Martha Hayden
Go Paint, 2019

 Above: The display of my work at  the Pablo Center, Eau Claire, Wisconsin

I was honored to be the judge at this year's "Go Paint!"  After a difficult week of working through rain and cold, about 145 paintings were completed and turned in for the exhibition. I was pleased to see the artists useing a variety of approaches to working outside, not just the ordinary attempts at impressionism. It was hard to choose which to honor.

I want to emphasize that painting is not a competitive sport, and that plein air painting is not exempt from the considerations of all painting. It has the added responsibility to be spontaneous but not slick and to capture a sense of place and light. The priorities in my work are color, composition, and a kind of empathy for the motif, and my selections are based on that aesthetic.

Anders Schafer, Fall Creek, Honorable Mention
This large, intrically worked and complex painting combines many levels of thinking and seeing. Brush strokes coalese  into larger masses which again break up and recombine into more shapes.It is a beautiful example of complex surface and shallow controlled depth.

Barbara Schafer, Currents, Honorable Mention
This painting/drawing is a study of planes in rocks and water. The charcoal defines edges and  sets up movements, while the warm and cool watercolor tones knot in the center to create solidity and depth. The bare parts are carefully considered and lend scale to the drawing.

Janice Roberts, Cells of Big Falls, Honorable Mention
This study of rocks and water uses styalized planes to create movement and depth. The green plant at the right edge plays against the green plant in the middle and the green trees in the back to create a counter movement and establish depth.

Tim Syring, Altoona Dam Fishing, Honorable Mention
This painting uses only burnt sienna and ultramarine. The rocks are loosly outlined and then made solid with warm and cool tones. The standing man lends both stability and scale.

Dalan Hartmann, Water Logged, Honorable Mention
This imaginative painting is done from mind rather than nature. The artist has used what is there, but seen it through his own lens. The shapes in the water are especially intriging.

Joseph Maurer, Forest Hills Community Garden @Leaves of Grass, Honorable Mention
This painting is made over collaged pages from Whitman's poem. I think the collage elements work here compositionally as they lead in and repeat the geometry of the structure. Conceptually, I would like the poem and the image aligned.

Jean Accola, Big Coulee Spring, Honorable Mention
This is nicely and spontaneously paint, just what a plein air study should be. The blues shade into purple, light in the sky, dark in the water. The light yellow green is the perfect foil for the purple.

Maureen Skroski, Water Under the Bridge, Honorable Mention
This is a pastel with limited palette. There is nice variety in the strokes in the water. The simplicity of the bridge pilings, done in warm and cool planes, stabalize the composition and keep it from being fussy.

Jean Accola,  Grand Ave. Bikes, HonorableMention
Diagonals are what make this painting work. The light diagonal at the bottom leads in, the diagonals on the right lead up and the pole on the left, vertical, but not quite, complete the space.The just indicated stairway makes a space for the bikes to occupy, and the bikes are painted just enough to be believable.

Susan Estill, Pablo Center at Twilight, Best of Pablo Center at the Confluence
This tiny painting is just postcard size. The river at the front and the center itself are just shapes. The color of the river, keyed to the color of the building is startling.

Keary Kautze, Dells Mill, Best Dam Painting, sponsored by Excel Energy
This transparent watercolor is traditional, but requires another look. The wash of the sky and the edge of green trees, are repeated strongly in the water. The lights and darks are very well handled. The Three lights, the orange on the left, the blue water and the red barn play well against the shape made by the trees and their reflections. The barn is at once, both dark and light, and with its reflection makes a strong rectangle that holds the composition. The balance of stronger red against muted green is lovely.

Darlan Hartmann, Future, Best River
This painting has great scale. The foreground tree plays against the backfround trees and a great deal of distance is created with simple means.

Jason Anhorn, Little Footbridge at Rod and Gun Club, Third Prize
The blue line in this painting is intriguing. It is bold and dareing, almost goes too far, but stops at just the right point. It is helped by having areas that are not line, and by areas which are solid blue.

Wendy Schaefer-Miles, Spring River Vista, Second Prize
The intriguing path leads into the painting, we get back to the bridge, the trees make a screen that bring us back around. Eye movements are well handled here. There are many different brush strokes, they command attention to the surface. It feels almost like a weaving, the trees are the warp, the blues and green the weft and the orange leaves, little embroideries.

