“Art is both the reflection of our minds and desires and our advancement towards what is to come.”
Arantzazu Martínez is a painter. Since she finished her training period, she has lived creating paintings and has dedicated herself to it totally and completely free.
She was born in 1977, in a beautiful small city in the north of Spain called Vitoria. She grew up in the Basque Country and here she began her career at the Bilbao University of Fine Arts in 1995. It is a university focused on the art of the avant-garde and its development throughout the 20th century. Interesting of course, but for her, it was like starting a house with the last tile on the roof. She dreamed of being able to do with her hands whatever she was able to visualize with her imagination. She wanted to learn all the necessary tools to handle drawing, color, light, volume… with such mastery that it allowed her to transform those ephemeral images into a tangible reality that she could share with the world in which she lived. Arantzazu wanted to ignite people's dreams and imagination, inspire and make people feel through images. For that, you have to understand how the human being perceives reality and be able to recreate it. Knowing how the sensation of light, or softness, volume or heat is created in our brain. It is the study of the fascinating world of human perception turned into painting.
After five years in college, hearing that what she wanted was not possible, she graduated and in 2000 she went to the United States to study painting, thirsty for this knowledge.
She started studying her masters at "The New York Academy of Figurative Art." It was a beautiful experience, she learned a lot from different ways of approaching painting and including different disciplines such as anatomy, technical drawing, and sculpture. She did not approach any of the disciplines in a specialized or very deep way, but at that time having a broad and well-organized general knowledge it was immensely useful. In fact, some of the things she learned at NYAA have been a fundamental basis for achieving the results of her current job. For example, the color class with Wade Schuman. At that time, she really enjoyed this subject but still didn't know how important it was going to be for her. A year and a half after arriving in New York, she had the great fortune to meet Jacob Collins and the Water Street Atelier. When she visited it for the first time, she was so moved that she could not articulate a single word for a long time. As stated by Arantzazu, “That was what I was looking for, I knew it with complete certainty the moment I walked through the door and saw with my own eyes that what I was looking for was possible and I had arrived there. It was November 2001.”
In January 2002, she began studying with Jacob Collins in the mornings while finishing her Master's degree at NYAA in the afternoons. “How fast you learn when you know exactly what you have to learn!” she expressed. Concept by concept, daily training, calmly, in an environment that encourages well-being, concentration. With a teacher who never judged her mistakes as something bad but as steps in the process…perfect in everything. With Jacob she not only learned how to do it, she also learned something fundamental that sustains her as a painter and that is to feel good and safe when she takes the brushes in her hands. Studying with him she began to sell and to base her profession on the sale of her work.
In mid-2005 she considered that she had learned what was necessary to continue her career on her own and she returned to her city in the north of Spain where she began to create what she wanted to the highest level she could at that time and to rediscover her imagination and shape it. She presented her studies done in New York to a gallery (Ormolú) that sold them and she was offered her first solo exhibition. From here on, she has had a thousand experiences that have taught her what she likes and what she doesn't like, what makes her happy and what doesn't. She has always ended up choosing what makes her happy, “although sometimes they are difficult decisions since you do not know where they take you but you do know very clearly where you are going.”
Arantzazu Martínez’s artwork gives you entrance into another world. A world where intricate details are only the epitome of what’s to come. Through her artwork, you are allowed to live any fantasy you never even thought of. Simple as that, her imagery is placed before you in the best manner possible and offers you exquisite pieces that form a whole new vision of hope, of love, of magic, or what’s not but now is. Inevitably, you can’t help but feel the depths of such connections, of such truths, of such desires.
Q. Tell us about your particular style and how you came to it.
A. The basis of my style is academic painting. The two things that I like the most about this method of painting while observing reality are: the first, the ability to transmit a quantity and quality of information close to that which we can directly perceive from reality. It allows to generate a visual and sensual impact at the same time. We can perceive how that painted reality feels as if it were real. They are paintings that you perceive with your mind and body and this is delicious for me. They make you permeable.
The second thing that I love is that it is based on direct observation of reality. To be able to paint from reality you have to merge with it. All your preconceptions are left out and during those moments you become an observer, an explorer who does not judge only appreciates. They are moments of concentration that I adore. For me it is a fundamental characteristic.
