Monday, October 3, 2011

Alix Martin - "Reflect The Life You Love"

My sketchbooks are one of the most intimate parts of my body of work. Someday...when I leave...those will be the most intimate, first raw thoughts of things, the inspirations I leave for my kids. I like to paint and draw from life because then the a final piece is more reflective of where I've been than if it were painted from a photograph, and I like to carry that through.

I keep travel sketchbooks because you really have more of an opportunity to capture the feeling and gesture of a place, more so than in a photograph. The simplicity of the travel log, being able to do sketches, is nice for your own voice, capturing it straight from life, versus from a photograph. You really take the time to sit and look at it, unlike with a photograph. You're soaking in all of the details and the smells. Revisiting forgotten and dusty ideas in your sketchbook can be inspiring.

Travel Sketchbook

The painting below is from an illustrated journal I kept in Moux, France. These trees are specific to that region; they have such personality, are so tall, and they're ominous in the dark sky. I've used these trees lots and lots of times in other work.

Tree Painting 

Below is a pencil sketch of my husband, Josh. We were on the top of a double decker bus going to Barcelona taking a city tour. I thought, "What a cool moment to capture Josh on his first time out of the country." It was so awesome watching him watch everything....He was sitting still long enough for me to draw him.

Pencil Sketch of Josh Martin

Sometimes I sketch people I don't know. Once in Union Square Park in NYC, I saw a beautiful African American woman wearing a fabulous dress and sitting on a bench reading a book. She sat there for an hour and a half, and I just drew her. She never knew.

Mostly I do figures from life and from life models and cityscapes and landscapes. Those are my favorite things to paint.

These artichokes grew in my friend's garden in Moux, France, and I painted them in the summer of 2010. She grows all of her own food and feeds artists that stay there. (We ate artichokes from this same garden!)

Artichokes in a Painting Sketchbook

When I was asked to do the the East Aurora Co-Op community mural in the summer of 2011, I went back to my sketchbooks and painted the larger-than-life artichokes you see below. I often go back to sketchbooks when working on murals or picture books for artists are often attracted to the same colors and subject matter. When you draw and paint regularly, you all end up drawing a lot of the same things again and again; they tend to resurface in your work.. These things are a reflection of you and the life that you've lived and where you've been.

Artichokes in the East Aurora Community Mural

I did the below sketch in the town of Ceret, France, an active artist's colony on the border of Spain. I enjoyed the extreme angles of it and the way that it cut up the composition. It was so much more interesting than cutting straight across. I look for things that cut through the landscape like that.

Buildings in a Sketchbook

When I worked on the East Aurora mural, this hilly image came up again from my mind-files. Images do get filed, like an image library up there that you end up tapping, often subconsciously. You can go back and realize that you tapped it, but you may not realize it at the time. I am actually incorporating this hill in a new mural I'm painting at the public library in Elma, NY.

Hills & Buildings in the East Aurora Community Mural

In the two images below, you will again see a connection between a sketchbook and one of my paintings. This drawing is in pen and ink, and because I am a studio artist, I will fully develop paintings in my studio. Most of my work is like this as I am not a plein air painter.

Alley of Trees in a Sketchbook

Sketch into Painting

Illustrating a book that someone else has written requires that you think about the whole arc of the story, the whole plot of it. You have to think a lot bigger, concept-wise. You have a lot more opportunity to tell a story in a book than you do in a painting where you only have one shot. In a book, you have a succession of images that you get to use so you can give a lot more information in your composition.

Sketches are necessary in illustrating a book so everyone involved with the making of the book can see the direction it's going. It's like having your underwear on display.

A Pile of Sketches from THE SCARIEST DREAM EVER

If you want to keep a sketchbook, find paper you love and pens and markers that flow beautifully. Make your material an inspiration; materials are your tools. And most definitely write and draw every day.

I love paper with texture and all different types of pens and markers and felt tips and charcoal, and I'm really a pig-pen about whatever's there and just smoodging it around and making it into something. There's no rhyme or reason to it.

It's important to explore lots of different materials to draw with. You will be amazed by how much differently you draw depending on the materials and your dexterity. Experiment with what you're craving, and make art it like no one is looking.

Enjoy it. Let it reflect the life you love.

A professional artist for many years, Alixandra Martin has traveled throughout the U.S. and Europe studying and creating art. Her recent endeavors include illustrating the award winning children's book, THE SCARIEST DREAM EVER. Born on the west coast of Florida in Sarasota, Alix spent her early years painting and drawing in the marinas and observing all the creative eccentricities of the local artists of Towles Court, the artist colony near her childhood home. As an adult, she studied art education and taught painting at the Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota.

Alix hosts regular art travel trips to Western Europe where she explores different regions and the history of art in a particular area where she teachers and attends workshops. Her murals can be found in San Francisco, California; Olonzac, France; The Florida Keys; and redFISH Art Studios and Gallery in East Aurora, N.Y., the gallery and studios she founded in 2002.

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1 comment:

  1. Very interesting! Thank you for sharing the connections and patterns and leaps-of-thought in your notebooks with us.


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