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Artists Spotlight August 2020: Dianne Martin

Written by Elinore Schnurr

For many years, Dianne Martin has been primarily a printmaker, making her initial images on an etching press using natural elements like leaves and weeds. The focus of her work has always been on the natural world. Her studio has been in Long Island City since 1983.

August Wild, 2019, Monotypes w/other materials, colored pencil, collage. pastel, 20" X 16"

Blue January, 2019, Monotypes w/other materials, colored pencil, collage, pastel, 20" X 16"


The following pieces were made by arranging a collection of vines roughly in a circle, printed in a reddish oil-based ink on heavy weight hot press watercolor paper on the artist’s etching press. Martin made many prints of the same vines as they moved around and began to disintegrate. At that point, she began to select and develop individual prints by working on top of the prints with other materials, primarily colored pencils. As Martin was working on this series, the coronavirus hit – and the pieces became her diary for March and April. They were totally absorbing and many times draining. They are fairly large, about 22” x 26” or more. I worked on them pinned to the wall, and the color, other than the color of the original print, is colored pencil, and layering the colored pencil was a great deal of physical work. - Dianne Martin


So after finishing the above prints, which proved to have been quite demanding, Martin experienced a large change of focus and subject. She decided she just wanted to work in paint and, quite specifically, gouache paint. This is a watercolor paint with dextrin added for extra body. It is exceptionally fluid and worked beautifully on the same hot press paper she had been using for her prints. I was entranced with the paint itself and what it did as it flooded the paper and dried over a period of time. I was literally ‘watching the paint dry’ with minimally added control of touch. Sometimes colored pencil or paint was added to complete the process.

Dianne Martin, Unknown Place #1, 2020, Watercolor & gouache

Dianne Martin, Unknown Place #3, 2020, Watercolor & gouache

Dianne Martin, Unknown Place #5, 2020, Watercolor & gouache

Martin thinks of these images as landscapes or waterscapes, with working titles of “Unknown Place.” Perhaps that is their attraction in this time of quarantine and continuing limitations. New experiments become journeys to new places.

I doubt that I will be giving up working on the press - that has been a meaningful part of my work for many years but before I was a printmaker I was a painter - and perhaps It is time to return to my roots. - Dianne Martin

Artists never give up. They just move over and roll on!

Visit Dianne Martin's website here


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