Martsolf, David

Dave Martsolf was born in 1949 in Kansas, moved to western Pennsylvania in early childhood and at age 12 moved to New Hampshire where he resides today.

Martsolf's father and grandfather were architects and his mother a photographer.

Martsolf attended MIT and later UNH where he earned a degree in Fine Arts.

His early work was influenced by all the great masters and others such as the post-impressionists Miro, Mondrian, Matisse, Kandinsky, Klee, Picasso, and the surrealist Salvador Dali. Architectural instincts developed due to his close association with architecture in his youth.

Today, Martsolf's style explores his organic and architectural drawing styles to produce lively contemporary artworks, expanding these elemental first inspirations into finished works in many mediums, primarily in colored pencil, ink, watercolors, and oil paintings.


Oil Paintings

My oil paintings include surreal subject matter and also some abstracts.

Wonder “Wonder”

In this 48" x 32" work, a young woman is in a state of wonder at the amazing world around her.

The Cathedral “The Cathedral”

The painting (51" x 30") juxtaposes the ribs of a cathedral with the rib cage of a human body, implying that the body is the cathedral of the soul.

Windows of Allegory “Windows of Allegory”

This painting (48" x 32") documents the details of the artist's life using the artist as the model, from young age to his death.

Dr. Wolf and the Black Cat “Dr. Wolf and the Black Cat”

a 20" x 16" abstract in which I see a wolf wearing glasses observing the back of a black cat flying overhead.

Forest Spirits “Forest Spirits”

A 20" x 16" mystery in the forest

Ferris Wheel “Ferris Wheel”

A young girl with a positive attitude rides high above a Ferris Wheel protected by her mother..

Nostalgic Confections “Nostalgic Confections”

32" x 40" memories of a fisherman's life

Adam and Eve “Adam and Eve”

This 48" x 48" canvas was sold at a Fall River, MA art show in the 1980's and has not resurfaced since.

A Last Minute Apocalyptic Education “A Last Minute Apocalyptic Education”

An 18" x 24" canvas with the apocalypse appearing on the horizon. It comes for each of us. Prepare.

Balance at the Mouth of Desire “Balance at the Mouth of Desire”

This 48" x 66" canvas won the Purchase Prize at a UNH Alumni Show in the early 1980's. Painted in 1979 it is now part of the University of New Hampshire's permanent collection.

Calypso “Calypso”

Calypso is a carnival ride where normal riders have been replaced by giant heads, each signifying a different emotional state. Remember the old song by "The Band", "Life is a Carnival". Some times we would say 'How true'. And, such is the meaning of this painting. 34" x 50"

Friends “Friends”

Sold to a collector in NYC, this 1979 16" x 20" painting is still available as prints at Fine Art America. This is a great painting for a child's bedroom or play area. There is a small man floating in the yellow bowl, probably dreaming, with all of his childhood imaginary friends surrounding him.

Surface Tension “Surface Tension”

48" x 78" - Art critic Clement Greenberg made the hypothesis years ago that Impressionism was the first step taken by modern art to get away from the illusion of space that had predominated painting for hundreds of years. Expressionism and the growth of the abstract painiting was seen as the logical conclusion of this process. Here "Surface Tension" balances that theory with an illusionistic space where all the subjects attempt to define the surface just in case you were thinking we were not aware of this critical assessment of the world and 'progress' of painting away from space.

Winner of the Sawyer Memorial Award for Painting, 38th Annual New Hampshire Art Association Exhibition, Currier Gallery of Art, Manchester, NH, 1985

The Last Supper “The Last Supper”

52" x 72" - The Last Supper has always been painted as though by an observer. But, to me the point of all Christian teaching is to understand the world through the eyes of Christ. So, what better way to feel our responsibility to others and learn how we should act toward one another than to put ourselves in Christ's shoes so to speak. This painting tries to do that, and tries to catch the moment when all the disciples (only some of them shown here in modern dress) suddenly realize what Christ is doing and what will happen soon in the future.

