Artist of the week: Martin Townsend


Sean Martens

Local artist Martin Townsend presents one of his paintings. Photo credit: Sean Martens

“Art is a conversation that’s had when people look at it, absorb it and process it,” said Martin Townsend, a local artist. “They can then turn to another person and say ‘yeah’ or ‘nah, not feeling it,’ and there is a discussion where everyone’s viewpoint is valid.”

Townsend aspires to offer viewers a window into how he sees the world.

The 25 year old has been drawing as long as he can remember and has more recently been branching out to reach new heights in his career.

The people around him have had the biggest effect on his art, Townsend said.

“My biggest inspiration right now is my peers,” Townsend said. “There’s always energy in the studio and most people I’ve worked around are great about helping develop ideas. In terms of subjects and content, my work is influenced by my friends, family, and hobbies—mainly Dungeons and Dragons.”

Martin explained that he would rather show who a person is rather than portraying only their physical appearance.

“I’ve found that my more successful works are when I’m working thoughts of that person (into the art) and memories influence me,” Townsend said. “So even if it doesn’t look exactly like them, I’m trying to convey how I see them and how I feel their presence.”

While art has always been Martin’s passion, his past experiences have helped boost how he produces his art.

“I went to school for drafting and design at ITT which is no longer a school, they lost their accreditation and I wasn’t feeling architecture anymore, so I jumped right into art and have been doing it ever since,” he said.

Townsend said his knowledge of design is helpful when it comes to planning his art.

“With architecture, your initial designs of a building perspective is important and understanding the planes of a surface, and when planning out a composition that’s a really big help,” Townsend said. “Putting a figure in a space that seems real, it’s more convincing.”

“Someone once told me that human attention spans are short,” Townsend said. “Someone will look at it for 10 seconds—whether it’s fantastic or not—and then move on… If you can hold someone’s attention for 30 seconds with a painting or drawing or non-moving image that (remains constant), you have them, they are interested, they are going to remember that.”

Townsend says his dreams of being an artist were on the backburner until he won a contest in middle school.

“I did this mixed-media painting of the dragon from ‘Eragon,’” Townsend said. “I was using watercolor, and salt, and oil pastels because oil and water don’t mix. It was a really interesting combination… and it was my first project that wasn’t an assignment and I ended up winning. I remember feeling super proud and just being like ‘yeah I can do this.’ That was my first award, and it was for art something I had always loved.”

Martin has since developed his skill and found his artistic voice. Now he wishes to share his outlook on life through his creations.

“I’m at a point where, in my process, I’m trying to create a coded message,” Townsend said. “Instead of doing a painting or drawing (that has obvious themes), I’m trying to make it more complicated… I’m trying to re-code my purpose to make it more interesting and complicated so that people will stand there and just wonder a little bit longer.”

Mitchell Kret can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_arts on Twitter.