Susan Klem, Dells Mill Minus a Few Items, First Place
This small canvas is filled by a big red shape: the mill which she has been bold enough to crop.
It is simple and direct and as the title indicates things have been left out.

Jan Balow, Storm Coming, Best of Show
I like everything about this painting. The proportion of river and land to the sky. The drama of the one tree. the many varied strokes of color in the river and bank, and especially the clouds. The movements in this painting are clear. The river diagonal takes us in, the slightly angled tree pushes us up, and the dramatic clouds bring us out, and cover the land.


Photos from Open Studio 2018

We had quite a day on Saturday, with snow, 50 mph plus winds, a tree down in front of the house, and a live wire crackling in the road. After that, the power was off until late that night. Thanks to all good sports who came anyway; it was fun looking at paintings with cell phone flashlights. We got hot coffee from Ed's house in another part of town and carried on. Sunday was beautiful, and we had both lights and heat!

and my new etching press!

Martha Hayden to hold Open Studio Exhibition

          Painter Martha Hayden will open her home and studio in Sharon, Wisconsin, for her annual studio exhibition, Saturday and Sunday, October 20 and 21, from 12 to 5 p.m. Located at 143 Prairie St., the home is a historic Victorian built in the 1870s. Ms. Hayden began painting in 1954 and moved to Sharon in 1962. More than 50 years of work will be displayed throughout the house, including landscapes painted in Michigan, New York, Wisconsin, France, on the ring of Kerry in Ireland, and in Vilnius, Lithuania, along with still life, figure painting, etchings and woodcuts.
           After moving from her New York studio last year, she set up a print shop in her Sharon studio.  Visitors will be able to see her etching press, and there will be an exhibit explaining the etching process. The plates used to make etchings and the blocks used for woodcuts will be on display.

          This year Hayden's work won awards at printmaking exhibitions in Indiana, Colorado and Virginia. Her work was featured in New York City in exhibits at The National Arts Club, The Old Print Shop and Central Booking. The Wesserburg Museum in Bremen, Germany  and the Harvard University Library purchased her artist books and The University of Wisconsin Library at Milwaukee and The University of Wisconsin College of Liberal Arts, Madison acquired works She had a one-person exhibition at Columbia College (MO)and is included in a new book, “Artist’s Homes and Studios” by E. Ashley Rooney.
         Two large allegorical paintings (70 x 54 inches) shown at ART PRIZE will be among others exhibited. They are part of a series that references the "History of Art" combined through the eyes of the artist; using self portraits, contemporary landscape and "quoted" historical images.

About Martha Hayden
    Martha Hayden is a graduate of the school of the Art Institute of Chicago. She studied with the Expressionist painter Oskar Kokoschka on a fellowship from the Art Institute of Chicago.  She has painted in Europe, Mexico, and Africa. Hayden’s work is in over 2500 collections worldwide, including The British Museum in London, The Museo do Arte Moderno in Sao Paulo, Brazil, the Brooklyn Museum in New York, and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Corporate collectors include Ameritech in Chicago, Metro-tech in Minneapolis, General Telephone in Indianapolis, Frito-Lay in Dallas, and The Hyatt Residency in Hilton Head (NC).


More Plein Air: Cedarburg, State Fair, and the Steam Power Show in Sussex

My daughter, Mary Kathleen, and I spent 4 days or so in Cedarburg , staying at the Washington House Inn. It’s an interesting historic hotel. We had a room on the 2nd floor with a lot of windows looking over the main street. In the mornings they had lovely breakfasts with home made coffee cake and other goodies. There is a lot of subject matter within walking distance; a dam, a 5 story mill, and a main street full of stone building,. Mary Kathleen was pleased to sell her painting of the mill; her second sale on our summer trips. This was our third trip to Cedarburg together.

This is my painting of the Cedar Creek Mill, photograph above. The water simply dissappears, although you can hear it fall. This massive mill, built in 1855,  dominates the landscape. It is limestone, some of it quarried on site. The monitor roof is divided with clerestory windows. Most of the original 12 over 12 light sashes remain. The lower walls are 32 inches thick.

Here is the falls from the other side.

Cedarburg was founded in the 1840’s and many of its limestone and cream brick buildings are relatively unchanged. Washington Street is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, with over 100 building considered significant. Mostly they house coffee shops and botiques, so if you need to buy any ordinary thing you have to drive out a bit.

