Artist Bio of Martha Esch

        Martha Esch is an artist who is fluent in many styles, and mediums, and her subjects of choice come from the past and present real world. She enjoys the ability to produce very loose works of high contrast, as well as very controlled works of great subtlety. Many of her plein air landscape paintings have strong resonance with Masters such as Courbet. Rather than fall victim to one style of work, she explores the range available to her, often incorporating different styles into one work, always seeking and striving to increase her range of expression, while at the same time refining her technical skills. She is an adept portraitist in paint and pencil and ink, capable of rendering a sensitive portrait drawing in a surprisingly vivid and easy style within minutes, or a full-sized figure painting from life within a few hours, and her ability to depict weight and movement is uncanny.

        Esch has been painting in oils since early childhood, growing up under the landing flight path of Cleveland Hopkins Airport in Ohio.  She studied at the Cleveland Institute of Art and received her B.A. in Studio Art with a minor in Aerospace Flight Technology from Kent State University where she earned a Commercial Pilot Certificate, Flight Instructor, and later, a Multi-Engine Rating. In 1988 she made an unprecedented 183 day barnstorming journey throughout the 48 continental United States, flying with 199 aviators in their antique aeroplanes. She has a multi-media presentation and an upcoming book on her unique journey and is available for speaking engagements to aviation and travel groups. Her deep and abiding interest in aviation is reflected in her most recent painted oil portrait series, which offers aviators of the First World War as real people, not as adjuncts to machines. 

        She attributes the start of her life-long passion for painting and drawing to have been inspired by Jane Flagg, a neighbor artist, who had a large studio in the back of her home, complete with a dozen tall easels.  Canvases and palettes filled with colorful oil paint and turpentine were readily supplied to each of the young students Flagg's studio could accommodate at one time. Twice weekly after school, all the kids on the block painted still lifes and copied prints of masterpieces by Monet, Van Gogh, Utrillo, DaVinci, Botticelli and other great art masters. Flagg and the other mothers also took them on summer outings to the Cleveland Museum of Art.

      "I think it wasn't until two decades later, at a high school reunion, when I and two of my childhood girlfriends from that street where we had grown up together realized just how much Mrs. Flagg had influenced our lives and how lucky we were to have had her classic art tutelage. The three of us noted that we had all excelled beyond our high school peers in our art classes, had gone on to receive college art degrees, and had chosen art careers. We also agreed that we had no idea how rare and privileged all those rich painting experiences had been, and how as kids we thought that all children in the world made oil paintings."  

        In short, Esch's skill and range is wonderfully remarkable. Her works can be viewed and purchased at her ARTWORKS IN PROGRESS Fine Art Galley & Sessions Studio located in the historic delta town of Locke, California, at the top end of Main Street. There she also hosts painting and drawing workshops taught by a handful of guest artists, as well as weekly studio figure and portrait sessions springtime through fall, and a free once-a-month painting class for children and teens on the 3rd Saturday of every month. Esch is also available for commissions.

Her web site is:

In addition to operating her active Locke gallery & studio on weekends and throughout the summer, Esch is a Guest Teacher most school days, most often working at Laguna Creek and Elk Grove High Schools in Elk Grove, California. Esch and her two artistically-skilled teenage children live in the scenic delta town of Courtland.

© Artworks In Progress