An Interview with Aaron Mizen

I use my work as a daily reminder of who I am. Where I came from and where I am going. My work is an avenue that I utilize for freedom.

Aaron is a full-time active-duty Marine who lives in the Boston area. You can view his portfolio here.

When and how did you get started painting?

I got started in painting honestly very recently. I started painting in July of 2013. I've always dabbled here and there with art, mostly charcoal drawings but something about painting called out to me.

In a few sentences, how would you describe your art?

My art is very abstract in nature. I love abstraction because it is raw and visceral. A lot of emotion can be conveyed very simply and it can be expressed freely.

What medium/materials do you use and why?

I use a variety of mediums. But mostly for my paint I use house paint. House paint is a very versatile medium to work with. Also I use a lot of charcoal in my work. But as of late I have been using plaster to give my paintings depth and texture. I also use any type of surface to paint on. The more nontraditional the better.

Why do you paint? Is there a purpose or goal to your artwork?

"All of my paintings are self portraits."

I paint for two simple reasons, one to release my emotions. The purpose or goal to my artwork is to give myself reminders as to what I was feeling, what my emotions were, to invoke memories. All of my paintings are self portraits. And the second reason is to remain sober. I am an alcoholic in recovery. I abused alcohol to the point as the where I was severely dependent on it to function on a daily basis. The alcohol, I thought, helped me deal with issues from PTSD. But honestly, being sober my life is much better and as the saying goes... No answers were ever found in the bottom of a bottle.

Where does the inspiration for your works come from?

The inspiration for my work comes from many different sources. Once I feel the inspiration to paint I just do it. I don't let life stop me from my passion. I get inspiration from the many things I find in my life. A scent of a woman's perfume, certain light from a sunset, a vision that I've had in my head. Inspiration comes when you least expect it to.

View Aaron Mizen's Portfolio

Do you have a particular method when you start a new project?

When I start a new project I usually experiment on how I want the finished project to look like, but to be honest I usually just go with the flow. There are many paintings that I've done where I've must have painted the piece at least four or five times. Each time with a completely different image. Once I am satisfied with a piece I stop working on it.

"If you have an honest passion for your work and it comes from the heart then just let your emotions free. Your work will speak for itself."

Is there a particularly good piece of advice that you have received about painting, or advice that you would give to young artists?

The best piece of advice that I have ever received and that I can give is, if you have an honest passion for your work and it comes from the heart then just let your emotions free. Your work will speak for itself and people will see it.

How is your work influenced by your time in the Marines?

My time in the Marines has greatly influenced my work. The influence comes from mainly not having that personal sense of individuality. But I can convey that I am a simple man through my work. Not an individual in a large organization.

Your Twitter profile says you are a man who "advocates the fallen, wounded, and lost." What are some ways that you do that?"

I am a person who helps the veteran who was wounded in action and in life. Helping a brother in arms who has fallen by the wayside is my true calling in life. I have on quite a few occasions helped out homeless veterans by giving them a hot meal, a bed to sleep on for a night, a chance to call a loved one. A shower. I work with a group of individuals who have severe PTSD and can barely function in society. These individuals are also recovering alcoholics and addicts. With this group of individuals there is a trust there that no one can even gain or fathom the depth of it. Most of our bonds are not formed in blood but the fact that we have all fought and are still fighting our own personal wars.

Do you have a favorite piece of artwork or artist? What do you like about that work/person?

I honestly don't have a favorite piece or artist. But my favorite I guess you can say is from the amateur artist who is just trying to convey their work. I've always been a supporter for the underdog. The individual who creates art that is truly breathtaking. The person who has no idea how to value their work if they had to sell it.

View Aaron Mizen's Portfolio