Super Ply: Mixed Media

Artist Statement

These works are from an ongoing series called “Super Ply,” named after one of the first works in the series, “Super Elf,” and because they are all painted on plywood.

Art is an adventure, and each painting in this series was 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 these paintings 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 mind-space 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.


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, and 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, as well as in Norway.