What inspires an artist? Why does he devote his work to a certain subject matter, depicted in a certain style? Often these questions rise first and foremost to an art viewer’s mind. For Peruvian watercolor artist Victor Martinez, his inspiration comes from the native Andean people of Peru, his home country. He loves how they are still attached to nature and have resisted cultural influences. As he says, they are “people who unintentionally resist being absorbed by the huge process of civilization and who fully exercise their humanity. That is what I try to convey in my work: their simplicity, their direct contact with nature, the peculiar clothes, attractive and full of color, of women whose faces still show candor and joy.” He realistically and sensitively paints these Andean people and their landscapes and seascapes.
Victor Martinez was born in 1932 and grew up in Arequipa, Peru and learned about art at a very young age from his artistic father, Victor Martínez Málaga, creator and founder of the Carlos Bacaflor School of Art of Arequipa, Peru. His father was an oil painter and taught Victor in his realistic, traditional style, always teaching him what an artist’s work is. He adopted his father’s dream of a loyal and academic road to truth and reality in art.
Victor Martinez began his formal education at the Regional School of Fine Arts, and then moved to Lima, Peru, where he took advanced courses at the National School of Fine Arts. Following his formal education however, he dedicated his time to graphic design and illustration until 1987, at the age of 55, when he returned to his first love, fine art. Annual trips to California continued to advance his career. He eventually permanently moved to the United States in 1998. He currently lives and resides in Scottsdale, Arizona, traveling each year to different parts of North and South America with his wife Gladys, who he’s been married to for thirty-seven years.
Victor Martinez is a self-taught watercolor artist. He paints solely with Winsor and Newton watercolors, which he believes has a wider range of higher concentrated pigments, and he does not paint with white. He paints on unstretched Arches Cold Press paper in at least 300 pound weight with Princeton and Richeson brand brushes. He paints standing up, with his easel at a 90-degree angle, and tries to complete his paintings in one session. He paints in a very systematic way, always working in the same pattern of first doing a detailed drawing, then doing the background, painting the face, the costume, and finishes with the hands and feet. He uses photographic reference materials that he takes on his yearly trips to Peru to make his paintings. He also employs the use of mirrors, to see his work inverted, and a hair dryer to speed up the drying process.
He paints in a realistic manner because that is what he was taught since he was young. Even with the different trends of modern art movements, he never tried to vary the way he expressed himself. He paints that which attracts him: images showing man deprived from superfluous appearances, man in his daily work, living his life as he must live it, exercising his reason to be alive. He also paints the place in which that man lives. He finds that there is still yet something that he has not yet painted. He believes he is generating a body of work that for many reasons he had postponed, but feels great satisfaction to what he does, and that it constitutes his reason for living.
His high artistic quality, subject matter, and medium have made him internationally renowned. His paintings have been shown in numerous museums and are part of private collections in North and South America, as well as Europe. His watercolors have earned him professional national awards in the United States, including the “Best of Show” at the 20th anniversary international exhibition of the San Diego Watercolor Society in 2000, as well as the most prestigious award in his hometown, El Diploma de la Ciudad de Arequipa a la Labor Artística. His works have also been featured in popular art magazines such as New Art International (Jan 1998), International Artist Magazine (June/July 1999), Watercolor Magazine (Fall 1999), Splash 6 (Jan 2000), Southwest Art Magazine (April 2000), Artist’s Magazine (December 2000, February 2006), American Artist Magazine (October 2004), and Watercolor Magic Magazine (June 2006). He is also in major collections including the Banco del Sur in Peru, and is collected by several Mobil Oil executives and a United States ambassador to Peru.
As well as painting, he also teaches private watercolor lessons from his studio in Scottsdale, Arizona. He has made some videos and often talks about and shares his watercolor techniques with others. He feels a great satisfaction when others gain an appreciation for watercolors.
While some artist’s inspiration and reasoning behind their works remain a mystery, Victor Martinez’s art is easy to see and appreciate. He says that to him, “capturing people and their environment in watercolor paintings is an irresistible challenge. Each time I pick up the brush I'm faced with a new adventure, and that's what provides the satisfaction that inspires me to keep on painting.” It is great that he keeps on painting these masterpieces for everyone to enjoy.