How to aid the planet through art with Marisa Rehana Mann

We caught up with environmental artist Marisa Rehana Manna about environmental influences on her visual artwork. It's part of the Artist Workshop with Voice series, funded by Arts Council England

How to aid the planet through art with Marisa Rehana Mann

On September 10 2020 we held a live interview and practical workshop with visual artist Marisa Rehana Mann. Here’s what we learnt from Marisa: 

Interview with Marisa Rehana Mann

Marisa Rehana Mann joined us live on Instagram before her workshop where she shared more about her background in the creative industry and her artistic process. 

Firstly, Marisa shared how her childhood greatly influences her visual work. Having been raised in the Himalayas and West Africa, the landscapes, colour and wildlife of these two varying locations continue to inspire her work. She now lives in Dorset, UK, where she has recently been inspired by the coastal sea life. 

Marisa also ran us through her artistic process and what this generally looks like from concept to execution. Thorough research is always a part of her projects - from photographing wildlife to researching where animals reside in their natural habitat, Marisa is keen to portray accuracy in her visual artwork. This is followed by transferring the image onto graph paper where she can then begin to trace, sketch or paint the chosen subject matter. 

When talking about how climate change and environmentalism influence her work, Marisa mentioned that shocking audiences plays a key role in affecting change. She also encouraged young people to continue to use art to raise awareness about the climate crisis and says it is still possible for humans to reverse the damage. 

You can watch the full interview here.

Artist Workshop with Marisa Rehana Mann

Following the interview, Marisa conducted a Zoom workshop and shared practical methods to get involved in visual art. 


Firstly, Marisa gave a demonstration of how to make a monoprint. Take a non-absorbent surface such as acrylic or glass and use diluted inks to splash an array of colours onto the surface. You can do this using a paintbrush to create a splatter effect. 

Next, take a sheet of paper and lay this onto the non-absorbent surface. Lift up the paper and you should see a marbled pattern from the paint. Leave this aside to dry; you can often get more than one paper print from a surface so feel free to keep printing until the surface is dry. 

Use the monoprint as a creative background for an ink painting or drawing. 

Sketching with graph paper

In this demonstration, Marisa decided to sketch a caterpillar from her allotment garden. She had already printed out a sheet of graph paper and the caterpillar picture with graph overlaid. You can use a computer programme to do this, or simply use a ruler and pen to create the squared effect.

By following the squares and paying attention to detail, Marisa began to sketch out the shape of the caterpillar. This helps to maintain accuracy and scale when sketching or painting. 

Creating a stencil

Using a sheet of acrylic and a craft knife, you can create a stencil to use in your artwork. Marisa used a painting of a butterfly she had completed earlier and scored around the butterfly with her craft knife. 

You can either use the shape cut out from the acrylic, or the sheet of acrylic with negative space. Whilst you may decide to use a stencil for a particular project, Marisa recommended holding onto your stencils as they often come in handy for other projects in the future. 

More about Marisa Rehana Mann

Marisa Rehana Mann’s work is influenced by a unique, colourful childhood to overcome difficulties faced in later life. The sensitive, yet political nature expressed towards Marisa Mann’s subject matter can be seen as a direct result of empathy felt towards global situations from first-hand experience of the destruction dealt out by wars and corruption, and from a later career in local Government after studies at The London School of Economics.

The current focus of Marisa Mann’s work has developed through the determination to overcome her disability and become vocal through art for humanitarian causes close to her heart. Currently working as an Artist-in-Residence with various charitable organisations across Europe, she has been involved in projects that have enabled a personal exploration and documentation of global and cultural events.

More artist interviews and workshops

Thanks to Arts Council England, we're excited to be offering you a whole series of artist workshops. Join us as we interview creatives and then hand over to them to run a workshop! Perfect if you're doing an Arts Award and need to find out about an artist's work and career.

Header Image Credit: Artwork by Marisa Rehana Mann


Sienna James

Sienna James Voice Team

Formerly Assistant Editor, Sienna now studies History of Art at the University of Cambridge and loves to write about the intersection of politics, history and visual art. Sienna is author of the Creative Education and Instaviews series.

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