Using a variety of succulents, air plants, or bromeliads, preserved moss, and other hearty drought-tolerant greens, Patrick Marston creates living murals and potted motifs that evoke the glow and swim of a pet shop aquarium–a constant source of inspiration for his paintings and his latest venture, Planted Art.
It's modern floral design meets sustainable plantscape with the intention of a fine art installation. Marston's moss walls are no Woolly Pockets. They're meticulously designed from top to bottom (or side to side) with slots to mount living arrangements, or if you like, water globes with live goldfish. They're meant to be hung inside, or if outside, in a protected area. It's mounted, planted art. And potted arrangements, each sculptural and unique, are more apt to be tucked into a gnarled piece of driftwood or rusted beach debris than an actual pot. If some of these pieces are reminiscent of Big Red Sun, it wouldn't be far fetched. Marston used to be the creative director.
"What I've loved through this process is learning to have one aesthetic feed the other," says Marston. "Painting has taught me to bring things into planting, and planting design has taught me to bring things into painting."
Marston's exuberant imagination is rivaled only by his radiant charm and humor, although he says that his husband Michael Brunt is the extrovert in the relationship. (Brunt was the one who tipped us off about Planted Art, after all.) They live on 27th Ave., one of Venice's coveted walk streets between the canals and the beach, where they both earn a living from their creative works. Marston paints and plants in a small green bungalow detached from the main house, and Brunt writes music.
"It's kind of a marriage made in heaven because when he's practicing music I just put on my headphones so we can be with each other while we're doing our creative work and share a nice space together," says Marston. "It’s a really nice life that we’ve created and I wake up every morning in appreciation."
Their bungalow is nestled under an enormous pine that's offered many lessons on how to garden in the shade. For the most part, Marston is self taught. He grew up in Connecticut in a home that sat on a quarter acre, and his mother filled the grounds with gardens. Her passion passed on to Marston, who throughout his entire life has grown veggies, herbs and whatever his living space would allow. His large front yard, now trimmed with succulents and micro-gardens in colorful vessels, was at one point bald and dreary before Marston and Brunt gradually brought it to life.
"We're very much self-educated about a lot of the plants in these gardens and then some," says Marston. "I worked at Big Red Sun, thanks to Selena, and I learned about the amazing world of succulents and air plants, tillandsias, and bromeliads, and then I fell in love because those were plants that were much more durable and easy to take care of and maintain. They were sculptural and colorful, and it just really resonated with me to use them to create design and art. Plants for me are kind of a 3D sculpture outlet for my creativity whereas painting is 2D, flat dimension."