Martha BleidnerMartha Bleidner has been creating all her: life, drawing, writing, making jewelry and crafts. For her, it's all about colors, textures, shapes, and a little bit of fantasy. She's never been able to settle for just one style or genre or technique. She finds that there's always something new to try, or different techniques to merge. This led Martha to spend a number of years as a professional needlecraft and craft designer. With a partner, Celia Lange Designs, Martha designed needlecraft and craft projects for a number of different publishers, including Leisure Arts, The Needlecraft Shop, House of White Birches, and Workbasket. She most enjoyed projects which were the ones which "pushed the envelope", combining techniques from different sources, such as working embroidery stitches over a background of needlepoint stitching, or adding dimensional craft elements to a needlecraft project. This love for pushing the boundaries and mixing elements means that she is always exploring new directions in her art and her crafting.
What attracts you to the fantastical in creating art?
I've always loved reading fantasy, mythology, folk and fairytales, and science fiction, since they all invite my imagination out to play. My father was a scientist, so I learned early on how to analyze what's around me and think in a linear fashion, but I also learned to take science "with a grain of salt". Too many times I've heard some "expert" pronounce that something doesn't exist or isn't possible, and then some years later the it turns out that the "extinct" fish still swims in the ocean or the "impossible" particle has been located. So I try to keep an open mind and allow the fantastical to be a part of my reality, and incorporate it into my art.
Where do you find the inspiration for your landscape paintings?
Over the years I've been fortunate enough to travel a lot, and I've always been drawn to nature. Whenever I see something that catches my eye, I take a mental "snapshot". This gives me a sort of "impressionist" version of what I've seen, rather than the "reality" version of a true snapshot (although I do use those as well, sometimes). Then, when I want to paint, I use a combination of one or more mental and/or physical snapshots, mix them with a good dose of imagination, and add an element of letting the working medium guide me.
Sometimes I have one thing in mind, and the paint just insists on leading me somewhere else. For example, I recently started a seascape, but what I was envisioning and what I was producing weren't on the same page at all. So I stepped back and stopped fighting to make it a seascape... it ended up being a really cool background to a still life of an orchid-like flower in a pot... not looking like anything else I'd ever done before... I still have no idea why it ended up that way, but I like it.
Are there new themes or mediums you anticipate exploring in your upcoming work?
Always! I'm notorious for wanting to try everything I see. I've started exploring acrylics and experimenting with gel mediums and interference colors. There are so many wonderful effects you can get with color intensity, texture and color shifts. I'm currently waiting for a back order of Inktense blocks so I can begin to experiment with the effects of using ink rather than paint as a water medium, and I've also started some collage pieces using a variety of techniques that I originally used for scrapbooking, but applying them in very different ways.
I suspect, though, that I will long continue to work with watercolor as one of my primary media. It's one of the handful of methods of expressing myself that always seems to have something different for me to achieve. And since my styles range from semi-realism to fully abstract, that says a lot!
As for new themes, I have more themes lined up and waiting impatiently in my mind than I know what to do with! At this point, I have my art supplies set up in three different locations, and have at least five or six pieces going at any one time. Usually which themes are expressed in which location depends on the supplies I have there, but I have been know to carry a partly finished piece to another location just to finish with a different paint or brush or glaze or whatever. I guess my motto should be, "have art, will travel".
Many thanks to Martha for sharing her lovely work and happy birthday Martha!
What do you think of her paintings?