Civilization Found Intact “Civilization Found Intact”

13" x 22" - Picasso, Dali, Miro, Kandinsky, jump up off the planet, look around, dive into civilization, run away to wilderness - when I went to MIT we learned Fortran on punch cards. Can you believe it? Compiling a program on PUNCH CARDS. How fast are we moving? Will we cross safely to a post-fossil fuel society? Or will we just join fossils as another layer in the sediment? Amazing opportunity. What kind of life? To infinity and beyond. This work is in the private collection of the artist's brother.

Illumination Beyond Ursa Major “Illumination Beyond Ursa Major”

32" x 40" - The galaxy in the background is M81, a beautiful Sb-type spiral. Of course the relatively nearby stars that form Ursa Major (The Big Dipper) are far beyond us now as we sail out into deep space to examine the contrapuntal forces of family love, fear, and aggression that appear to mark our species for better or worse. The child enters. I hope we are learning something from generation to generation.

The Bridge “The Bridge”

28" x 48" - Two eyes, two worlds, green fields at night, a future civilization in daylight. All a dream in the eyes of the beholder.

The Novelist “The Novelist”

14" x 21" - I can't remember where this surreal oil painting is. Since it is a colored rendition of an original pen and ink drawing, I could paint another one if you really like it.

Umbilical Cord “Umbilical Cord”

13" x 21" - This surreal oil painting was in New Hampshire 18 years ago. It is a low-level hallucination, painted in a non-realistic style so as not to overwhelm the viewer. Worlds like these are easy to get lost in so that you might never come back. If you plan on experimenting with hallucinations, I recommend that you try this at home rather than anywhere else. It is best to be in familiar safe surroundings. Sitting down is best.

Portents of Genius “Portents of Genius”

26" x 45" and painted in the 1970's, this is an early work when I felt distorted, but knew I was on my way. Note the ice pick and back wall, chipping my way out of a jail cell, blasting away the floating cinder blocks. A close view will show a little egg at lower left with a little leg sticking out. All self-portraits.

Watercolors over Drawings

These artworks have laser-printed drawings copied to archival watercolor paper that is then painted.

The Blues “The Blues”

A 7.5" x 10" abstraction of strange plants with blue blossoms.

Mountainside “Mountainside”

A 10" x 8" abstraction of a tree and plant life just below treeline on the side of a mountain.

Fireworks Man “Fireworks Man”

A 10" x 8" portrait of a man appearing formed by a collection of fireworks exploding overhead.

Aquarium “Aquarium”

A 9.5" x 7.5" image of a man surfacing from a pool of water.

Terrarium “Terrarium”

A 7.5" x 10" abstraction of shapes in a landscape setting.

Full Force “Full Force”

An 8" x 10" abstraction of still life shapes filled with energy.

Planetary Chariot “Planetary Chariot”

Our planet is carried forward by animal spirits, but ones who also believe in conservation and stewardship.

Arachne “Arachne”

Arachne was transformed into a spider by Greek god Athena after boasting about her ability to sew. Her she is.

Bejeweled Fertility Goddess “Bejeweled Fertility Goddess”

The uncolored ink drawing was called embryo. It was sold to a doctor in Denmark. Colored prints of the drawing are now available as fertility goddesses. Every home should have one (-: .

Irregular Feminine Vase “Irregular Feminine Vase”

A rose is a rose is a rose, but this is not a rose, but with another name smells just as sweet.

Life on the Farm “Life on the Farm”

These guys are serious. Think "Animal Farm". They're ready to believe you.

Mem Brain “Mem Brain”

The membrane between consciousness and dreams can dissolve away in mere moments. All of these water colors so far have been on the order of 8" x 10" in size.

The Millennium Stone “The Millennium Stone”

A stone artifact to honor the beginning of the third millennium of the Common Era.

The Warrior “The Warrior”

This is an alien warrior that has three faces. Can you see them? 8" x 10"

The Young Prince “The Young Prince”

This 8" x10" watercolor over an ink drawing depicts the princely character of the Renaissance.

