Cowgirl Up! | Martha Pettigrew

By Bonnie Gangelhoff

Red Boxcar, oil, 18 x 24.

The multitalented Martha Pettigrew is showcasing both her painting and sculpting abilities in this year’s Cowgirl Up show. Although known for her bronze sculptures, most often depicting women, Pettigrew says that about five years ago she began to return to her two-dimensional roots. She majored in printmaking and oil painting at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.

Her return to painting began when she and her husband, Del, traveled to San Miguel de Allende in central Mexico, taking along their paints and easels. The couple painted on the streets of the charming colonial town, capturing the colorful doors, windows, and walls of the homes and storefronts. “Painting on the streets was a breakthrough,” Pettigrew says. “I’ve always been mainly a studio painter. And, after sculpting in clay, which is just one color, I found that I really did miss the chance to work with color combinations.”

Today, Pettigrew splits her creative time equally between sculpting and painting. For the bronze sculpture SONG OF THE DRUM, in the Cowgirl Up, show she wanted to depart from her typical female subject matter and depict a male figure. “I wanted to do a strong figure and go larger than tabletop size to add to my repertoire. For this sculpture, I used a photo of a young Apache man as reference material.”

For her painting MOONLIT BARN, also in the show, Pettigrew says she was inspired by a barn she saw in Fort Collins, CO. “My paintings may look simple, but a lot of thought goes into the color application. They have layers of color, and if you look closely, you can see the underpainting coming through,” Pettigrew says.

She is represented by Big Horn Galleries, Tubac, AZ, and Cody, WY; Deselms Fine Art & Custom Framing, Cheyenne, WY; Knox Galleries, Beaver Creek and Denver, CO, and Harbor Springs, MI; Manitou Galleries, Santa Fe, NM; Lou DeSerio Gallery, Sedona, AZ; and Strecker-Nelson Gallery, Manhattan, KS;

Featured in March 2012.