Exhibit examines 'pieces of things'

March 22, 1999

Jane L MartinBy KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI / Staff Writer

photo: KEVIN G. GILBERT / staff photographer

For watercolorist Jane L. Martin, painting is a form of storytelling.

The Cumberland artist describes her work as her "gut-level reaction to the interplay of light and shadow and their relationship to color."

She "tells the story of light," by using varied hues and brush strokes, she said. Twenty-six of the Hagerstown native's works are on display at the Washington County Arts Council Gallery on Potomac Street.

An artist's reception and exhibit opening were held Saturday and Sunday.

A few of Martin's works have been displayed at the Hagerstown gallery since it moved to that location in October, according to director Natoma Reed Vargason.


The current display is her first extensive exhibit.

"I really enjoy her work, the subject matter and the professionalism she brings along with it," said Reed Vargason. The exhibit will be on display through April 17.

Her work on display at the gallery features outdoor scenes of pottery, trees, furniture and nature but no human or animal forms.

Martin's watercolors represent "pieces of things," she said.

The images of a Grecian urn, rocker, terra cotta pots or winding road are portions of larger images that caught her eye, she said.

"My paintings, like a writer's tale are, often rooted in personal experience," she said. "They are usually a response to the places or things that are an intimate part of my life."

Each is about 22 inches by 30 inches.

"I normally come up with a concept in a small form - 2 by 2 inches - and then when I like it, I make it big," she said.

Martin said she uses watercolor for its adaptability.

"I find watercolor a versatile and expressive medium," she said. "I can describe color and value using wispy washes or bold, saturated swatches of color."

Martin said her work as an artist is constantly evolving.

As a student at Duke University, she designed an interdisciplinary program in the zoology and art departments to prepare her for a career in scientific illustration. After working as a freelance illustrator in North Carolina's Research Triangle, she found illustration to be unsatisfying, she said.

Looking to abandon the technical format, she returned to watercolors, she said.

However, Martin's precision inluences can still be seen in the long lines of a rocking chair or the depiction of a wall of bricks in her work displayed at the Washington County Arts Council Gallery.

Martin said she is currently experimenting with different forms of paper surfaces.

In addition to traditional watercolor paper, she uses slick-surfaced illustration board or watercolor paper treated with Gesso, which provides texture.

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