Marv Espe grew up on a farm near Roseau, Minnesota and has enjoyed producing works of art which reflect his rural background as well as his love of natural subjects which include woods and water as well as the creatures that live there. His art career began in 1965 after a brief five-year stint as an elementary teacher. His formal art training included time at the American Academy of Art in Chicago as well as at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
From 1965 until 1977 he was employed by Jostens Inc. of Owatonna, Minnesota as staff artist in their Graphic Arts Division. In 1977, Espe with his wife Myrna and two children moved to northern Minnesota where for 20 years he was engaged in painting a wide range of local subjects as well as illustrating for numerous publishers on a free-lance basis.
In 1997 he and his wife moved to northern Wisconsin where he continues to create beautiful art. To date he has produced and sold well more than 1100 original paintings. Well over 1000 of his illustrations have also been published over the years. He has also conducted painting workshops for numerous art organizations in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska.
His paintings have been included in many group and individual exhibitions throughout the upper midwest, and are seen in private as well as corporate collections throughout the U.S. and Canada.
National organizations that have used his art include: The Artist’s Magazine, The American Artist Magazine, National Arbor Day Foundation, National Wildlife Federation, National Rifle Association and others.
Espe’s work is also featured in two art instructional books on the techniques of working in pen and ink:
Sketching Your Favorite Subjects In Pen & Ink
By: Claudia Nice
Publisher: North Light Books
The Technical Pen
By: Gary Simmons
Publisher: Watson Goptill
A select number of his paintings have been published as limited edition prints and many of them are offered on this web site.
Media (processes and materials)
Espe works predominantly in these media:
Pen and Ink with Mixed Water Media – these pieces begin with a pen and ink rendering, often on a colored acid-free board. To this drawing, watercolor washes are applied. Finally acrylics are used to render the areas of the painting which require brightness, such as the sky and other hi-lights.
Acrylics – a water soluble polymere based paint applied with brush or knife to create life-like paintings of a wide variety of subjects. These paintings are executed on gessoed masonite panels or canvas.
Pencil, charcoal & pastels
Espe works in the privacy of his home-studio near the shore of Lake Superior, but has access to the busy, competitive world of free-lance illustration via phone and fax machine.
Marv’s Philosophy of Art
“I do not take full credit for the work I produce since I believe I am a product of my creator, God. As His servant, I create visual impressions on two dimensional surfaces by using various artistic tools such as pencils, pens, brushes, painting knives etc. The visuals I create are my interpretations of the things I see or have experienced during my entire lifetime.
I have been uniquely created with a prescribed set of genes enabling me to produce art as only I can. No other human can see, think or even hold a brush exactly as I do. Therefore my work is exclusive, yet without credit to me. Both my interest in art and my desire and ability to produce it are a direct result of who I am. The things that attract my attention are also a derivative of my genetic and environmental background. I am attracted to the subjects I paint by various stimuli; unusual lighting effects, most frequently. Other phenomenon may also catch my attention on the spur of the moment as well. To first feel the thrill of a thing enables me to more properly share the beauty of it with others by describing it visually on canvas or paper.
It is my joyful privilege to seek to serve my Maker by serving His highest creation – mankind. I do this by helping others become more keenly aware of the beauty in things around them.”