Heather Gwen Martin’s paintings walk the line between deliberation and spontaneity. Dissolving any sense of objectivity, the artist avoids preconceptions, allowing her compositions to materialize with immediacy, experimentation, and improvisation.
Martin’s paintings begin as intense, physical endeavors, which she later hones with touch, strength, and control. Each canvas is proportional to the artist’s body: the smallest relating to her head and the largest to her full body and arm span. Elegant lines, precise brushwork, and a vibrant color palette are signature elements of her work, which she makes entirely by hand, employing the traditional materials of oil paint and linen.
Martin begins each painting by methodically mixing paint, creating a unique palette with a keen sensitivity to balance. She primes the linen with an oil ground, allowing the natural weave and texture to reveal itself. With broad brushstrokes she then paints a field of color, allowing her mind and hand to find their rhythm. Out of this field, forms and lines emerge—some preplanned others intuitively developed. Martin revisits each form and line with multiple layers of paint, which lead to slight shifts in color and shape at each pass. While forms seem flat and hard-edged when viewed from afar, the warmth and nuance of human hand is revealed at closer look—an effect that Martin celebrates.
Viveros-Fauné remarks, “Martin has mobilized one of the planet’s most ancient analog technologies–painting–to hijack and enhance the look of our digital world. As a result, her canvases speak the lingua franca of computer-aided visuals but encourage mindfulness.”