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FEATURED ARTIST: Meridith Martens

2011 May 15

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When the $2 Art Contest began, I did not intend to exclude any group of  artists or media. But as it turns out, I find myself drawn to emerging and mid-career artists whose work has a visual brand.

Most of the artists that submit to the $2 Art Contest produce phenomenal work, and some of it has really spoken to me.  But the final ingredient seems to be… is it this work a beautiful flat of clemintines or is this the artist’s fruit of the month?  I enjoy looking at a piece and seeing an artist’s stamp on it, not just proof that the artist can tackle every media well.

As an emerging artist, I received a great piece of advice… find your voice.  But it is rare that an artist opens themselves up to the judgement and scrutiny that comes with revealing both the struggles and successes of finding that voice. This month’s work reminds me to appreciate the work EVERY artist struggles with to produce with a clear voice and signature.

Stripes and Bars by Meridith MartensThis month’s artist has
given us a window
into an artist’s pace:

learning charted.

The Featured Artist chosen from the April entries is Meridith Martens.  Martens’ work is at times simple and straightfoward, but as the process continues I find work that makes me say, “How did she do that?” instead of “I can do THAT” — the latter being all time crushing statement of dismissal frequently heard in galleries around the globe.

Meridith Martens

As the daughter of a nomadic military family, Meridith Martens eventually settled in Annapolis where she combined her love of horses with her artistic talent and a gifted painter of horses emerged.  Her career started as a portrait painter of horses on a local level as a teenager and then expanded to race horses from Saratoga to Hialeah.  She attended Corcoran School of Art, The San Francisco Art Institute, The Maryland Institute of Art and worked as an illustrator for a commercial art studio.

Arachniphobia by Meridith MartensAfter a year in Paris, she moved to New York City and married an actor.  Her daughter was born 3 years later. Two years after, a divorce found Martens and her daughter moving to North Carolina.  The move offered the opportunity to make a living painting portraits of horses, dogs and their owners.

A workshop given by Wolf Kahn and his sponsored fellowship to the Vermont Studio Center gave her the opportunity to experiment with abstract forms.  As she painted, her work evolved.  She is equally comfortable with realism and abstract and the infinite range of expression between them.  Now residing in NC for 25 years, with her husband of 10 years, Meridith continues to create, experiment, explore and strives to excel in whatever medium she chooses.

But I wanted Martens to weigh in on the “Spin Art” she submitted to  “Using the term ‘spin art’ initially seems to put people off until they get an opportunity to see what I’ve done.  Then I can explain the process and the work and layering that’s involved.  The basic process is spin art, but it’s more refined and deliberate.  There is a great deal of thought process involved regarding style and color, but the final product has to have a feeling of spontaneity without looking contrived…”

Oil leak by Meridith Martens“It’s approved by the American Dental Association for not being too sugery sweet…”

“4 out of 5 academic artists were intrigued by the process and actually like it and can appreciate the process.”

What do you say to the academics out there that believe spin art is just random aesthetics? “Shut up . . . what’s in your wallet?  Many contemporary artists have been criticized for being too commercial, but honestly what better endorsement does an artist have than creating art that appeals to the masses.”

Talk to me about how you work… your process: “It’s not a secret, maybe the details of the equipment will be vague and the process details will stay with me, but I started with the spin art toy and then modified a box fan. As I developed the work and the process, I looked for larger options to accommodate larger canvases and more paint. My latest “machine” is a very large fan that was modified by my engineer husband and fabricated in a machine shop.  My equipment still needs some tweaking and of course I need to find a larger space to work in.”

Loops and Drips by Meridith MartensDo you have special terminology that you have developed for how you work?  No, I need a name . . . got any ideas?  Something snappy and commercial?”  Indeed I do:

Centrifugal painting: Controlled experiments in Viscosity.

You know “we have to talk about food” is usually how this interview continues, but to my horror, I received the following response:Sorry to disappoint, but I’m not really a foodie, but when I’m hungry, I love lobster, artichokes, chocolate souffle.”  I am going to choose to believe she IS a foodie and is just not fully versed in its definition.  After all, she didn’t say “cheese burger and fries.”  She SAID, “lobster, artichokes and chocolate souflee.”  She is forgiven, for now.

