Robert Martinez “can’t get away from new techniques and materials,” and his work blends sources and methods spanning a century. His portraits use traditional oil glazing over an airbrushed acrylic underpainting. His drawings are rendered in pencil and charcoal over digital reproductions of antique documents. He uses as his sources both historical photographs and his friends Facebook photos. He is currently making a sand-cast aluminum sculpture out of found soda and beer cans.
The super-saturated, almost neon colors of his portraits are “a push back against the sepia-toned myth of Native life. It’s not uncommon to see a guy at a powwow in regalia and a Star Wars tee shirt.” He is a founding member of the Northern Arapaho Artists Society and the Creative Indigenous Collective.
Robert Martinez was born in Central Wyoming amidst the Wind River Reservation in the small city of Riverton. He grew up a part of many different cultures as his lineage is Spanish, Mexican, Scotts Irish, French Canadian and Northern Arapaho. He graduated High School at 17 and through a scholarship attended the Rocky Mountain College of Art & Design. In 3 years he graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts specializing in Painting & Drawing and minoring in sculpture, becoming the Youngest Native American to graduate from RMCAD at that time. As he was brought up in the center of the reservation, his native heritage remains a constant inspiration and source of ideas for his work. Living in Wyoming amongst the hard-working people of the west and experiencing their issues also influence his creations. The past and present often resonate strongly in Wyoming, and those historical chords echo throughout his work.
Much of Robert’s current work uses the historical imagery, myth’s and stories of the West & Arapaho Culture to create images that have a statement on the issues of today. Using intense, vibrant color, he paints striking imagery that is confronting and engages the viewer.
The Renaissance masters and their work with the figure, contemporary fantasy illustration’s heroic images, & native artists’ use of color have deeply influenced Robert’s style. Robert often sketches his idea into a complete finished pencil drawing making it an exquisite piece in its own right before transferring the design to canvas. He then uses the contemporary airbrush to create a richly hued under-painting in acrylic. Using classic oil painting and techniques, he stresses the often pure color glazes to reinforce the play of light and dark of the subject to finish the piece.
Follow Robert's Work @robertmartinezartist