Zeus “Zeus”

This 8 x 10 inch watercolor shows a confused Zeus. Hera must have tricked him recently.

Architecture on the Land “Architecture on the Land”

Many of my abstracts exhibit architectural structures or references. This is due to my father and grandfather both having been architects.

Brambles “Brambles”

This one is a pure watercolor with no underlying drawing guiding the coloring process.

Habitat “Habitat”

Older structures in mankind's attempts to house himself have not been very energy efficient. The green building process now recognizes this. New standards are being set today that help minimize energy use in architecture.. We are learning slow but sure. I am optimistic regardless of the politics of the the mid 2010's.

The Caress of Memory “The Caress of Memory”

One of the few works I have completed that bear overt references to the female form.

Beak “Beak”

Birdlike abstract forms.

Judging Picasso “Judging Picasso”

Picassoesque designs are judged. The scores have yet to be published.

Mask “Mask”

An abstract with a mask as a central feature of the design.

Mountain Retreat “Mountain Retreat”

Quiet mountain retreat architecture suitable for a baby's room, or a young child's.

My Guardians “My Guardians”

They still are after all these years. Write to for prices. Most of these watercolors are in the range of $100.

Odalisque “Odalisque”

Feminine forms.

The Conductor “The Conductor”

You can choose the work that is being conducted here.

The Good Man “The Good Man”

Look no further. This is the man.

Blue Repose “Blue Repose”

This 11" x 19" watercolor is of my wife, Emma. The price is $250. Write to to seal the deal.

Colored Pencil over Ink Drawings

Throughout my art career I have spontaneously created many drawings quickly from the deepest recesses of my ego, id, and superego, meaning basically from "me", whoever that is. Recently, I have begun coloring these drawings. This collection consists solely of those drawings that have been colorized with the use of colored pencils over the original drawing.

Lakeside “Lakeside”

Some type of sculptural being installed in a lake reviews his sense of being and purpose.

Joe Boulder “Joe Boulder”

This is an abstract that anthropomorphisizes rocks.

The 18th Hole “The 18th Hole”

A tough hole to finish up a long day on the golf course.

Breaking the Egg “Breaking the Egg”

An abstract of the breaking of eggs, great for hanging in the kitchen.

Compartment Man “Compartment Man”

Compartment Man is an abstract of a man s face into many compartments. This could also be called Logic Man. He is a bit sad looking. How sad to have all one s life neatly arranged into little compartments. The original ink drawing was completed in 2002 and not colorized with colored pencils until 2018.

A Planet Remembered “A Planet Remembered”

A Planet Remembered features an abstraction of an earth-like planet hovering over another Goldilocks planet. It is a simple theme of love for our planet and the need to consider it as something worth preserving for its natural beauty and balance. The drawing was completed in 2017 with hand-coloring with colored pencils completed in 2018. This design looks great on many of the products offered by FAA. Check them out. Totes look awesome. Your love of our planet and our responsibility on display for all to see.

The Infection “The Infection”

The drawing was created from ink on paper in 2002. It has been waiting for its meaning for 15 years. Today, as I began to color it with colored pencils I realized it was a message of warning regarding the current political situation in America. I have thus titled it The Infection, a warning to all who make contact with the virus that has infected our Republican Party and seeks to devour all the healthy tissue of our democracy. To understand this is to be forewarned. Do not succumb to the easy path of fear, hate, and blame for the condition of your life. Rather, take charge and take action to improve your life and the lives of those around you using the tools of love, compassion, sacrifice, and hard work. You will be rewarded.

Royal Fireworks Barge “Royal Fireworks Barge”

Royal Fireworks Barge is an abstraction of a boat loaded down with fireworks floating out upon a great man-made lake at a royal palace in a daytime trial run for tonight s majestic performance for the king and all his retinue.The original ink drawing on paper was completed in 2016 and hand-colored with colored pencils by the artist in 2018.

