Delaware artist won’t let Parkinson’s disease stop love of painting [video]

Retired art teacher George Martz’s love for painting stretches back over 20 years, and he’s not leting Parkinson’s disease stop him.

For over 20 years, George Martz taught art at the Tower Hill School in Wilmington. It was a great experience for him, and he carries the inspiration it gave with him today.

“It was a wonderful place to teach. We had the flexibility to explore all different things from ice sculpture to totem poles. That flexibility allowed me to explore a lot of things with students that I hadn’t done before and the inspiration that they gave me helped me get started in my own painting.”

Martz got started in his current style through a series of paintings he did on his study of clouds. The places seen in his paintings are imaginary, inspired by things like a trip to Switzerland, or something closer to home like driving through Hockessin.

“I started drawing on a trip in Amsterdam. I would get on a tram and come to a stop and draw quickly what I saw outside the window. Then I would go to the next stop and I would add something more, and before you knew it I had an imaginary place that was based on six or seven different situations.”

Art is subjective of course, but when asked what he wanted people to take away from the experience of seeing his work, Martz said,  “I hope they can escape into the painting, there are certain ones that I’m trying to express a certain thing, like a loneliness or a distance or depth.”

Not slowing down

Martz was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease about 15 years ago, but he doesn’t let that stop him. He sets up his studio ahead of time, so when he is steady he can just sit and paint.

“It’s therapy for me, when I get up and paint at night I could have a very steady hand and I paint. It just flows. It’s a good way to relieve stress. It’s like entering a different world, I think if I didn’t have that I wouldn’t be doing as well as I am with my Parkinson’s.”

Painting for the love of it, not for profit is what drives Martz. It gives him a sense of accomplishment even after 15 years of Parkinson’s. “It gives me a lot of satisfaction that I can still function. I don’t like talking about Parkinson’s, but after 15 years of being diagnosed with it, to still be able to function and produce something that’s respectable, it gives me personal satisfaction that I can accomplish something still.”

He’s able to leave a legacy of his work that he hopes is enjoyed in someone’s home for years to come. “It’s very humbling. I don’t just paint to sell paintings. It makes me feel good if I know my painting is in a home where it’s appreciated, it gives you the satisfaction of accomplishment.”

“It’s a journey, a sort of mystical journey depending on how I’m dealing with things in life.”

You can see more samples of Martz’s work in the slideshow below. His show at The Station Gallery can be seen through April 26th.

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