Inside the Studio: Martin Webb (United States)


unnamed-4One of the first things you notice in Martin Webb’s studio is a sign that reads: “Create like a child, edit like a scientist.” He works on multiple paintings simultaneously, influenced by his thoughts about people, places, and the natural world; a recent work was inspired by Woody Guthrie’s classic “This Land Is Your Land.” His process involves mixing pigments, painting many layers onto canvases, sanding particular areas, sometimes incorporating found objects, and always experimenting and editing. Bonus: watch Martin speak about his practice in the video below.

unnamed-1Martin’s sketchbooks.

What are the major themes you pursue in your work?
Thoughts about people, places, and home; about age, time, and timelessness; permanence and impermanence; about movement, migration, and belonging.

unnamed-3Artist’s materials. 


unnamed-7Artist’s paintbrushes.

What was the best advice given to you as an artist?
Art school left me with the mistaken belief that content should come first—that you developed concepts and ideas that would then be realized in some grand piece of work. Of course, that’s a horribly intimidating and restricting way to approach making visual art. Some years later I went to a talk by the British painter Tom Wood who explained that he “painted to find the idea.” He followed his visual instinct, trusting that the conceptual content would emerge along the way. Hearing that was incredibly liberating and really helped set me off on the track I’ve been on ever since.

unnamedAnother glimpse into Martin’s sketchbooks. 

Prefer to work with music or in silence?
Usually music. Often KALX Berkeley college radio or a long shuffling playlist so I don’t have to make soundtrack decisions while I’m working. Sometimes NPR or podcasts are good, too.

unnamed-10Martin working on a canvas. 

If you could only have one piece of art in your life, what would it be?
Today, it’s The Artist and His Mother by Arshile Gorky, but tomorrow it’ll probably be something different.

unnamed-2Some works in progress. 

Who are your favorite writers?
Recently I’ve enjoyed Aravind Adiga and Junot Diaz. Mark Richard’s short stories are a perennial favorite. I recently read David Sylvester’s interviews with Francis Bacon which are full of razor sharp insights into the process of making paintings. Bacon was very articulate and quotable!

unnamed-9More works in progress inside Martin’s studio.  

unnamed-6Works in progress inside Martin’s studio. 

unnamed-5Artworks on exhibition. 

her diamond deserts“Her Diamond Deserts”



Jacob Lawrence's Shovel“Jacob Lawrence’s Shovel”

Arshile with a Flashlight“Arshile with a Flashlight”




  1. Hi Martin, love your ‘best advice given’ answer I totally agree. Your artworks on exhibiton looks amazing, you made a facinating world in the space, I love it. Good on you*

  2. Irena says:

    Thank you for the video, it`s really powerful!

  3. Bill Bodge says:

    Love the materials and technique and the texture created. I’d love to be able to sand my paintings. I think it would be a nice surface for graffiti art. The ability to sand down to images below.

  4. John Neyland says:

    Really enjoyed your “inside the artist studio”. Especially impressive is the amount of production capacity that you and your studio illustrates and is possible from the pictures! Great stuff ! keep up the charge! Thank you. JOHN

  5. Nice interview with the video to finish off the “visit” into your world.
    You speak clearly about your techniques that you use.
    There’s a sense of calm and flatness in your paintings. I like the trees that remind me of woodcuts as they are very deliberate or even ‘designed’. The ghost silhouettes of the girl and other personages is really good.

  6. Jim Harris says:

    Really interesting work.

  7. Ashvin says:

    Adobe shelters of color and stories California reminiscing and Bart trains
    love your work.

  8. Thank you for sharing, Martin.
    I really enjoy your work and your process.

  9. Edward Franco says:

    Thank you for sharing your insights and your techniques.
    I’ve sanded and scraped on canvas in the past and now you’ve given me new directions.
    On my way to Stanford to view your work………… much success.


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