Learn more about Meridith Martens on Facebook!So, what’s coming up next for you, Meridith? “My latest series has come from a desire to create larger pieces on canvas.  This had to start with a much larger machine.  After much thinking and many drawings I came up with a spinner that could accommodate a 4’ x 4’ canvas.  My next obstacle was becoming familiar with the new canvas surface, size and the effects of this canvas with the process techniques I had developed with the smaller pieces of paper.  This series is still an ongoing project.  From the start of this project I have so far produced over 200 pieces.  I will continue to push my work to the next level, always exploring and experimenting, always trusting my instincts and always excited about what I am doing.”

Learn more about Meridith Martens online!


Learn more about Meridith Martens online!

 Want to be a Featured Artist on
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40 Responses
  1. Laren S. Jones permalink
    May 16, 2011

    I own several of Meridith’s originals and am so excited that she is exploring new vistas and different styles of painting. I LOVE her realism paintings, but am enthralled with her new styles as well; they expand the mind and mean different things to different people who see them. As for the terminology for her work, how about wind art or fan art? I am a fan!!

  2. Howard Schubert permalink
    May 16, 2011

    I love Meridith’s work. I’ve seen these “up close and personal” and to REALLY appreciate what she has done, you’ve got to see them “hanging”.

  3. Sheryl Kennedy permalink
    May 16, 2011

    I recommend a visit to Meridith Martens’ website. The paintings are show-stopping. They bring to mind stained-glass windows, anatomical drawings, shattered ruins- both ancient and modern.

    These paintings are wonderful and I cannot wait to see the larger canvases to come.

    Thank you for your interesting blog and the amazing work of this artist.

  4. May 17, 2011

    Meridith is a wonderful artist! It ranges from realism to abstract and she’s great at it all. I have a portrait of one of my cats that she did and it’s amazing. But I also have some of her abstracts and I always receive compliments from all my guests on her paintings. I highly recommend making your home sparkle with some of her pieces.

  5. May 17, 2011

    Meridith’s art has been the inspiration for many of my interior design projects. She has the skills to pursue any avenue of art and the passion to make it breathtaking.

  6. Sharon Ferguson permalink
    May 17, 2011

    I’ve been following Meridith’s work for about 20 years now and I’m constantly amazed at how she continues to expand her artistic horizons. Already an accomplished equestrian and portrait artist, she has ‘no fear’ when it comes to exploring new ideas. Her spin art exhibits an exhilerating sense of freedom and her wonderful sense of humor shows itself in her other contemporary pieces. Always an inspiration to me, I am proud to own some of her work.

  7. Scott Brewster permalink
    May 18, 2011

    Meridith’s art is indeed unique, and her latest spin art collection in fantastic. I own two from her spin art collection, and, not only do they look great in my place in Brooklyn, but they are certainly conversation pieces when I have guests over. Everyone loves them!

  8. Jerry Choy permalink
    May 19, 2011

    Meridith is an amazing artist. Each piece has its own story and unique energy. I look forward to expanding my collection with her work.

  9. Patricia Yarborough Reed permalink
    May 19, 2011

    Meredith’s work is both sophisticated and playful, deliberate and spontaneous, serious and comical. I love the layerings and feeling of being transported to another dimension where quirky creations take on a life of their own!
    Patricia Yarborough Reed
    Rockport, Mass.

  10. Megan Fruchte permalink
    May 19, 2011

    I work for Meredith Martens as an intern in her studio, and her work never ceases to impress and amaze me. Every time I go to her studio, there are several new and exciting pieces to look at (drool over). Working in her studio is like immersing oneself in a fantastic realm; her work is everywhere and there is always something to catch the eye and rivet the viewer to the spot. It is a pleasure and an inspiration to work with her and to see her best work!

  11. Michael Puryear permalink
    May 20, 2011

    I have known Meredith for more than 30 years. To see her artistic developement over time is to understand the dedication and commitment necessary to become a mature artist.

