I have been living in Taipei, Taiwan, for a little over two years. It has become my home, so much so that every time I go back to Argentina to visit my family, I feel a certain longing for my life in Taipei.
I don’t really have much money to buy art materials, and I don’t have an actual studio at home. It’s just a corner of my living room, which gives you the feeling of being in a studio. There’s a table, a tall bookshelf where I put paint, brushes, and other supplies, and a French easel. That’s about it. The greatest thing about it is this huge window in front of the mountains. It’s a source of inspiration and also a great companion. On the table I put seashells to remind me of the sea. (I was born in front of the sea and my name is Marina, though everybody calls me Pipi.) No matter where I go, if the sea isn’t there, I find a way of taking it with me.
I don’t paint long hours because I have to work as a writer. Sometimes, when I have free time or a whole day to do whatever I want, I set up everything and get started in the morning or by noon and continue until late at night, when my husband comes home. I can spend many hours without eating or drinking, just focused on what I’m doing. That’s usually the case when you love something so much, I guess.
The only artist nearby is my musician husband. Usually I get to paint with his great music in the background. I don’t know many artists in Taipei, and anyway, I like painting alone without distractions. I never use headphones while I’m working as I prefer to connect with everything that happens around me in a natural way—to the painting itself and with anything that happens around it: tiny sounds; big, invasive sounds; unexpected movements of things; the sun on a piece of furniture; a bird looking at me through the window; a phone ringing in the distance; a yelling man selling eggs or vegetables or glass; a woman laughing or crying. I tend toward a holistic view of things: I feel everything is connected and it’s part of the same thing. That’s why I like being in the moment.
Near my apartment in Taipei in the mountains there is a small beautiful garden where I go to drink maté, a hot herbal South American drink pretty much like our own tea. In Argentina, everybody drinks from the same cup using a straw. It is passed around so that everybody can drink from it. It’s more than a drink, really, it’s a kind of ritual used to share moments with others. So I go to this garden with my maté and my easel and my art materials. I paint there sometimes when the weather behaves, which is rare in winter. I paint what I see or something else. I feel that’s my real studio although I don’t get to use it much. It’s all green—my favorite color—with lots of plants and an incredible view. It has a table and some stools made of rock, very Chinese. I feel it’s my own little world up there.
In Taipei I adore going to the National Palace Museum. It has many Chinese antiques and relics and beautiful Eastern art, mixed with a little bit of Western art. It is often home to traveling exhibitions from the East and the West. Apart from this, it’s surrounded by nature, which for me is fundamental!
When visiting Argentina, the country of my birth, I paint in a small corner of my mother’s bedroom. I use a big easel that belonged to my sister, who paints beautifully. It’s situated next to a bookshelf full of books that remind me of my past growing up in that neighborhood. Who knows, this may influence my paintings.
In Argentina there is this beautiful spot in my neighborhood where art is everywhere. It is a place full of trees and flowers and plants. It’s like a small story inside a bigger one. I like going there, closing my eyes and being carried away by images, any images that later on could become something else.
It’s all green—my favorite color—with lots of plants and an incredible view.
I go to this garden with my maté and my easel and my art materials. I paint there sometimes when the weather behaves.
My mini studio in Argentina