Martha Armstrong

Martha Armstrong, image © Carol Lollis

”The visual world is compelling. It can be overwhelming. I have a distinct early memory of standing in a crib waiting for my grandmother. I am facing a mirror and behind me is a window full of sunlight and trees dancing in the wind reflected in the mirror. In kindergarten I remember painting. By elementary school I identified myself as a painter.

My ballet teacher, Anneliese von Oettingen taught me about art — that an arm extended into space is as expressive as a branch of a tree in a Cezanne. I learned from her the power of line. I studied with her for ten years not so much to become a dancer but to learn the discipline and how much work it takes to dance or to make a painting.

I am always trying to figure out how to put something down, to translate it into an image, a metaphor. Like a writer needing to put something into words.

I paint mostly landscapes. If I’m working on a large painting I go after the whole for as long as I can- days, weeks, scraping down in between, but focusing on what is out there, no matter how much it changes. I want the image to have pieces of many days.

I work on small studies along the way trying to get an idea about the whole. It is often a matter of paying such close attention to see– from the infinite number of marks you could make –what you choose to put down. I want the painting to be about a specific subject and about what is going on in my brain- intuition, feeling judgment, memory. Confronting it, avoid past ideas at all costs. Be as free as possible. Invent an equivalent without premeditation.”