Photo: Ruby Johnson
What do Bob Ross-esque landscapes, abominable snowmen, Bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster and zombies have in common? They are all combined in the art that Kat Martin will be slingin’ at this year’s Craft Lake City. The concept for the work that Martin will be showing just kind of fell into her lap (with a little nudge from her husband and SLUG film critic, Jimmy Martin).
While shopping at one of the Black Chandelier stores one day in 2009, Jimmy saw a re-used landscape painting not unlike a Bob Ross piece that someone had painted over with their own characters. Jimmy asked Kat if she could make something similar. Kat agreed, thinking nothing of it. The resulting piece was a forest scene with a river as the focal point featuring zombies running towards the viewer. “I hung the zombie one in Jimmy’s office. Everybody who saw it loved it, so I threw one together with the abominable snowman covered in blood for the SLUG Christmas party.” The blood-splattered yeti painted on a serene, snowy mountain landscape ended up being one of the most sought-after white elephant gifts.
Martin’s previous work mainly consisted of murals and portraits of children, her mediums of choice being oil and acrylic paints. “I had never planned on doing stuff like this—I wanted to paint babies,” says Martin. “But I do what my public wants.” Depending on size, each character she does takes anywhere from one to two hours. Martin doesn’t see her craft as destroying someone else’s art, but as actually making it better. “I’m sure someone loved them at one time,” she says referring to the landscape paintings. After seeing how much people liked the paintings, Jimmy bought as many landscapes as he could find at local thrift stores and gave them to Kat for Christmas.
As of right now, all of the art is on pre-existing landscapes, but Martin says, “Painting my own may be less exhausting than driving around searching thrift stores for them.” Martin has purposely left out vampires due to the Twilight/True Blood phenomenon. According to her, “Vampires are too hot right now, although I have a painting of Elvis that would make a good vampire.” Of the fictional beasts and creatures she paints, Martin’s favorite is “Nessie.” “She is just so peaceful.” she says, “She just swims around and relaxes. That is my kind of monster.”