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Artist Spotlight: Barbara Martin

The SUPER PLY series 

Barbara Martin grew up on three continents, and has lived in eleven states coast to coast. She currently lives in Oregon where she keeps a studio and teaches art classes.

Art is an adventure for Barbara, where each painting is a new exploration of place and emotion. Her work is contemporary in style and leans toward the abstract, at times sometimes surreal. Her subjects range from the serenity of a landscape to the horror of a nightmare. 

Barbara belongs to the Oregon Society of Artists and is a member of several galleries and artist groups in Oregon. Her work has been featured in galleries, shows and museums around the country, and internationally.

The ongoing Super Ply series consists of black and white paintings on bare plywood. Barbara always begins with a random hand doodled abstract monotype on the bare wood, then she begins to paint using two small brushes and her hands. She adds details with oil pastels and pencil after the paint has dried.


When asked about her process, Barbara said, "I usually work in silence alone in my studio, but some of these have been created live at art events and reflect the mood I sense in the room."


"As a process painter," Barbara said, "I allow each painting to develop organically so the character and context are not planned at all. Any text becomes clear at the end when the painting resolves itself."

Lost Her Pearls Grace
LaLaLa Not Listening
Aim High
Mirror Mirror
Laser Chicken Carpe Diem
First in Series
Hear No Speak No See No
Where's the Bus
Having A Nice Day

Artist's Statement: 

Art is an adventure. Each painting is a new exploration of place and emotion. As my fingers smear the paint I sense the character and mood of a piece, and its context develops organically to reveal its particular place-moment in time.

I typically begin with automatic painting, using my fingers and palms to manipulate the paint into textured layers containing swirls and patches of color as well as creating unique marks. I continue by both adding and removing paint using a variety of tools. I cover, obscure and re-cover the surface as I work through a dialogue with the piece, intuitively applying paint and glazes, veiling or scratching away, perhaps detailing with a touch of pencil or oil pastel as the painting nears completion. I most often work in acrylic and prefer painting on plywood because I enjoy the feel of the woodgrain beneath my fingers. My favorite tools are my fingers and angled flat brushes.


Alone in the studio, I work in silence while I listen to each painting. My fingers push and pull at the very threads of story and timeless existence...until imagery, color and texture gradually develop into a narrative. As the subject reveals itself, I am able to settle into the mindspace for the piece and its specific focus becomes clear. Each image holds its own personality and context and inevitably reflects a feeling or situation I have witnessed or experienced -- perhaps empathically or in a dream or in my daily life. I do my best to tell the truth as it presents itself to me in that moment.


I am descended from a long line of herbalists and storytellers so perhaps it is not so surprising that many primordial (and sometimes surreal) connections flow naturally to me. I am just a conduit.

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