What makes this method unique is my imagination at the service of my personal interests.
The way of painting as we talked about before, I learned it with Jacob Collins, in Water Street Atelier. Daily training in favorable emotional conditions and with an extraordinary guide who accompanied me along the way.
Q. Tell us about some of the highlights of your artistic career?
A. Fortunately, there have been many precious moments that have watered the way.
Some of the most special moments in my career have been:
The purchase of two paintings by the European Museum of Modern Art (MEAM). It happened in the early years of my career and it was a huge incentive. Not only because of the purchase but because of the always supportive words of its founder and director Jose Manuel Infiesta.
After many years, his words and his support remain the same. It is wonderful to meet him in this life and be part of this museum that has been and is the first contemporary figurative museum in Europe and is the showcase, a great incentive and the meeting point for hundreds of current artists.
Of course, a very important moment was George Lucas' invitation to participate in the Star Wars Visions project and having closed the project with the purchase of the work "Rancor" and an image of the grisaille of it on the inside cover.
The day I received the email from Lucas Film with the proposal, I will never forget it. I had to read it a few times to believe that I got it right. The whole process was very satisfactory because the treatment with all the people who followed the process of the work was magnificent. Kind, respectful and professional people from the first moment to the last. It was a pleasure to be part of this project.
The "Bouguereau" and "The Best in Show" awards at the Art Renewal Center were moments of great joy and celebration. Literally knowing the result of the last award, I jumped around the room with joy.
More recently I was invited to participate in the IBEX Collection Masterpiece project. The premises were to make the best painting that I was capable of, without limits or conditions on the subject, composition, technique or size. And the painting was paid in monthly installments to prevent financial solvency from being a limitation. Once again, the treatment was unbeatable from the first moment.
Regarding publications, I highlight the interview that the magazine “The Hedonist” gave me because it gave me the opportunity to speak from a point of view that is really the backbone of my work and my life. Moving away a bit from what is and what happens, we approach the whole conversation from the concept and emotion that moves it and the beliefs that sustain the flow of a career and a life.
There have been many more things worth mentioning and the common link between all of them is that they have been extraordinary and the people behind them have been equally extraordinary and those responsible for having been experiences that I treasure with great affection.
Q. What role does the Artist / Painter have in society?
A. In a way we are dedicated to creating and shaping ideas and desires that are partly personal and partly also belong to society and the moment in which we live. Art is as much the reflection of our minds and desires as it is our advancement towards what is to come. We are shaping what is still intangible but wants to be.
One of the most beautiful things about art is that it is not taxable, it exists based on the free desire of the creator and the viewer approaches to observe it with the same freedom to do it or not.
Q. What’s your best childhood memory?
A. I don't know if it's the best, but a day of vacation with my parents in the beautiful city of Barcelona was recorded in my memory when I was very little. In the morning we went to the zoo and saw all the animals and Snowflake. A spectacular albino gorilla. In the afternoon we went to the amusement park and we did not stop having fun for a second. I remember perfectly that at one point I told my parents "This has been the best day of my life."
Q. As a child, what did you wish to become when you grew up?
A. I suppose that in summary the concept that defines it is “inspiring.” Since I can remember I have always been very aware of the joy of life that certain things caused me in my environment. Whether they were art, nature, ideas or stories. Sincerely my adoration for this feeling and for the ability to provoke these states of well-being, has always been my search, my desire and inspiration. Even today and I suppose that always, finding, shaping and sharing something sublime, capable of making the soul dance, is what I want to do.
Q. Do you remember the first art you made? What was it and how old were you?
A. I wouldn't call it art, but I do remember the first time that while my father was painting, he left me a support, some oils and the image of a tree painting. I tried to copy it and was surprisingly very happy with the result. Surely, she still has it stored somewhere. I don't remember my age but I don't think I was older than 8 years.
Q. How and when did you first become seriously interested in art?
A. When I was a teenager in the last years of high school, I couldn't take another second sitting at a table without creating anything interesting. It was then that I decided that I was going to do fine art without a doubt.
