This month's Curator's Choice is Ned Martin's Spirits Through Time VIII. It is made with oil paint and aluminum on panel, and features metallic elements, layered mixed media and grey, painted sides. Read on to learn why this transitional piece, which captures two women in a highly abstracted environment, is this month's Choice.
What It's About
Part of Ned Martin's Spirits Through Time series, this month's Curator's Choice is filled with deep meaning and symbolism.
"I began my portrait series when the COVID lockdown started," Martin says in reference to this series. "Our airline stopped flying and I was stranded in Bolivia for six months. I began painting female figures during that time of reflection, because I had recently lost my mother and sister. For me, it's about honoring the women who have come and gone throughout all time, so many of whom are forgotten."
In Spirits Through Time VIII, "intentional" is the key word. "When I paint," Martin explains, "I often turn off any distracting outside sounds - I don't listen to news, music etc. Instead, I play nature sounds like rain or birds. I move towards the opposite of intention. Ideally, I go close to a meditative state or stillness of mind and trust in the marks I make with paint. This state of flow yields many surprises that I cannot explain. The blindfold in this piece just occurred to me suddenly and I found myself making a line across the eyes of one of the figures with white paint. Only after someone made a comment about how it restricted the figure, did I say, 'No, it's not about restricting - it's about enhancing all the other senses.'"
Where It Works
Spirits Through Time VIII measures 48" x 32", making it a relatively large piece. While it primarily features warm yellow and red tones, the artist also incorporates cool blue AND metallic accents, and mixed media that creates unique texture. It can add warmth to a neutral white or beige room, offset a cool-toned room, or balance earth tones. No matter what, though, because of the conceptual nature of and symbolism within this piece, we love it in an area of the home that gets plenty of foot traffic, as well as viewing time and space. A living room or dining room, or even an office, will present the viewer with the time they might feel they need to spend with it, to engage and connect with it - deciphering all the details of the piece for themselves, and maybe even sparking discussion with others.
Why We Love It
The evolution of Ned Martin's style and subject matter has been deeply informed by his personal experience and the events that have unfolded at crucial moments throughout his adult life. We love Spirits Through Time VIII not only for how it demonstrates Martin's signature transitional style which pairs representational forms with abstracted environments, but for what it represents. The women Martin portrays, inspired by those he has known, are often noble, historical, and feminine - he freezes them in time, embodied by what he communicates clearly as both softness and strength. Martin presents us with this in Spirits Through Time VIII especially, with lush texture, ethereal subjects, and details steeped in deep meaning. But he doesn't particularly challenge the viewer to get lost in this piece - it's as though he simply invites it.
Located in Brooklyn, Ned Martin is inspired by hectic city life. His work touches on the subjects of nature and community, which are drawn from his childhood memories of rural Pennsylvania and Northern Maryland. Martin’s work is a commentary on the global society, and the idea that everything is connected as one. After studying Fine Arts at Towson State University in Maryland, Martin continued his formal art training at the Schuler School of Fine Arts in Baltimore. Embracing his training and his meticulous process, Martin grinds his own paints. He has painted en plein air on the River Seine in Paris, Scotland, and Italy, all of which have shaped his artistic vision.
Reclaimed aluminum printing plates have become Martin’s sole painting surface. He often leaves a bit of aluminum plate visible through the painted surface to enhance the depth of the work. To view Martin's full biography, click here.
“I have long believed artists are like mirrors," Ned says. "My job is to reflect that which others are missing while they go about their busy lives. I somehow wish my paintings were less biased, yet, my own emotions from life experiences are in every painting I create. While I still struggle with the idea, I must be completely honest that every painting is a self-portrait.”
See more about Spirits Through Time VIII here or shop all work by Ned Martin on his Artist Collection page. Spirits Through Time VIII can also be purchased as a customizable limited edition print here. Please be aware that while prints are created using very high quality image captures, the surface texture of the original is "flattened" when purchasing a print.
Want to learn more about Ned Martin? Read our Conscious Creative discussion with Ned last year, where we talked about how he approaches sustainable practices in the studio.
We paired our Curator's Choice with Orion's Belt, a sculpture by Joe Sorge. See all artwork by this abstract sculptor.