palette Artist Interview: Spotlight On Hayes Martens

by Hayes Martens

Published in Issue No. 243 ~ August, 2017

"Prized Possession" by Hayes Martens

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"Prized Possession" by Hayes Martens

A self-taught artist, Hayes Martens works primarily in graphite, watercolor, and oil. His bucolic gallery reflects the austere setting in which he and his wife are raising their daughter in northern Missouri. This rural life is the subject of much of his work. Commissions keep Hayes busy, but he’s found time to challenge himself with new mediums over the years. He’s even found a way into the niche market of social media sales, auctioning off artwork in the comments section of his photo collection. Hyperrealism is this artist’s passion, although his gallery reflects a more diverse range than realism alone.

We caught up with this artist to find out a little more about drives his work and how he got to wear he is today.  Read on to learn more about Hayes Martens’ work. 


 What’s your backstory?

I live in rural north Missouri near the Amish community of Jamesport, with my wife (Kelly) and our six-year-old daughter (Quincie). We have a small herd of Registered Black Angus Cattle on our modest 100-acre farm. I have always been drawn to drawing and painting, and especially realism work. Having cattle and living in a rural area, I’ve enjoyed creating scenes with barns, rural culture and its animals. After our daughter arrived, the need to create a secondary income escalated my art career and it’s taken off from there.

Tell us a little bit about your education. Where did you go to school, and what did you study?

I have a degree in history and a minor in geography. I consider my art to be self-taught, but my “formal” training in art came from art classes with Walt Miller in high school several decades ago (1988 graduate). He helped lay a foundation of skills, and seeing things as they are, that now comes second nature to me. My mother’s sister was quite creative and very influential in starting me on drawing and exploring paints at a very young age. I had a childhood neighbor that was very talented at drawing and he eventually became a sign painter. He too was an inspiration for me to pursue art. I currently consult a good family friend (current elementary art teacher) as a secondary person with a trained eye. It’s helpful to have these professionals in my life to mentor me. I’ve always told them that they are the artists, I just draw and paint stuff.

What do you do now, and what projects are you working on putting together in the future?
Well, I’m an artist. I am currently working on a Federal Duck Stamp submission, as well as a submission for the Michigan Duck Stamp. I also have four other works in progress that I’m using to build a portfolio. Apparently, gallerists like to see a cohesive body of work and not just a bunch of images that I think are cool. I’ve submitted a wide variety (in medium and style) to galleries in the past and I’ve always been turned down. I’m not currently seeking galleries to represent me, but if the time comes that I want to try it again, I want to be better prepared. I’ve been submitting to several juried group exhibitions this year and seem to have had some success with that. I’ve had eight pieces juried into ten different exhibitions so far in 2018. In 2014, 2015, and 2016 I sold an original “sketch” every day on my Facebook page. Over 1,000 originals sold in three years and it became a grind. I was also taking on commissions and selling prints of other works. This allowed my wife the opportunity to leave her career as a bovine embryologist and be a stay-at-home mother to Quincie.

What is your personal philosophy, and how is it reflected in your artwork? What artists are you influenced by, and what would you say your work is characterized by?
So here’s a little disclaimer; I do not mean to offend, disrupt, or discredit anyone’s art. Having said that, I cannot create something that I cannot see. The Barnett Newman “Onement IV” that sold for $48.3 million in 2013 is a f**cking line on a blue canvas. Seriously? Some poor soul wasted good money on something they could have created themselves. So having said that, I generally float around realism with a little surrealism now and then. I enjoy the many genres within realism but just cannot manufacture something that I cannot see with my own eyes. I respect any artist, even abstract artists. The art world is tough, and if you can succeed in it, you have my respect. I do admire a few abstract works as well, but it’s a very few.

What mediums do you use most often and what about these draw you in?
I enjoy working in oils and graphite the best. But like most artists I know, my studio is filled with a multitude of supplies. I just don’t know how to properly use them all. I’ve actually got a 4′ x 6′ watercolor that I’m working on of a farm scene with a mountain background. So, I guess I work in several mediums, but I do have my favorites. I think portrait drawings are fun to do in hyperrealism.

To learn more about Hayes Martens, visit his website at
For questions, comments or commissions, reach out at
Peruse his work on Facebook at, and visit Twitter or Instagram (@Hayes_Martens) for even more from Hayes Martens.