No Straight Lines 50″x36″ 2019 by Paula Martiesian
I’m happiest in my studio. It’s both a safe cocoon and a creative laboratory that allows me to experiment with almost anything. There are no computers or cell phones to bother me and my mind wanders free, unencumbered with to-do lists or appointments. My dog is my most frequent companion and the sole intruder. She brings in a parade of toys until she finds one that entices me to play with her.
This painting, No Straight Lines, is from a view out my studio window. The windows are north-facing and sit high above the floor. I have to climb up on a wooden flat file to see outside. Often, the view is spectacular providing inspiration for several of my paintings, including this one.
Paulownia, the Princess Tree 2016 36”x50”
It’s no secret that I paint slowly. I compare my painting method to a child’s progress wandering down a street, stopping every few feet to turn over some odd rock or explore someone else’s yard. That’s how I paint. An idea pops into my head and I follow it until it concludes, sometimes successfully, sometimes not. Despite the frequent detours, my final paintings look surprisingly like the original concepts that inspired them.
Paulownia, the Princess Tree is one of my favorite trees and the subject of the painting pictured above. It’s considered a weed tree in America, but is a valued specimen tree in its native China. In its youth, the tree is often confused with a catalpa as the leaves are similar, but the blossoms and seeds pods are quite different.
I love the perfume of the beautiful lavender flowers and the seedpods that look like a distant cousin to kiwi fruit. The young wood is hollow and breaks easily. The resulting wounds and scars left on the tree bark intrigue me and were the basis for the painting.
The scarred trunk looked very much like a pen-and-ink drawing and I wanted to capture that feeling and contrast it with the vibrant landscape surrounding it. Originally I had hoped to paint the tree in shades of black, white and grey, but that idea didn’t work – the tree stood out too much from the rest of the painting. I wandered around exploring different solutions until I finally added some muted greens, mauve and soft browns to the tree.