Marta Crawford
Marta Crawford Biography


Marta Crawford was born in Madrid, Spain in 1971. Her fascination with art began at a very early age, learning from her mother, who was an artist herself. With a full academic scholarship, she studied Journalism, Art History and Mass Media Communications at the University Complutense in Madrid. It was not long after, that she decided to travel to The United States to expand her knowledge and in the process, while in the USA, childhood passion finally won and her love for art took over, becoming a full time artist in the early 2000’s. She studied constantly, embarking on a journey of self-discovery focusing on the Portrait and Still-Life genre. Her expressive style is used to convey a bold and energetic realism. Marta’s dramatic use of color, rooted in her European and Mediterranean heritage, has an intense impact on the viewer. She primarily considers herself a portrait painter, “not because portraits are all I paint, but because everything I paint is a portrait. I find beauty in simplicity. It is the essence of people and things that interests me the most. I like to create extraordinary paintings out of ordinary objects. I want to show Hope and Grace amidst the chaos that surrounds us all”. Her latest passion has been Drawing and creating strong, life-like portraits in Charcoal. One of these was awarded 8th Place at The Portrait Society of America, among mostly paintings. In her own words:

“When I create a work in charcoal, very often what inspires me is not a particular person, but a feeling, an emotion or a statement that I am trying to convey. My work reflects what I am feeling at the moment. I have been an oil painter for the past decade, concentrating solely on that medium, but as a child and teenage years I had a passion for drawing, first in pencil and then in charcoal. The past year has been a particularly difficult year for me having to jump over many hurdles, and deal with the extreme difficulties that raising three teenagers often bring. Color has disappeared little by little from my life, but not the overwhelming need to create. This is how my charcoal work started, or how I picked it up from childhood. When I design a piece of work I tend to follow the traditional ways for portraiture: head on top half of the page and focal point in the golden mean area. My favorite lighting is Rembrandt Lightening. This creates strong shadows that sculpt the features and makes the portrait come alive. I don’t like doing many preliminary sketches on paper. Most of my thinking and designing takes place on the computer. I crop images in many different ways with different exposures. My favorite surface for my charcoal work is vellum paper 150 pounds. Since I do not like the stark white appearance of this paper though, I brush off coffee over it to give it an antique look. I feel like an old soul and I like the look of wore out things and people. Once the coffee has dried, I sprinkle charcoal dust over it and play with it till I have a fairly dark and interesting surface to work with. Sometimes I spray acetone over it too for added texture. My process is very abstract and right brained at the beginning. Once I have prepared the paper, I begin to lay down the darks with a sachet filled with loose powder. Then I refine the drawing with extra soft willow charcoal. I take this stage to a fairly finished stage where most of the work is done with my left brain. Once I like what I see and everything is where is supposed to be, I start working with a soft number 6b charcoal pencil. I emphasize all darks and work the piece completely without blending. When this stage is completed, I start refining some areas, especially halftones, by blending with my finger or cotton, and I may blend the eye and nostril area with a paper stump or/and cotton swab. For the strongest and darkest darks, I like to use compressed charcoal. The last stage is my favorite and ironically, is the erasing part. I carve out all my lights with a kneaded eraser first and the sharper and lighter highlights I lift with a pencil eraser. When I get to this phase, I revert back to my right brain where I let the intuitive love and understanding guide the piece to its completion. At the finish stage I work from the heart, not from the brain”.

Her work has been recently included in the books: The Best of Worldwide Oil II and International Contemporary Artists IV. She was a finalist in the Flowers and Gardens competition in the International Artist magazine, where she was featured with an 8th page article in the Oct/Nov Issue 2015, as well as the recipient of an Honorable Mention form the Portrait Society of America Still Life Category, 8th Place Non-Commission Portrait Category of The Portrait Society of America, following a publication in the Master’s Showcase Section in the International Artist April/May 2016 issue and an Honorable Mention from The Jerry’s Artarama Self Portrait competition 2014. She has exhibited in many large Fine Art Fairs where she has won many awards, several Best in Shows, in the TV spot for Fine Art Productions and her work is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Arts and Sciences in Florida as well as private collections throughout the USA, Spain, Canada and Argentina. Sharing what she learns is also a passion of hers and thus, she has taught numerous workshops and teaches 2 weekly classes the Art League of Daytona Beach. She belongs to the Oil Painters of America and the Portrait Society of America.