Online Member of the Month: Mark Goings (Mgoings)


When he decided to become an artist, member Mark Goings found himself in familiar company — his father, Ralph Goings, and his brother, Drew Goings, are both photorealist painters. The three men had even been collaborators during an earlier point in their careers.

“When I was a kid, my dad would bring home a big roll of butcher paper, which he’d stretch out on the kitchen table, and we’d play a game of quick draw,” Goings recalls. “My dad would draw something, then my brother and I would take turns. It just kept going on until we’d covered the whole piece of paper. I have really fond memories of that.”

Goings says it was through these experiences and others like it that his father became his first artistic mentor.

“When you’re a kid, you imitate what your dad does. As long as I can remember, I’ve always had drawing materials and painting materials around.”

Like his father and brother, Goings developed “the bug,” as he calls it, never doubting that he wanted to become an artist. He focused on art courses during his three years at American River College in Sacramento, California, the area where he grew up. Having a well-known artist parent, he had no romanticized notions about the nature of the work, an advantage during his studies.

“I think I had more knowledge of what being an artist was like when I was going to school. More so than most of my classmates … because I had the experience.”

Later, in the early 1980s, he moved to San Francisco and started a graphic design company, Mark Goings Design. Having his own business gave Goings a steady income as well as greater autonomy and flexibility in his fine art career because he didn’t have to depend on sales of his paintings. Throughout the years, Goings has shown work at several San Francisco galleries, including Louis K. Meisel Gallery, Himovitz Gallery and the Circle Gallery, whose location was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

For a short period, Goings was also involved with an art placement company. “They would commission paintings from an artist, take them to corporate buildings and place them as a service, but the paintings were also for sale,” he explains. “It seemed like a pretty good thing to me because my art would be pretty much all over the city.” Nevertheless, when the company commissioned Goings to complete 20 paintings in a short period of time, he struggled against overwhelming pressure.

“It was grueling, one of the hardest things I’ve ever done because I’d never done anything quite like that — art on demand.”

Afterward, Going was so burned out by the experience, he needed a break from painting. He resolved to give his own company his full attention instead. He was “still drawing and stuff but not doing anything serious.”

Things changed around 2000 when Goings happened to speak with an old friend from his high school — glass artist Ginger Kelly. Her career had just begun to really take off, but Goings felt as though opportunities were passing him by. He committed to painting again.

“I realized I was blowing it by not keeping up my painting. And so I started painting again, and I haven’t looked back since. I paint as much as I possibly can.”

Today, Goings is represented by Plus One Gallery in London and OK Harris in New York. He maintains two Web sites:, which is dedicated to his photorealist works; and, which is dedicated to a collection of his whimsical, illustrative images. Goings appreciates each style for its unique working process. Whereas a realist painting can take up to three months of patient labor and attention to detail to complete, a whimsical piece requires an intense session of immediate, spontaneous creativity.

“The two working styles are completely different. The processes are different. They’re both equally hard, and they both have their difficulties.”

At the moment, Goings is preparing for a solo exhibition of his whimsical paintings at OK Harris in the fall.

“I’m interested in creating these kind of unidentifiable characters that aren’t alive. I like to give inanimate things a personality without blatantly giving them eyes and faces — almost like iconic characters.” AC is the online community for Art Calendar and Artists are invited to create a profile and post an online gallery free of charge, participate in the discussion forum and take advantage of the other services of the site.