Abstract Works by Marty Elmer

November 4-23, 2016
Abstract Works by Marty Elmer
Opening reception: Friday, November 4, 5:00-9:00 PM

Exhibition hours are Monday-Friday, 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Please note, the Emporium is closed Thursday-Friday, November 24-25, for the holiday.


My studio is in a garage that we converted several years ago. Before having this space available my studio was anywhere I settled to paint.

I was born in Houston, TX on June 7, 1936 and moved back to Tennessee before I was a year old. I graduated from Pi Beta Phi High School in Gatlinburg which included arts and crafts.

I moved to Wenatchee, WA with my husband in 1957, also lived in Seattle where I attended classes at the Cornish School of Art and Ellensburg, WA where I attended Central Washington College in studying art.

I moved back to Knoxville, TN in 1983 and have lived in South Knoxville since then.

Art has always been special to me. I began by drawing people and things at Phi Beta Phi in Gatlinburg, TN. I like to paint still life’s and portraits and abstracts as well as doing mixed media. I use oil, acrylic paints as well as pastels and other media.

For the past few years I have been concentrating on abstracts along with portraits. This type of painting offers me freedom of expression; by this I mean finding a bond between myself and the canvas. I let my thoughts and emotions use my hands and eyes to create the images that appear on the canvas or board. Colors vary in intensity to express my mood at the time of painting.

I hope to influence artistic thought through this show and bring to the other artists who are drawn to this type of expression the freedom to do it their way. This freedom of expression can enhance the viewer’s imagination when it is allowed to absorb the shapes and colors of the painting. Please come and experience my work and let me know what you think of it.

Artist’s Statement & Bio

Being an artist is an experiment,
A life of can I,
Can I draw this,
Can I paint this,
Can I make this,
Can I use this,
Can I, Can I, Can I,
And…you really Can.

Why are you an artist I am Asked? I just remember as a kid copying some girly drawings and I had to put their hands behind their backs. I just could not draw hands but I did learn how to draw hands. Also I would sneak down town and watch one of my teachers do pastel portraits for tourists on the street in Gatlinburg and I would dream.

I went to UT and had Bob Slaugherty for a teacher for several quarters. I got married and moved to Washington State where I went to Cornish School in Seattle, WA. My instructor there recognized me by my southern drawl as he had recently taught at UT. I then went to Central Washington State College where I took art for several years under William Dunning. After college I stayed related to art at a newspaper, an ad agency and a print shop in Washington State and kept painting.

I was a volunteer for ‘The Arts Council’ in the Candy Factory in the 90’s and a member of Tennessee Artists Association and exhibited in some of their shows. I dropped out of TAA for a while but kept painting and had paintings in the Dogwood Arts Festival for three years.

I joined the Arts & Culture Alliance and have been in several of their group shows and been in three of their Mayor’s Exhibitions. I have been active with the TAA again and have shown in their Spring Shows and their juried shows at the Emporium, Denso Gallery at Clayton Center in Maryville, and exhibited at the University of Phoenix gallery, and at the Knoxville Chamber of Commerce, and at the South Knoxville Library.

I call the art I am doing now “Abstract Expressionistic Impressionist Contemporary Art’ and like lots of artists I really don’t know what to call it. I also do realistic work, still life, landscape and portrait/figurative, whatever I want to do, I work in pastel, oil, acrylic, graphite and I mix all the media and use whatever the work calls for.

In much of my recent abstract work, I start with a colored background on canvas or paper and then start drawing with paint. This may be slow and direct or fast and “it” happens. Then I look again and where “it” calls for color, paint, object, paper, pen or whatever “it” tells me what is needed and I do that. I guess that people think I am a little “you know” when I say it, “picture” tells me what it wants or needs. But somehow my hand knows where to go, what to do with the paint or the object used to create that particular entity. Sometimes I just see something interesting that connects to it and I put it on canvas or paper and go from there to incorporate what is needed to go with it. That something may be nothing else or may be much more. As I said earlier, being an artist is an experiment of experimenting, much fun and much frustration.

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