Q. What does your art aim to express?
A. Consciousness of self, eagerness for life, freedom, strength, deep calm, beauty, creativity ability, a new reality.
Q. What personality trait has gotten you in the most trouble?
A. Without a doubt the fear of not living up to my own expectations and the fear of being afraid. At 23 years old, after a five-year career in which I had not found what I was looking for, I came to New York, to the NYAA. At that moment I realized that the situation was finally propitious. It was time to prove to myself if I really was capable.
I was so afraid of discovering that it was useless for painting that I fell into a spiral of anxiety and had the worst time of my life. I came to think that I was dying. Fortunately, I did not and since then training my direction of thoughts has been more important than anything else.
Q. What have you had to sacrifice for this career?
A. Most of the time I have been so focused and enjoying my profession that I have not felt that the things I did not have were a sacrifice.
In recent years, I have come to the conclusion that now I want to spend more time enjoying myself with the people I love and delighting in life. So little by little I am changing my habits to transform my life routine and include all those things that I want.
I have never believed that sacrifice can get you anywhere worthwhile.
Q. Who are your biggest influences? Are you inspired by the work of your peers or anyone else in particular?
A. Visually, all the images that made me daydream as a child and a teenager have influenced me a lot. The illustration of stories, encyclopedias, books and painting of the nineteenth century. Technically, the delightful skill of my teacher Jacob Collins and thematically the subjects that interest me enough to dedicate a period of my life to them.
Q. Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?
A. Sometimes, but probably just like any other kind of life. I think it depends more on the personality of each individual.
It's true that creative people often don't feel lonely when we're alone; we are comfortable and we feel free. They are those moments where you are, without having to realize it and where you can concentrate without distractions. For this reason, many times we look for moments and places where we can isolate ourselves.
On the other hand, the feeling of loneliness begins when you stop being comfortable and want to be with other people and at that moment you can choose to do it without your profession getting in the way. Every circumstance in this life can be molded to suit what we want. It is in our hands to include and make room in our agendas so that people are part of our lives.
In my case, I work from life with models a lot of the time.
I share what I know and organize experiences with painters who are learning and others who are already professionals. It is a very satisfying way to share and include other people in my professional and personal life.
I am also taking care of my schedule more and more, to dedicate time to those I love and to share my life with the people I love. It is without a doubt a personal choice being a painter and also in any other profession.
Q. Apart from your art, what do you love doing?
A. To write. I know that our happiness, feeling happy, feeling excited about life and enthusiasm in what we do depend directly on what we usually think. I love feeling good and now I know that fortunately this can be trained and I love doing it. I adore searching and finding the thoughts and activities that bring me to that emotional state. So, I write between one and two hours a day collecting all the thoughts that make me vibrate.
I love cooking. I find it hilarious. It is how to have access to an unlimited abundance of options, the variety of foods, flavors, textures, colors, smells ... collect all that abundance and combine it to create something different that feeds, is a source of pleasure and that you can also share. It's like playing.
I really like to exercise, to the extent that you put your body a little beyond what is easy and makes you feel alive.
Stroll through the mountains…. for me it is delicious.
Q. What is your philosophy in matters of art?
A. I think that art always arises from desire together with mastery or ability to shape it and is always linked with innovation. It is united with the constant, indivisible and eternal desire of humanity to create that which we desire and does not yet exist. It is the leading edge; it is the vanguard of humanity. It brings together our social, intellectual and emotional perspectives, shapes them and makes them real and present. For this reason, it works both as a reflection of who we are and what we want to be and as food that permeates us and fertilizes reality for new growth.
Q. What does 'success' mean to you?
A. Being able to live day by day feeling the enjoyment of being in life.
It is my priority above all things. In the good moments when the conditions are good for you it is quite easy so now, I am very interested in learning how to turn around the emotions that arise when the circumstances go wrong. Being able to observe these emotions with enough distance, with interest and see how they dissolve is the closest I know to feeling free ... it seems to me an immeasurable achievement. And of course, there is a painting waiting to be done that will shape it, at least one shape.
Q. What are the biggest things you've learned in life thus far?
A. Probably the most important thing I have learned is that our thoughts and emotions are the foundations of the life we live and that we can consciously shape them.
Q. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given, and by who?
A. Follow your joy, by Abraham hicks
Q. What advice would you give to the next generation?
A. Follow your joy.