We are thrilled to have Amy Martin in our Christmas show again this year (for information, see below). Besides being a terrific artist, Amy is also a veteran and a bad@!! Black Hawk aviator.
In a quiet town in the snow belt, a bit south of Lake Erie in Pennsylvania, I grew up playing baseball, building forts in the woods, playing Atari, and riding my bike to the community pool. When I was fourteen, I bought a Terry Gambit road bike and spent the summer riding miles into the countryside where I hid my bike between corn rows and hiked through fields with a backpack filled with paints and an easel. I spent my days painting landscapes, then strapped the wet oil painting to my backpack to ride home for dinner. I read Dear Theo that summer, Vincent Van Gogh’s letters to his brother. The descriptions of his paintings filled most every page and influenced my vision of the natural world and the ways I painted it. I began to focus on using color to depict how I felt about the world around me rather than just what I saw.
My love of reading, writing, and painting has always been fused. I graduated from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania with a BA in Creative Writing and a minor in Painting in 1995. My oil and acrylic paintings are of the natural world and are often created plein air as they were when I was younger. I sometimes take my old canvases and paint over them while leaving pieces of the original work in view. A lake might become a cup of tea resting on a picnic blanket; a red clay desert floor flipped might become a new sky.
After college, I worked as a house painter for a construction company in Eugene, OR–– putting my skills with paint and brush to work to pay the rent after moving cross-country. I worked alongside and learned painting techniques from their head painter who was also an accomplished artist painter. I found a housemate from an ad in the Eugene library who was a student painter at the University and we covered our living room in brown butcher paper to protect the carpet and spent our evenings easel-to-easel painting together. We have been lifelong friends made through art.
I also worked as a cook in Montana, Utah, and in remote sport-fishing camps in Alaska to experience new adventures, to write, and to find new landscapes to paint. It was in Alaska, flying low in bush planes over iridescent landscapes that I often sketched out the world for later paintings. I kept copious journals filled with writings and sketches of fish and water.
Alaska is where I also gained an affinity for flying. I won a scholarship from Women in Aviation and Cessna and earned my Private Pilot Fixed Wing Rating in 2000. After three years paying the bills as an anti-piracy specialist for Microsoft, I made a snap decision to join the Army to become a helicopter pilot. But the recruiters said they didn’t want to waste their time on me. The flight program was tough to get into and I was too old (almost 29), too small (5’2”), and too “female.” Obviously—that left me no choice but to drop everything and force my way in. I went over their heads, did my own paperwork and was accepted into the Army’s Warrant Officer Flight Program in 2002 and graduated from flight school the next year as a UH-60 Blackhawk Helicopter Pilot. I flew air assault and V.I.P. missions in South Korea and served as a medevac pilot in Fairbanks, AK where we flew rescue missions to save civilians. During my two years in Korea, I often painted both the Seoul cityscape as well as their patchwork farm fields and flowers. In Alaska, I loved to fly low and gaze at the vibrant mixture of colors of the world and never grew tired of the tangled rivers that unfolded below me. My aerial paintings are a result of those hours spent looking down and out.
I met my partner Steve while flying together in Korea and we had our daughter Margo in 2008 after which I served out my remaining year stationed at Ft. Lewis in WA. Then, I took employment with Boeing in Supplier Management on the KC-46 Tanker Program and later, the 777X. In June 2016, I left Boeing to use my GI Bill and earn an MFA in Creative Writing at Goddard College (Port Townsend, WA, 2019). I now work as a painter and freelance writer from my home office and studio on Camano Island. I spent the last few years writing (and rewriting) a flight memoir. If you’d like to get on the waitlist for my book (and also see more of my art)—follow the link to my website:
My experiences flying, living, and working outdoors have been great influences on my both my writing and painting. I seek to bring those perspectives to my art.
Christmas on Camano
- Saturdays, December 7 & 14
- Caroling at 10am and 2pm
Learn more about our Christmas show here: