About the Artist

Contact Info

Marty Maehr
Ann Arbor, Michigan

Background

I grew up in Urbana, Illinois and with the exception of one year when my family lived in Tehran, Iran (my father's sabbatical leave from the University of Illinois led him there for cross-cultural research in 1973-74), I have lived in the Midwest United States. I was fortunate to have an opportunity at age 7 to start taking art classes at the University of Illinois Children's Art Program taught by art students. I also had very good teachers at Urbana Junior High and Urbana High School who encouraged me to draw, paint, and think freely.

I went to college at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota with an initial intention of being a pre-med student. During some tough years when I was kind of lost — unsure what I wanted to do — the color spectrum and the artistic process became more valuable to me as a means of making sense of my life. I had problems fitting into the conventional program at St. Olaf and was fortunate that they had an alternative program (the Paracollege) that allowed students to create their own major. Although I wasn't an art major, I was able to work individually with Professor Maakestad who encouraged me to cultivate and develop my own style. While at St. Olaf, I created a major that dealt with the development of the Ideas of Liberty, Liberation and Interdependence. After graduating in 1985, I spent the next five years in Minneapolis, MN. Still unsure of a career, I worked as a roofer with friends who started Morningside Construction Co. and continued to draw and paint when I could. I also worked as a picture framer, which provided an oppurtunity to mat and frame my own pieces.

In 1990 I moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan. I picked up a part time job at Pictures Plus as a matcutter, and, also a job as a tennis instructor at Liberty Sports Complex (now Liberty Athletic Club). I had played tennis at St. Olaf College and was glad to get back to tennis and my job as a teacher has grown to a full-time position. I'm currently a full-time tennis teaching professional and tennis coordinator at Liberty Athletic Club. My job allows me the freedom to read and paint in the mornings which I do on a daily basis. Though I no longer work at Pictures Plus, I'm grateful for the work they continue to do framing my pieces.

A Few Words About The Artwork

Although I have taken art classes since I was 7, my teachers have encouraged me to develop freely as an artist. I've been only loosely connected with art programs and consider myself a self-taught artist. I have an avid interest in the work of other painters, but I think I have been influenced more by philosophers than painters. My hope has been to develop a sincere, genuine form of expression, even if unconventional.

I try to let my artwork develop naturally — not forcing a pre-conceived idea to a conclusion. Most of my pieces have begun with a strongly felt line or lines which have suggested other lines, shapes and colors. The color spectrum has become a language for me, and the Idea of Art seems to lead me towards something just a little bit different.

Since my years in college, I've tended to work with vivid color. For 20 years I primarily worked with Prismacolor colored pencils, painting with watercolors and oils on occasion. Since 2000, I have almost exclusively been painting with oil. I do most of my work on primed masonite boards and primed canvas. My paintings begin with pencilled (and colored pencilled) suggestions of lines that lead to paint. I'm still not exactly sure what I'm doing, but I've learned to enjoy and trust the process as it unfolds.

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