About

 

 

Hi there, I’m Martha Lee  Anne, but my close friends  and family call me “MLA.”  I’m an accidentally made  abstract artist living in  Birmingham, Alabama with my husband, Bastien, and my son, Henry.

My journey to painting  began in 2019 after using  leftover house paint to  create my first abstract. It wasn’t beautiful, but it felt  like a small victory in the middle of a not-so-favorite story. At 31, I was 3 years into life as a widow and single mama and had   already made war on the monkey grass and red clay in a garden project to “work it out.” And then one day in 2020, life handed me another blank canvas…

In the beginning, painting was messy. Sometimes it was love and pain and grief and disappointment and memory coming together at the end of a paintbrush. Other times, it was like floating on my back at the lake in the summers- perfectly peaceful. Today, painting is my way of reaching into barefoot days or a walk with my husband through the vineyard behind his family home. In many ways, the act of painting has brought me home- to my Creator, to myself, to my life, and to the truth that wonderful things often happen when we keep going (both in life and on the canvas). 

Today, I paint dreamy neutral abstracts in an open studio in the garage of my home- usually while sipping on hot tea and listening to Ben Rector. Sometimes Henry pops in to gives me coffee breaks in-between rounds on his scooter on a Saturday, but most of the time, Walden (the pug) sleeps on a bed nearby while I soak up the joy of remembering and expressing the best moments of life.

There is magic, comfort, and gravity in our ordinary lives. 

 

 

Artist Statement

There is often a private, almost sacred freedom that we experience when we are home- when we return to the people, places, memories, and moments that bring us fully and wholly to ourselves. Playing with my child, eating sorbet by the sea, walking with my husband, pruning roses, remembering days of running in my Big Daddy's garden, closing my eyes to pray between sips of coffee- these are the ordinary landscapes, moments, and memories that I paint. I paint in acrylic layers, first with rollers and paint brushes, usually giving in totally to the floating in water feeling I get when painting- adding more texture and depth intentionally with pallets knives and oil sticks as the painting takes shape. These warm, textured layers are nostalgic for me- reminding me of my my favorite antiques and the chipped shutters in Ouveillan. In the last layers, I work mostly with oil stick- applying thickly to introduce an earthy, almost clay-like texture. I try not to be afraid of making mistakes or of allowing the painting to change or to move me in another direction-one way or another, in this layer or the next, I trust that every painting will find its own way home. I leave pencil marks- lines and circles- like a “dear” and “love” written from someone we know and trust.  For all of their complex layers, many of the paintings are so calm, they might as well be sitting in total contentment, as if to say, “Yes, here I am.” And I don’t know if there’s a better thing for a painting to say or a better feeling to have when looking at one.