techniques. Stepping out of your comfort zone can lead to unique and impactful creations.

Evoke Emotions

Embrace your uniqueness, and create work that moves people through your personality, enthusiasm, and technique.

Meri with painting of Virgin Mary and Joseph, baby Jesus
Image with permission from Maria Rosaria Valenti

Express Your Unique Voice

Discover your distinct voice and style, and fearlessly let your true self shine through your creations.

Create a Unique Workspace

Customize your workspace to your individual needs for optimal concentration. Having your own workspace can do wonders for your focus.

Overcome Creative Blocks

Remember that creative blocks happen to everyone. When facing a block, take a step back, breathe, and give yourself time. Your next wave of inspiration may be right around the corner.

Seek Inspiration

Draw inspiration from other experts who resonate with you. Learn from their techniques, choices, and creative approaches to enrich your own journey.

Find a Work-Life Balance

Striking a balance between work and personal life is crucial. Set boundaries that allow you to fully engage with your passions and family life without feeling overwhelmed. Finding this equilibrium is key to a fulfilling life.

Meri with a large vertical painting of a tree
Image with permission from Maria Rosaria Valenti

Acknowledgments

We extend our sincerest gratitude to Maria Rosaria Valenti for opening the door to her creative world and sharing her artistic journey with us.

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