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September Mind of the Artist: Martha Pope

September 1, 2019

I joined the Capitol Hill Art Workshop shortly after leaving my work in the United States government and have been painting ever since. I am lucky to have benefited greatly by talented instructors at CHAW, including Gina Clapp and Ellen Cornett. With their help and encouragement, I began as a watercolorist, then tired of the terror of each unpredictable brushstroke and turned to pastels, a much more forgiving medium.

I find I am most inspired by landscapes as subject matter. Photographs provide reference for composition and aspects of scenes that intrigue me, perhaps subtleties of light, color or texture. I freely add or subtract objects, values, and color, not caring if the completed painting “looks like” the photograph but hoping it captures and projects it’s painterly aspects. As Gina would often urge, I try to “be the master of my universe”.

I have provided photographs of several examples of my paintings as well as the scenes that inspired them.

In Shenandoah Spring, I sought to capture the almost ethereal quality of reds and greens as trees begin to bud:   

Photograph  Shenandoah Spring

In the painting Sycamore Sentinels, I reduced shades of bright green and substituted textured deeper shades. I also eliminated foreground trees, emphasizing the remaining two Sycamores and one evergreen:

Photograph Sycamore Sentinels

In the final painting/photograph combination, I am among the trees, attempting to capture the dance of trunks decorated with autumn leaves.

Photograph  Among the Trees

Happily, my Wednesday Studio at CHAW will begin again in several weeks.  Until then, I’ll enjoy sorting through photographs of summer excursions, looking for new inspiration.