Wonders Under the Dock
Martha Dodd paints what she loves, combining passions into beautiful works
Very few artists can portray their imaginative worlds like Martha Dodd can. With impeccable control of the brush, she transforms acrylics and oils into magnificent and powerful scenes of beauty. Mermaids and unicorns are among the protagonists of her fantastic, pictorial tales.
Born in Columbus, Ohio, Dodd received a great deal of encouragement from her mother, Joan Waterson, to pursue her talents. Waterson was an art teacher and visual artist as well, and thus sparked her young artist daughter’s imagination even further.
Even though Dodd did not pursue formal education in art, she found a clever way to combine her academic and creative talents. In the winter of 1983, she obtained a bachelor’s degree in animal sciences from the Ohio State University. Dodd then began her career as an equine physical therapist, working on racehorses. During college, however, she took as many art classes as possible, knowing that was the best way to use all of her talents toward a fulfilling life.
Throughout the years, Dodd continued practicing and developing an extensive body of art, which includes lovely underwater scenes and other maritime subjects. In 2010, she started studying with master painter Douglas Flynt, who also resides in Southwest Florida.
She admires the level of realism achieved by Flynt in his paintings, but Dodd does not follow the strictness of his creative process. “I am not disciplined enough to always follow his methods, and every time I make a rule for myself, I break it,” she explains.
Dodd has impressive control of her medium, as demonstrated by works such as the beautiful Marilyn Monroe piece that she donated to the Arts for ACT auction in November 2014. “The lessons stay with me, and I find the influence evident in my work,” Dodd adds. She also trained with artist Stephen Assael, whose approach to painting contrasts from Flynt’s approach, yet achieves an incredible realism as well.
Dodd can and has painted almost every imaginable subject, including people, animals, flowers and landscapes. Her versatility is admirable. And there is something particularly captivating about her underwater portrayals. “I chose the underwater subjects, such as the mermaids, because of my interest in fantasy art,” states the artist, whose work can be found in DAAS CO-OP Art Gallery & Gifts in Fort Myers.
Dodd wants the spectator to go beyond the typical mermaid scene and wonder about the story behind the subject.
Every time I make a rule for myself, I break it.” —Artist Martha Dodd
“I like the challenge of creating realism out of something that I have no reference for,” she adds. Dodd explains that she does rely on references, but has to merge images in her mind to create such fantastic subjects.
Her painting Surprise Under the Dock is a striking depiction of a young-looking mermaid, under a dock, staring at the observer with enchanting eyes. The work demonstrates the remarkable composition control and style of the artist. Dodd wants the spectator to go beyond the typical mermaid scene and wonder about the story behind the subject. She achieves this by allowing other elements in the painting to stand out and suggest a situation.
“This is the first piece I have painted of a mermaid awake—I guess because painting mermaids is a risky proposition,” Dodd says. “I don’t want to portray them as being overtly sexual, although they definitely have appeal, and I want them to be as natural as possible. This mermaid is warming herself in the late afternoon sun, as busy fiddler crabs scurry about.”
Visual artist and art teacher Ellen Bianchi knows Dodd’s artwork well. “She captures the feeling of being in the water with her [paintings of] mermaids,” notes Bianchi, who serves as treasurer of DAAS COOP. She has admired Dodd’s style since Dodd began exhibiting at the cooperative. “The fluid movement and the mastery of the artist is what make these mermaids come to life,” Bianchi says.
On Dodd’s website, followyourartllc.com, she offers a variety of options for purchasing her works. Collectors can browse through hundreds of exquisite images and purchase prints of her pieces in various sizes.
When asked about her art and future plans, Dodd tells us: “For many years I have relied on my art to support myself, and still do, so I was not always able to paint what I wanted to. In the past few years, I have had the good fortune to travel the world, and I have come away with so much inspiration.
“I have many more works of art to create and I look forward to a prolific time of painting in my life,” Dodd adds. And we certainly look forward to many more of her beautiful creations. David Acevedo is an award-winning visual artist, arts writer, curator and gallery owner living in Cape Coral. He has a bachelor’s degree in visual arts from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus, and owns and manages the Union Artist Studios and DAAS CO-OP Art Gallery & Gifts.
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