Melanie Martinez

My paintings tell stories about ordinary people but represent larger truths about a community. To paint the world around me, I draw on my early background in journalism. As a junior reporter in the 1980s, inspired by the revolutionary investigative reporting and New Journalism of the ‘70s, I quickly learned that a straight, factual news story might be manipulated to tell a more thoughtful, or even disturbing, story than the facts alone described. I also learned that a “factual” story could be manipulated to indoctrinate a society with symbols of patriotism, prosperity, identity, and community. 

My artistic process begins by immersing myself in direct observation, images, literature and social research related to issues that gnaw at me. I find that, lately, I’m focused on issues related to loss and identity, whether it affects actual neighborhoods and towns, or an individual’s personal place in the world.  Like a reporter, I travel to a site where an event has occurred or where my subject resides, to expand the bigger picture behind the snapshot in my mind. Using street photography as a starting point for my visual image, I then translate it through the filter that painting allows me.

The slow practice of oil painting suits my thought process and gives me time to discover what’s important to tell. The moderate size of my paintings (average 2’x 3′) allows the viewer to more easily take in the many details I present. My narrative approach offers multiple scenes that inform a greater story. However, that story depends on the experience of the viewer and what they choose to see. Taken individually, a single page of a story may be read completely out of context, just as my work might be.


Apache Territory, oil on canvas, 30″ x 48″, 2019
Domino’s Delivers, oil on canvas, 24″ x 36″, 2018
Mission Systems, oil on canvas, 36″ x 24″, 2019
Friday Night Fights, oil on canvas, 24″ x 36″, 2019
Saturday in the Park, oil on canvas, 24″ x 18″, 2018
Booze Box, oil on canvas, 24″ x 30″, 2018
Kamikaze, oil on canvas, 32″ x 24″, 2019
Watching Over You, oil on canvas, 24″ x 18″, 2019
Vets Eat Free on Veterans Day, oil on canvas, 24″ x 30″, 2019
If You Lived Here You’d Be Home By Now, oil on canvas, 24″ x 48″, 2018
Trophy Sale, oil on canvas, 32″ x 28″, 2019
Luby’s Memorial, oil on canvas, 36″ x 18″, 2019