Off The Wall Magazine Q&A with MJ Benson



Maine.  When I was young, my family would spend New Year’s Eve and Labor Day near Schoodic Point. Though I lived near the ocean in Massachusetts, the light, the feel, and the raw softness in the air constantly drew me back to Maine. 


Inspiration.  My work is very personal: an intellectual and spiritual meditation that keeps me growing. I'm influenced by the greater forces of politics and environment, but have always been drawn to the interior, personal response. 


Medium.  I'm primarily an acrylic painter. I also use oil paints and watercolor.


Artist Hero.  My mother went to school for fine art and became a commercial interior designer. My father was an inventor and product designer who was constantly sketching and building. They were my art mentors.


Studio.  I have two studio spaces: one in my home, where I produce the majority of my work, and another at a space over my neighbor’s garage where I do larger paintings. 


Where in Maine.  In 2006, my husband and I moved our family to Willard Beach in South Portland. Now, as I walk the beach after a long morning run, I marvel at how lucky I am to live in a place where I can walk to the ocean, take a short boat ride to islands, a quick car ride to some of the best food in the country, have a choice of great schools for my children, and be surrounded by incredibly talented and successful people who are unpretentious and welcoming. 


Fun Fact.  I got kicked out of high school, but have a graduate degree from Harvard University. I've run a marathon, done multiple triathlons, ridden my bicycle from Oklahoma City to San Diego, climbed several fourteeners—Colorado mountain peaks that exceed 14,000 feet—and I’m an expert marksman. 


Education.  I studied photography at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, earning a bachelor of fine arts degree through Tufts University. I learned how to paint through the continuing education program at the Maine College of Art, and spent two sessions at the Open Door program at the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts.




Learn more about this artist:


Available artwork


Radio Maine podcast interview


Art Matters blog article

Off The Wall magazine Q&A


Micro-documentary film