  12. Garrett M Brown permalink
    May 20, 2011

    So gifted, and in sculpture as well, I still have a small portrait head done in clay sitting on my sill…this article only begins to touch on the range of her painterly gifts — and the arc of her journey through the years is remarkable in that she has never given up the quest — and now she seems more immersed and unswerving than she’s ever been — congratulations, Meridith, continued success —

  13. May 20, 2011

    Meridith is a fantastic artist. The art she provided for the cover of the April issue of PineStraw Magazine is an all-time favorite with our readers. She is fabulous.

  14. Karen Bedall permalink
    May 20, 2011

    Meridith is a wonderful artist. I am continuously amazed with her new projects. I am delighted to own several original pieces and look forward to adding spin art to my collection.

  15. Donna Howard Verrilli permalink
    May 20, 2011

    Our entire family, meaning four families, own more than three Meredith Martens paintings each. She is the Best and will be listed as one of this country’s top artist. The portraits Meredith painted of my grandchildren could not be better. Her paintings of fox hunting, horses & hounds and fox are all priceless, so well done. She is good at any subject matter.

  16. Martha Martens permalink
    May 21, 2011

    All Meridith’s work is awesome, but her “centrifugal” abstracts are incredibly stunning and I hope to own one some day!

  17. Liz Hammerman permalink
    May 21, 2011

    Meredith’s talent and ability never cease to amaze me! Her work — regardless of the subject — is both emotionally and aesthetically pleasing. She and her work are highly regarded and respected in this community of artists and scholars.

  18. Kathryn Strack permalink
    May 21, 2011

    I love the range of pieces! Amazing attention to detail!

  19. Mickey Wirtz permalink
    May 21, 2011

    I have many of Meredith’s paintings. I am sitting in a room looking at four them now. Each
    very different in subject matter and style. I go to her studio and see all of her unique works
    and like them all. Her spin art is great. Her willingness to experiment always amazes me.
    She is not afraid to test herself and her gift. I have bought and given her paintings to my
    children and they treasure her works as much as I do.

  20. Judi Hewett permalink
    May 21, 2011

    I’ve known Meridith as a friend and artist for 20 years and I have witnessed her artistic evolution “up close and personal.”

    I think what I admire most about her work is how diverse it is. From the ultra-realism of her portraits, both human and animal to her free-spirited “spin art.”

    Meridith’s spin art in particular, is a very interesting process, in that she takes this chaotic spinning process and harnesses it with color and precision.

    I think it’s the horse woman in Meridith that gives her the ability to work with this medium.

  21. Jean Rae Hinton permalink
    May 23, 2011

    This is a community of Meredith Martens art lovers. All of her work is fabulous from traditional portraiture, to hunting, to still life, to modern . So many equestrians have treasured portraits of their beloved horses. So many have hunting scenes. What I love is her ability with color hues. Her work can be subtle tones used in her animal pictures, the great blues and greens of sailboats, and the vibrant and fun colors of her bowling series. It is fun to see her new avenue of exploration. No one is ever tired of Meredith Martens. Always emerging.

  22. Jim Secky permalink
    May 23, 2011

    I have been associated with the professional art and design field for over 40 years. Meredith approaches her work objectively and it is a pleasure to see her interpret subjects with a variety of styles. I particularly admire Meridith for her ability to critique her own work. There are few people as gifted as MM.

  23. Will Krause permalink
    May 23, 2011

    Meridith Martens is the epitome of what it means to be a true artist. Her gift is obvious, but she also has an innate ability to stretch out and try new techniques. There is never a detail left unattended and that speaks to the professionalism Meridith conveys in her work. I am lucky enough to own two original pieces and hope to own several more in the future. The pieces are definitely great catalysts to conversations and always leave a lasting impression long after someone has viewed them. Her warmth and refined style make her a pleasure to interact with and this article is a great start to informing others of her talent.

  24. Nancy Weisser permalink
    May 23, 2011

    I only have one piece by Meredith Martens. However, I am looking forward to seeing her website and getting one of the “centrigal paintings.” I find the black and white especially intriguing. I’m signing off to go back to the article.

  25. May 23, 2011

    She can reinvent herself and is constantly doing so! Not only can she paint but she is a wonderful person to boot!

