Lucas Martell perceives the world a bit differently.
The Dallas native tends to focus on color, light, elements, and forms rather than objects, and these impressions inspire his artwork, including the piece on view behind the AMC NorthPark 15 ticket counter on Level Two.
Part of the NorthPark Pop Up Project that spotlights emerging artists, Lineage, 2020 reflects Martell’s interest in creating symbolic forms in an atmosphere of color.
“I’m constantly sort of abstracting reality,” he says. “It doesn’t matter what it is—a tree, a building––I’m always thinking how can I use them in artwork without them having specific form. I’ll take colors of plants, but not the plant.”
He credits some of this approach to his interest in Native science, a holistic Native American view of the environment and its intrinsic connections to people, flora, and fauna.
Lineage was created through a process that incorporated parts of two watercolors that Martell painted five years ago.
He selected three postcard-size segments of them that he scanned at extremely high resolution and uploaded into Adobe Illustrator. Then, he created mirror images of them and began to align interlock and repeat the six pieces into a digital collage.
When you see the final image enlarged many times and printed onto vinyl, its origin in watercolor is surprising.
Lineage features precise straight lines that are uncommon in watercolor works and few of the blotches or seeping glazes associated with the medium.
“You have to be engaged with watercolor because it’s very sensitive,” he explains. “It’s translucent and sort of slow moving. You have to take time with it and let things dry. There is definitely a rhythm to it, and I can really build it up. I stack colors so they get really thick, opaque, and kind of bright.”
Martel chose to concentrate on watercolor in undergraduate school because it was “really difficult,” and he’s been refining his approach ever since.
He creates crisp lines by placing tape on treated cotton paper that discourages the colors from running and doesn’t tear when the tape is removed.
“A lot of my work is abstract, and always sort of spacious,” he reflects. “I can create space very quickly with the tonal qualities of the color, and I love that. For me, it’s the first part to making my paintings—the colors and stains are the atmosphere, the space, and then I start to really form something in it.”
The title, Lineage, is a double entendre. It refers to the extrapolation on earlier works as well as “these weird things that emerge that sort of feel symbolic or concrete,” Martell explains.
He prefers viewers draw their own conclusions about what those visual metaphors might be.
But Martell, who teaches art fundamentals at Mountain View College, does suggest one interpretation: “The things that look almost like Xs could be DNA,” he says. “I’m paying attention to smaller things and using these metaphors to create abstract images.”