“Watercolor reminds me every day that there are no “do overs” — It’s only here, now, that brush, this paper, no plan … my only obligation is to react to what is happening.”
Step inside the illustrated world of Polish artist Marta Spendowska, whose abstract watercolors are inspired by the ways nature, beauty, and history come together.
Photos by Shaunae Teske
Can you share more about yourself + your background? What’s led you to what you’re doing now?
I’m a 100% Polish (now Polish-American) artist in love with sea, ocean, and serenity of moving waters. I came to the U.S. in 2005 with high hopes for my creative urges. I was never interested in a corporate job, no matter the money or status. As an illustrator and a fine artist, I live through fulfilling my ideas and sensibilities by painting and studying art.
I came to the U.S. for the first time for an internship and after spending five months in Atlanta, GA painting, going to museums, experiencing this crazy land, and the most open people I’ve ever met, I got a feeling and a realization that it’s my place to flourish. I went back, graduated, and today— it’s been 10 years already!
In the first three years I waitressed, I cleaned toilets at gas stations and hotels, taught yoga, and finally, after receiving a design degree in the U.S., I felt that I had enough groundwork to pursue my own art. Now, I can’t imagine any other way of thriving in this beautiful world. Step by step, I submerged myself in plans and goals and — look ! — I’m answering your questions, happy and proud to become an Urban Outfitters collaborator!
How do you describe your work?
My work is not conceptual; it’s strictly based on the beauty of color and shapes. My hope is to move and inspire by the pure allure of the color’s story, the shape of a foliage, sea, the tilt of the majestic cliff, the magnificent nature of water. I’m mostly interested in contrast, bleeds, impulse, distortion, runny colors. My work is sometimes uplifting, sometimes melancholic, mostly abstract, but always emotionally engaging ... or so I hope.
Watercolors remind me every day that there are no "do overs" — it’s only here, now, that brush, this paper, and my only obligation is to react to what is happening.
Can you share more about your process in creating your pieces?
As an illustrator I know my exact steps: research the topic, collect references, decide on palette, respond to the client's requirements. But as an artist, I am at the mercy of beauty and spirituality, which have become the biggest motivators in my daily life. By learning from my experiences, I have become the unique author of what I know.
All my work starts on a watercolor, mixed media paper, or canvas, or wood panel. I think a painting mostly paints itself.
Describe a dream project.
I have two projects in mind: I’ve always loved textiles so it would be a true dream to creatively collaborate with a fashion brand. Can you imagine my beautiful abstracts on dresses? I sure can! Another dream would be to have a full line of home decor products.
What are some of your favorite color combinations?
I go through cycles. For example I tend to choose bright colors muted by white or grays, then uplifted by golds and coppers. My latest collection was all blue (teal, mint, light blue, deep blue) and gold. It brought me back to Poland and my forever beloved Baltic Sea. I’m about to move close to the ocean and my intuition makes me think that you’ll soon see more blue, green, gray, gold, and copper from me.
What’s next for you?
I fell in love with the East coast and I’m ready to deep my toes in the ocean every day, forever. This translates to being able to show my work to people who, like me, love serenity of waters. I’m planning on opening a gallery/studio and host gatherings for creative people.