The Living Planet “The Living Planet”

The Living Planet is an ink drawing from 2002 that was hand-colored with colored pencil in 2018. The organic monumental rock sculpture rises from a wooded semi-arid mountainous region. The sculpture is alive with two beings observing the local environment. Mother Nature is always watching and responding. If we are not good stewards Mother Earth will search for other species to replace us. I hope we can learn to Coexist.

The Egg and I “The Egg and I”

The Egg and I is an original drawing in ink on paper that was then hand-colored with colored pencils. The egg is cracked and I look on Mr. Blue Eyes .

Moose “Moose”

This is an abstract of a moose with its grand antlers and even some green vegetation hanging off one antler and some green color on his lower hair, indicating he has been busy eating.

Chopin Ballade No 1 In G Minor “Chopin Ballade No 1 In G Minor”

This drawing was created while listening to Chopin's Ballade No. 1 in G Minor. It is my artistic interpretation of one section of the ballade, translating the audible sound into a written signal that was the next day hand-colored with colored pencils.

Festive Horn “Festive Horn”

Festive Horn is a still life abstract of a brass horn wrapped in holly and red holly berries. The piece was originally an ink drawing done on paper is 2002. It was hand-colored with colored pencils in 2017.

And the Earth Boiled Away “And the Earth Boiled Away”

The Earth spirit on right looks away as the planet boils away into space. Global warming in the extreme. This is a drawing made in 2002 and colored with pencil in 2017.

Me and My Dodo “Me and My Dodo”

This is a recently (2017) colored ink drawing originally created in 2003. It is signed with my Chinese signature, Ma, meaning horse, but which I also use to signify Martsolf. The second character is San, meaning three as in 2003. I am on the right. My dodo bird is on the left.

Legion “Legion”

"Legion" is a recently (2017) colorized ink on paper drawing originally created in 2002. It features many faces growing out of a gray form, including a small horse at lower left.

Concerns “Concerns”

Several imaginative characters express concern and worry about the world around us.

Clef “Clef”

Clef is an abstract of musical clef signatures.

Turtle “Turtle ”

This is an abstract of a turtle's head.

Life in a Bottle “Life in a Bottle”

Life in a Bottle was drawn in 2008 and hand-colored with colored pencils in 2017. If purchased it will ship flat, unframed.

Potshards “Potshards”

The drawing for "Potshards" was completed in 2002. It was hand-colored with pencil in 2017 and is now ready for sale. This piece will be shipped flat and unframed if purchased. It is an original. There are no other copies.

Airbender “Airbender”

Airbender. This is the Chinese character Feng, meaning wind. The title is "Airbender" as a result. The piece was originally drawn as ink on paper in 2002, but was colored with pencil in 2017. The work is shown in a frame in some photos, but will be shipped flat unframed if purchased. This is an original. There are no copies.

A Kiss for Baby “A Kiss for Baby”

A Kiss for Baby is an abstract of an adult giving a loving kiss to a baby.

Peaches and Plumbs “Peaches and Plumbs”

This is an abstract colored drawing of peaches and plums.

Tu - Chinese for Earth “Tu - Chinese for Earth”

This is an abstract for one of the five ancient dieties.

Oil on Paper Abstracts

These abstracts were created by applying oil pigment with a variety of mediums on a coarse embossed absorbent paper. The original artwork was then photographed at very high resolution in order to enable prints to be made as large as 6' wide, suitable for spaces that can benefit from this strong dramatic work. The lighting of the original for photographic purposes was made to mimic lighting from above or below.

Man Chased by Mountain Lion “Man Chased by Mountain Lion”

This is a photograph of oil paint in various mediums applied to an absorbent paper towel. My abstracts often remind me of recognizable shapes. In this case I was reminded of ancient cave paintings. I saw a man as a black stick figure on the left being chased by a reddish brown mountain lion on the right. I suggest this would make a great art print on the order of 24 x 48 for placement in a living room over a couch or sofa.

Lively Contemporary Oil Paintings

My latest work focuses on my energetic drawing style to create contemporary paintings based on the original line drawing, adding bright backgrounds to highlight references to perceived objects.