The first day, a Sunday, they had everyone painting on the main street.   This is the Lehmann Hardware Store, 1874, and the Louis Hoehn Residence, built 1870. The third floor of the hardware store was a Lodge Hall.

One of my favorite motifs is the Last Covered Bridge; I keep returning to it.

Here is Mary working on her painting.
I thought it might rain, so I set up inside.

This was the next day.

This bridge was built by the Town of Cedarburg, Wisconsin  in 1876 and was known as the "Red Bridge."  The original span measured 120 feet long and 12 feet wide. Building materials were pine logs, cut and milled near Baraboo. Squared timber and planks were hauled to the proposed site on Cedar Creek where the pieces were fitted and set in place. The lattice truss construction consisted of 3-inch-by-10-inch planks secured by 2-inch hardwood pins, eliminating the use of nails or bolts, and floored by 3-inch planking. It is now very rare. 

In 1927, a center abutment was placed to carry the heavier traffic of automobiles and trucks. The bridge was used until 1962. It is the last surviving covered bridge in Wisconsin.

It is always hard to find a place to set up, and there is a lot of equipment to schlep. Here I was fortunate to find a bench, in the shade, and just at the right angle..

Thank you Charles Conto, the eagle scout who put it there.

There was Plein Air painting at the Wisconsin State Fair on Monday and Tuesday. Monday, it was raining hard, and I wandered around the barns looking for a spot to paint inside.

I settled on these two steers. Later, I was very surprised to be awarded "Best Dairy Animal" for this painting titled "Meat Barn."

I really enjoyed the Steam Power Show in Sussex, Wisconsin. I had no idea there were steam powered lawn movers, separators, and washing machines. There was a steam powered sawmill, sawing logs. There were several working thrashing machines, and I found out why the belts are so long. It is to keep the steam engine away from the grain and chaff. Here is a steam powered Case tractor.

Laurel, Mississippi, the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art and “The Power of Color.”

This spring, I visited my daughter Bridget Hayden, a professor of anthropology at USM in Hattiesburg. We went to nearby Laurel, Mississippi. Laurel is the capitol of Jones County, which once tried to secede from the Confederacy.
Laurel grew after the railroad came in 1881 and timber could be exported. As family members of the mill owners grew up and married, houses were built as wedding presents. Getting a house was a tradition, but the houses were always the very latest style, and incorporated the newest conveniences. Laurel’s historic district is a product of the timber era (1893-1937), and is considered “the largest, finest, and most intact” collection of early 20th century architecture in Mississippi. There is a brochure available describing the houses and mapping a walking tour.
The Lauren Rogers Museum of Art is in the home built for Lauren Rogers who died in 1921 at the age of 23. His family finished it and expanded it as a museum in his memory. It is Georgian Revival in style and features quarter sawn oak paneling, cork floors, and extensive iron work.
The most impressive exhibits are the Native American baskets representing 81 North American tribes, collected by Lauren Rogers’s great aunt, Catherine Gardiner and donated to the museum in 1923. Very interesting are Japanese wood block prints and a set of blocks that illustrate the printing process. A collection of paintings by Mississippi artists was also on display. 


On the lower level there was a traveling exhibition,”The Power of Color.” It featured the work of three contemporary artists working in the south, who use strong color. I found it heartening that these artists have been able to make a life and a living for themselves in serious art, though they live and work far from the usual “art centers.”

Kevin Cole of Atlanta, GA uses twisting and curling canvas, influenced by Frank Stella, which reference jazz and deal with traumatic events, both present and historical.



Sisavanh Phouthavong-Houghton, Agent Orange, oil, 48 x 48

Sisavanh Phouthavong-Houghton emigrated from Laos at the age of four. Through hard edges and strong contrasts of shapes and colors, she explores violent memories of her homeland. She lives, works and teaches in Kansas.


Carl Joe Williams, Yea Though I walk, mixed media on door,88 x 37

I liked best the work of Carl Joe Williams who uses materials found on the streets of New Orleans to create innovative mixed media works incorporating music and television to address social justice issues.  His four paintings on doors are an impressive combination of painterliness with a sophisticated recall of 1930’s realism that works well with his social messages.

The exhibition was beautifully displayed and was an exciting and unexpected addition to a nice afternoon spent in Laurel.

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