We got the chance to speak with painter and angler Jorge Martinez, a lifetime native of southern Florida. The fish species of Biscayne Bay inspire Jorge’s incredibly realistic oil paintings, which he crafts from memory and without reference photos. Check out more about Jorge’s passions for fly fishing, painting, and preserving southern Florida’s natural treasures below!
Flylords: What role has fishing played in your life?
Jorge: I spent my first years growing up in South Florida, mainly Miami. We would spend our summers going back and forth to the keys in, on, and around the water. When I was 10 years old my mom and dad moved me to Punta Gorda, Florida where I spent most of my teenage years. At the time Punta Gorda was a simple, small-town community with lots of open space and access to freshwater lakes and Charlotte Harbor’s shallow water fishery.
When the school bus would take me home from school to my grandparents house my grandma was always ready to go and take me to fish the seawall at Bill Baggs State Park on Key Biscayne. My interest in fishing only continued to grow as I spent my days fishing and exploring these wild places with my friends. Fishing has always been just a getaway for me. There are no rules and no boundaries and it is just you and your interaction with nature. Now my fishing serves as the main inspiration for my art.
Flylords: When did your interest in art begin?
Jorge: My interest in art began as a kid. From a young age, I was always drawing what my interests were. I still have some of my own drawings from when I was as young as my son is now. I always thought I would end up in the art industry, but I could have never imagined I would end up in fine art selling my paintings as a career.
Flylords: How does fishing inspire your work?
Jorge: Fishing is one of my greatest passions. Being able to paint these elusive fish is a way to memorialize my short-lived interactions with the fish and bring me back to those moments. Living in South Florida, I have not taken anything for granted. I am a fly angler, but I have access to such a diverse terrain of fishing and I love to explore all of it. Fishing is as large a part of my life as my art, and I would not have one without the other. My only hope is that my kids love it as much as I do and I can show them what this great state has to offer.
Flylords: What are the steps in your artistic process?
Jorge: I basically come up with an idea, usually inspired by a previous fishing trip, and then use that to formalize what I want to see on the canvas. As the painting starts to come together I try to remember each and every detail from the fins of the fish to the shadow it casts in the water to the blades of seagrass on the sea bottom. With each memory, those details start to come alive.
Flylords: Is there a particular message or theme you try to communicate with your art?
Jorge: Most of my paintings are my take on what happens right before the fish eats the fly. As an angler what you see is above the water, and my art tries to depict what is happening below.
Flylords: What do you hope people experience when they see your work?
Jorge: Just as my art takes me back to a time or moment of my own fishing adventures, I hope other people see my art and experience the same as it relates to their own fishing stories and moments.
Flylords: How are you and your community working to preserve your local marine habitats and species?
Jorge: Just recently we put together a collective of local, veteran fishing guides in Biscayne Bay and began a partnership with Biscayne National Park service to exchange information to better protect the park and its resources. Preserving local marine habitat has to be a collaborative effort.
Flylords: How can people best support southern Florida’s conservation goals?
Jorge: Understanding what the problem is: the state of Florida has a crisis with polluted freshwater runoff and the way it’s discharged. Keeping our waters clean is essential.
Flylords: How can people best support your business?