  26. May 23, 2011

    I love the new direction, new thinking, new subject matter, from the same, wonderful artist!!

  27. Lori Heim permalink
    May 23, 2011

    Meridith’s work shows her depth- not only in the realism but also with her “fan art”. I’m a fan after having 2 horse portraits that truley captured not just the look of the my horses but got their personality perfectly. That’s a gifted artist.

  28. Hayley Hatcher Dettor permalink
    May 24, 2011

    I absolutely love Meredith and her work. I am lucky enough to own a few of her pieces. My favorite is an oil portrait she did of me and my lab “The Chief” 15 years ago. I cannot believe it has been that long. I told her once that if my house was on fire, I would grab my husband, my dog, and her portrait. Not neccessarily in that order!

  29. May 24, 2011

    Meridith Martens is one of the finiest artists that I have had the priviledge to know both in the US and Paris, France. She is well diciplined in many forms of art but my favorites are her pen and black ink sketches from spots around Paris, drawn in the mid-to-late 70’s. Her work also includes water color/pen and ink: my most favorite of her work are her oil portraits of horses – she is indeed one of the finest horse portrait artist’s of my generation, catching the nuances of this beautiful creature like no other artist I’ve ever encountered. I’m pleased to say I possess several pieces of her work from the mid-70’s, and now hope to own pieces of her newest foray into modern art, and experiments involving the application of paint with the use of centrifugal force. She is, again, a most brilliant and talented artist, and I am very pleased to have discovered her website after losing touch with her over the past 30 years…………good work my dear friend, and much success. Linda :>

  30. Carol Butler permalink
    May 28, 2011

    Meridith Martens is an incredible artist who I have known for 10 years.
    Her work is very collectible in my town and region of North Carolina and she is a hard working very creative woman. She is not just a piddler, an occassional artist—art is Meridith’s life and passion. She works daily for 8 hours at it and has produced work for large companies, commissions for individuals, and work for galleries. I am never surprised when she comes up with another masterpiece because her creative juices never cease to flow. She is also a great support to the Arts in our community and to her fellow artists.

  31. May 29, 2011

    I have known Meridith since childhood. It has been amazing to watch her develop into the talented artist she is. She is always exploring and reaching for new heights, be it realism or spin art. Painting is her passion- always has been and, I believe, always will be.

  32. Danielle Veasy permalink
    May 31, 2011

    A True Artist!!!– Meridith has the ability to think outside the box and create amazing pieces of art! In each piece you feel Meridith has analyzed every line– no matter if it is spin art or a paininting of a fox– you can see there is deliberate attention to detail.

  33. Simon Portsmouth permalink
    June 1, 2011

    I am lucky enough to have one of Meredith’s originals. It’s so exciting to see the work develop and her skills continue to evolve. She displays an incredible spectrum of ability, from contemporary to realism.
    Her work has been appreciated by my contacts from around the world. Thanks for sharing your gift!

  34. June 2, 2011

    how wonderful that what was an oppressive task for women of the past is now a liberating art form! cool stuff! keep on spinning.

  35. Chris Dunn permalink
    June 12, 2011

    I feel fortunate to know Meridith, as she is the consummate artist…always stretching herself and the viewer. I can’t wait to see what’s next!

  36. Sherry Samkus permalink
    June 13, 2011

    Merideth is an awsome artist. She is constantly reinventing herself and the inventions always have great results!

  37. June 19, 2011

    Meredith, I met you and saw your work at the Campbell House. I am just sending you a note letting you know that I really loved your work.
    Gerald O Dukes

  38. M Krause permalink
    June 20, 2011

    I have seen Meredith’s work. I have also watched her paint! She is an amazing artist. And also an talented person. It is wonderful to see her art featured! Go Meredith! It is beautiful and inspiring. (Wish I could paint..:( )

  39. Don Hammerman permalink
    June 28, 2011

    Meridith is a multi-talented artist. Her work spans a variety of subject areas, all of which are rich and exquisitely detailed! She has an outstanding, well deserved, reputation in our community.

    It is a pleasure to own and enjoy her work!

  40. December 31, 2011

    Is this where I cast my vote for my favorite featured artist? VOTE!

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