Maria Teicher | Philadelphia Portrait Artist
"In a world where social media sculpts our lives into looking perfect to those we are distant from to know the difference... I'm going to be honest. I'm preparing myself to be painfully honest." - Maria Teicher
I remember receiving an email from a potential bride a few years ago, February of 2013 to be exact, asking and explaining that she was an artist as well as a wedding photographer, still in graduate school but looking for a photographer for her wedding. I knew her name sounded familiar as I often find myself online searching for new sources of inspiration outside of photography when I came across Maria's insanely beautiful paintings and started following her. I was heart broken to send a referral email since we found ourselves traveling to Ireland over the day of her wedding, but hoped in the back of my mind that we'd be able to connect because again, she's incredibly talented and a true source of inspiration to me.
We exchanged emails here and there, both of our schedules filled up quickly and finding the time to finally meet face to face was a challenge but we kept in touch. I, of course, kept an eye on her work, admiring her skill with a brush to capture the amazing likeness of her subjects while intertwining personal meaning and vision. Always looking for a reason to meet her in person.
Fast forward two years later, it's hard to believe it took that long, when I put out a search for local artists to capture in their studios, their personal space, creating what fills their heart and soul with purpose. Once again we connected and this time, set up a time to finally meet face to face as well as a time to allow me into not only her studio but her home to capture her work from the perspective of an outsider.
Meeting Maria was far less like meeting a stranger, and much more like meeting an old friend. Maybe it was due to our exchange of emails and Facebook messages on an occasional basis, but it wasn't awkward, even though I know as a human being I can be rather awkward at first meetings. We hit it off, talking over a few hard ciders and pizza, seriously the way into anyone's heart. She shared her story, we (because Ryan was there at this point too) shared ours, and I set up a time to spend the day together.
I went into our day without any expectations, a nervous stomach, a few butterflies because honestly to this day I still get nervous in social situations and capturing people, couples, and weddings. It's part of my want, my need to create something that is honest and true to not only my own heart but my subject as well. Brian (Maria's super kind/sweet husband) welcomed me into their home with their two sweet as pie fur babies Max and Baxter, I'm a sucker for a black cat. From that moment we all existed together, and it felt amazing. I was a part of Maria, Brian, Max and Baxter's life for a day, from the morning smoothie/coffee to Brian working on his musical creations, to the boys laying on Maria's lap as she painted. I just felt so much ease with them, and so much honesty.
Maria is such an inspiration to me, but not just in the sense that she creates these amazing oil paintings with so much life and meaning to them. Maria is such an inspiration to me for her pure honesty and willingness to share her life and process openly and honestly with a world that follows her every brush stroke. She doesn't hide any of the flaws with perfectly white walls and simplicity while staging out brushes, her palette, or meticulously placing that perfect cup of coffee in a room drenched with natural light. Instead, she fills her space with place, people, artists and items that inspire her. She keeps her loved ones, friends, and creations around her like witness' to her creations. She doesn't show her viewers what she wants them to see, she shows her viewers what is truly there to be seen.
We talked about a lot that day, from photography, to inspiration, to painting and literally everything in between. But what truly stuck with me, what I carry in my heart and think about daily from my time with her, is this idea of honesty and openness. I've found myself falling into the social media norms at this point, styling out my "life", cleaning up little spaces so I can share what I've been working on, or new finds, or my latest coffee/snack or whatever. I've found myself putting out into the world not necessarily something that is fake, because if I show you an amazing dish or drink you better bet your ass I consumed it right after that photo was taken/shared. But I'm sharing the more refined version of my life, the version of my life that maybe subconsciously I want people to think that I lead. I don't share the ugly green carpet in the room where I create, or the floral couch/love seat that we have because frankly they aren't in great shape and I don't want to spend the money on new ones. I show the perfectly curated version of us, our lives, our art, and our love, and part of me is a little sad about that. I've fallen into this world where my messy work space, or ugly couch might not be acceptable but hey, those things are all who I truly am and what attributes to my art, craft, business, and personality.
Maria showed me that it's ok to share the mistakes we make in our art, or even our process with others openly. I've always been an open book to anyone who would take the time to ask questions, I have nothing to hide and I'm more then willing to over share as well. But she showed me that sharing the true side of my art, my process, and who I am is truly ok and actually helps inspire others to be more honest in who they are with their art. I'm still working on sharing more of the actual me, and it is going to be a long journey of walking that line of relevant sharing and not, but I'm so thankful to have such an amazing person, artist, and now friend in my life who can inspire me not only with amazing pieces of art but with pure honesty, openness, and care.
Below are the images that I created while spending my time with Maria, they are what I saw, what inspired me, and what helped me grow as an artist. There are so many things that I wish I would have done and captured differently but art is a journey and all you can do is learn from the ride and do it better the next time. It was so inspiring to capture Maria's process, to be inspired even more by the artist she is and also to have the opportunity to be in front of her lens, with a wet face and a trash bag over my head breathing in plastic.... it wasn't creepy at all. Enjoy.
Please check out all of the amazing work that Maria puts out into the world: