A native of Boise, Idaho, and educated in Seattle, Wash., Martin moved to the Monterey area from Los Angeles. When the Sixth Army Division moved Fort Ord nine years ago, his landlord sold the house in which he, his wife, and baby daughter were living. His search for a home brought him to Watsonville and a charming house on Blackburn Street.
Before World War II he was a commercial artist. During the war he served with the Air Force as a photographer, (still more than a hobby) and as an art teacher at the Army Base at Bocca Raton, Fla. It was during this time that his interest was stirred in fine art. "We'd get together in the evenings and start art discussions that would go on all night. It was the first time I was interested in the difference between the two." he said. When he received his discharge he enrolled in the Jepson Art Institute in Los Angeles and studied for four years.
He felt very strongly about the study of art, claiming it is impossible to learn painting on your own. "Learning it on your own is fallacy, he said. "There are artistic conventions that have been built up through centuries of work and study by great masters and the individual must learn these through instruction otherwise he'll never understand it." His advice to parents of talented children or those with a creative urge is to pursue quality instruction as early as possible. "There is a tremendous amount to learn and to work at." he said. "There is no other study like it." He compared the music student who studies as instrument and then becomes a concert player. "He is interpreting the work of others, not necessarily composing. Every canvas the artist produces is a composition."
What about the moderns? Martin says that the lack of understanding is because many viewers first think of subject matter. "Modern trends are enlightening us. Many people claim modernistic works are merely designs. This isn't so. The subject matter of a picture is secondary in importance to its design and decorative quality. A painting first must be decorative. Subject matter is something that is added and a matter of taste."
Martin's style is traditional. he believed that a good knowledge of drawing is necessary to painting and the most convenient medium is charcoal. He finds figure painting the most interesting and his pictures reveal a sound understanding and knowledge of anatomy from the inside out, undoubtedly the reason his portraits have a quality of warmth and reflect the personality of his sitters.
"An artist must be both a creator and a performer." local painter Carl Martin told members of the Watsonville Woman's Club Friday afternoon as he started a lecture-demonstration "Art in Action."
The artist is like the talented musician who'd be able to create a composition on the spot and perform it skillfully at the same time for an audience. Both the skill and creative process are at work at the same time, he said.
Martin said he prefers to add a bit of color to the paper before he begins the actual composition. There should be some plan thought out before the artist begins, he said. Some design is thought outl
He began his still life painting of a wine glass, bottle and fruit by sketching triangular forms. Each triangular form was some-what related to the other. He noted in working with oils, the artist begins with darker tones, then blends the lighter colors with them. He demonstrated the use of abstract patterns in filling in the background area. Eventually, some form emerges from the hazy patterns, he said.
He noted the most vivid colors take up only a small area of the entire composition. The greens and yellows of his completed still life were the most dominant.
One of his portraits of a girl with a rose which had taken the top prize at the San Juan Bautista Art Festival was displayed in the foyer of the Woman's Clubhouse. A still life he had painted was displayed in the hall way.
The afternoon tea was served while Martin was completing his still life painting. The tea table decorations included a painting of a single rose. The painting was flanked by large green candles, a palette, and brushes.