One winter evening, Vermont-born and Portland-based artist Mia Farrington recalls saying to her husband, “What the fuck was I waiting for all this time?” It was a powerful breakthrough moment — one that gave her the courage to pick up the paintbrush again.
Coming from a family where her father, mother, and stepfather were all artists, Farrington was always the kid who pined for the arts and could regularly be found in the ceramic and drawing studios, creating away. However, after working in the Archive department at Nike for seven years, giving birth to two kids, and one very serious winter riddled with anxiety, she realized she hadn’t picked up a paintbrush in years. That provoking moment of realization became a turning point in her life, like a weight lifted off her shoulders, and she decided to commit to a weekly practice.
After ditching the nine-to-five life after her second child, Farrington now receives regular commissions, creates bodies of work for exhibitions, and has a growing client base of interior designers and collectors.
Her bold palette and delicate shapes conjure into a delicate — yet powerful — oversimplified abstraction that makes any modern-decorated room come to life. Farrington’s work features bright pops of color whose vivid colors command attention while fitting in surprisingly easy with its surroundings.
Traditionally characterized by two perfectly non-perfect ovals or circular shapes, the two shapes’ contrasting colors offer up a childlike simplicity, masterfully rendered.
However, her work didn’t always have this style.
“The shapes are very symbolic of where I am currently in my life,” she shares. In fact, the wild and free paintings she created in her early 20’s are drastically different than the controlled and uncomplicated work we see today. One of Farrington’s biggest inspirations is the art of seminal artist Ellsworth Kelly, whose work brings about an immediate visceral feeling and higher vibration.
In her work today, Farrington creates multiple color stories that together test out the different colors for a single piece. “Color is so emotional for me,” she explains. Using a range of digital programs, she renders the shape, color, and placement before ever even taking a single stroke to canvas. From concept to completion, the process normally takes about two to three weeks in which the client and her will finalize the chosen scheme, size, and shape of the piece. With so many endless color choices, her clients tend to trust her process completely and allow it to happen naturally.
Drawing inspiration from architecture, nature, fashion, and historical art, the environment that lands on the canvas can be a product of wherever she chooses to look.
The artist also enjoys playing around with linens and over-stretched canvases. She prides herself on creating her own canvas’ from scratch, calling it a rewarding part of the process.
Portland’s abundant art community is inherently individual as well as community supported — especially in regards to local artists. In addition to commissions and studio sales, Farrington also creates bodies of work specifically for exhibitions. These new works create special relationships with each other, strung together through their emotive color stories that form an individual and cohesive identity.
Farrington aims to grow her established presence into the realm of restaurants, hotels, and offices. With large-scale works and murals in the future, her work and process has so much discovery and potential left.
Be on the lookout for Farrington inside select curated shops like Anthropologie and Portland’s own Beam & Anchor. Or check her out on Instagram at @mimi_farrington.
Alexsis Ballard graduated from Central Saint Martins in London with a Bachelor in Criticism, Culture, and Curation. Areas of curiosity include art, environmentalism, sexual and gender equality, race relations, and media psychology. She is currently based in the US and working on her first website launch! Find her on Instagram at @honeylexluthor.