Thursday, February 23, 2017


Somedays when I first arrive at my studio I "warm up" by doing painting exercises.  Other days I immediately know what I want to do to my painting as soon I enter my space.  This past Sunday my warm ups consisted on playing with Indian Ink, water-soluble graphite and black acrylic paint on inexpensive paper.  I did this exercise before focusing on my paintings.

My goal was to play, make marks using the tools list above and start on another sheet of paper then another.  Not judging, just playing.  Then I put all these sketches aside.  

I have been watching the Netflix series Abstract: The Art of Design.  A few of the episodes resonated with me by the talented, generous,  down-to-earth artists featured.  In one episode the graphic designer Paula Scher said, "If you are not in a state of play you can't make anything."  So true!

So Tuesday, back at the studio I got to a point where I was stalled with my painting so I decided to do more warm-ups in this series of scribbles with ink, graphite and paint.  But first I reviewed the pages from Sunday.  Eureka!  I discovered my sketches, the scribbles and doodles was the key thing missing from my work.  I was getting to literal with my painting.  

So I played on a few more sheets of paper loosening up and left the studio in a better place.  Sometimes warm ups work just as well at the end of your studio day.  Playing works all day. 

Monday, February 13, 2017


On Saturday,  February 4th,  I gave an artist talk and demo for the Watertown Art Association.  This is a lively art association and one of the oldest in the country.  I am one of four presenters in their series Elemental Forces: Earth, Air, Fire & Water funded by the Watertown Cultural Council, a local agency supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.   These demos are free and open to the public.   The next demo features encaustic artist Tracy Spadafora on March 4th @ 2PM.  

12x12 value sketch

It takes a bit of planning on my part as I am not entirely comfortable painting in front of an audience.  The week prior my husband and I walked the Minuteman Trail in Concord, MA.  There I took a photo of a large house just off the trail.  From the photo I did some rough sketches, a value study then a painting sketch.  

12x12 painting sketch

My goal was to play with the earth shades: yellow ochre, burnt sienna & umber and raw sienna & umber,  so I planned out my palette first.   These are colors I seldom use yet they are so rich in mass tones and are the colors of a snowless New England landscape.  

I found pre-planning my palette a worthwhile exercise.   After doing the above warm-ups the composition proved to be a tad boring so I returned to sketching.  The house in Concord was the inspiration but the beauty of being an artist is being able to rearrange the landscape. 

At the demo I blocked out the big shapes sky vs house & land using ultramarine blue and hansa yellow light.  I worked on an 18" x 18" birch panel prepped w/ a few layers of gesso.  

I use a lot of medium so there is a bit of glare on these images.  Once I got the paint on the panel my nervousness dwindled.  The audience asked great questions and were quite engaged in the process.  I wore a mike and after a few technical difficulties that turned out to be a plus.  Thank you Jodie Wigren for that tip. 

My mother-in-law also attended and she gave me a very helpful helpful tip.  "Repeat each question so everyone attending can hear. " Thank you Mary Waters!  

As you can see from these images the painting went through many transitions.  

I continued to simplify the composition from the sketch by removing the trees and reduced it to the essential elements of the house on a hill.  A finished painting for now and a fun adventure spending time pushing paint and engaging with other artists on a Saturday afternoon.  Many thanks to Jodie Wigren, Dawn Evans Scaltreto and President Donna Gaspar

Thursday, February 9, 2017


36" x 36"
mixed media/panel

Yesterday  I received the wonderful news that Solstice, a recent painting finished just this past December, has found a new home.  This is 36" x 36" birch panel and part of a series I have been working on since last January 2016.  I have 12 panels in various states. In a few days I will post the evolution of this painting.  One can work on a painting for weeks then suddenly it all comes together.  The mystery and magic of pushing paint amazes me.

Many thanks to Powers Gallery for sending this painting to a new home!

Thursday, February 2, 2017


8" x 8"

I will be giving an artist talk and a painting demo this Saturday at the Watertown Art Association.  This is part of their ongoing series titled Elemental Forces and my work will represent the Earth element.  Below is a description of this free and open-to-the-public event. 
Special thanks to artists Jodie Wigren and Dawn Evan Scaltreto for this kind invitation to share my painting process and to Watertown Cultural Council for supporting this series. 

Martha Wakefield presents Abstracting Nature
Saturday, February  4, 2017, 2—4 pm
The Innovation Space, Arsenal Project Mall, Old Navy Entrance,
485 Arsenal Street, Watertown, MA
This month’s Watertown Art Association’s “Elemental Forces” series funded by Watertown Cultural Council will feature the element, “Earth” and artist/teacher, Martha Wakefield. Painting in oils on panels she will share her tools, techniques and playful approach to enjoying the plein air experience.  As a popular art teacher Wakefield will also describe her approach to elements of the graphic language in creating an unique expressive voice.  To see more of her work visit her website at   Pictured above, Drifting Echoes © Martha Wakefield 2017, oil on panel
Watertown Art Association’s demonstrator series are free and open to the public.  Their program,  Elemental Forces: Earth Air, Fire, Water,  is funded by the Watertown Cultural Council, a local agency which is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

Hope to see you there!