Toro Martinez always begins his new art projects with preliminary sketches, and as often as possible paints his landscapes based on careful observations of natural light and physical settings. He describes his sketches as simple “internal thinking and conversations,” as he mulls over his subject matter and considers possible choices of colors he wishes to apply. His thought processes and creative approach are much like that of a novelist who writes and rewrites scenes.
Martinez paints daily, and his choice of figurative or abstract renderings depend on his mood. When the weather permits, which is often in San Antonio, Martinez drives to the trails and banks of Salado Creek near his home to paint small oil nature sketches. His oil paintings, often 10×10 inches in size, serve as the ideal “study works” for his larger pieces. His “Coming Home for the Night,” for example, is a large oil painting [102×66 in.], and a rendering from one of his studies.
Tall oaks and green shrubs are a hallmark of the Salado Creek which flows for more than 15 miles from west to east in a northern section of San Antonio. The creek has an interesting San Antonio history. Following the 1691 “discovery” of the San Antonio River and San
Pedro Springs, the intrepid Spanish explorers marched north and came up the Arroyo Salado. The Indians of this region, bands of the Coahuiltecan tribe, had camped and hunted along these waterways for more than ten thousand years.
Today Salado Creek is more than a scenic space for Martinez. It is also one of his favorite spots to find discarded material to use for his creative works. As a conservationist, Martinez frequently devotes weekends to the cleanup of the creek. Heavy rainfall or storms brings trash such as plastic bags to the creek from the adjacent bedroom communities. Martinez helps to pick up the trash and has some of it shredded into confetti like material which he colors and attaches to his canvas.