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Italian-born artist Massimo Mazzon paints portraits in his Menlo Park studio

by Linda Hubbard Gulker on November 8, 2012

Menlo Park-based artist Massimo Mazzon

Born in Italy, artist Massimo Mazzon came first to New York before moving across the country to the Bay Area. “A week after I arrived I met the woman who would become my wife at the Menlo Park Library,” he recalls. “She was reading an Italian newspaper.”

Massimo says that he lived a rather sheltered life in Italy and didn’t travel much: “Coming to a different country was quite an experience. I grew into a man, and it made me more independent.”

Growing up, he was influenced by some of the wearable art being created by his sister. “When asked ‘did you always know you wanted to paint?’, I find that most artists reply that they started at an early age, and they always knew that painting was what they wanted to do for the rest of their lives, giving the impression that they are ‘riding their muses’.

“This seems to me rather a common place — and certainly not what happened to me. In my teens I was painting but also doing a lot of other stuff like writing poetry, playing music, and climbing trees and had no knowledge that I would be a painter living in Menlo Park. So, looking back, I feel like I was at the mercy of my muses rather than in charge.”

brushes in Massimo Mazzon's Menlo Park studio

Today Massimo focuses mainly on portraiture — particularly of children — although he does do some landscapes and still lifes, a sampling which can be seen on his website. “The face, head, and hands are the most articulate part of the body,” he says. “They express so many things. Hands, in particular, show the mood of the person.”

Most of his work is commissioned, and he paints mainly from photographs. “I think it’s important to work live with a person,” he says. “That would be my preference but it’s not practical. Sometimes I go to a person’s home and do a quick study and take photos — and then return to my studio to do the full portrait.”

Slow to come to painting, Massimo finds himself still evolving, influenced by past and present artists. “You stumble upon a good artist, and you orbit around them for awhile,” he says. “Then you move on to the next one. It’s a big voyage — it’s endless, it’s beautiful.”

Menlo Park studio of Massimo Mazzon

Photos by Scott R. Kline

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