Art requires perpetual and structured movement. It physically and mentally demands everything from you. Artist Donald Martin dedicates his work to nature in different forms, following the aforementioned requirements as his murals invite us to witness the breathtaking beauty found in plants and animals.

If you’ve ever walked through the Jacksonville International Airport, you have seen Martin’s artwork. Colorful murals featuring images of nature, music and culture line the walls of the building totaling 500 ft. Martin describes how taxing it was to create such large-scale murals.

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“It felt, at times, like I was running a marathon for about two years. I maintained my full-time work at Flagler College during the two years or so that I worked on the murals. The murals at the airport are a total of 500 ft long, and the physical and emotional investment was pretty steep. Working on that large of a scale is really exhausting but also very satisfying,” Martin said.

The movement of art is physically demanding on an artist’s hands, wrists and back. Martin stressed the importance of remaining physically active to combat the stress. Martin shared some of his health remedies for sore muscles.

“I am 66 years old, and I have been fairly active most of my life, but as I get older, the physical demands of making art have become more pronounced. For the last year or so, I have been carving these large detailed block prints that require hour upon hour of painstaking work. My back, neck, wrists and shoulder have all been affected. Lately, I have been getting therapeutic massages, chiropractic work, and I have been working with a personal trainer and physical therapist to stay fit and work with my posture and strength. I now do stretching before, during and after I work on carving my block prints.”

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Martin feels that the movement involved in crafting art is a primitive human instinct. He expressed his concern for people who do not experience the movement of creating a piece of work.

“I also believe there is just something basic to the human being that is enhanced with working with your hands. To make something with your hands engages your mind and spirit in some fundamental way. I am concerned that children (and the rest of us for that matter) are no longer being encouraged to make stuff with our own two hands. Instead, they stare and poke at screens, and it worries me,” Martin said.


For artists, the physical demand of creating art does not discourage them from working, as the urge to create art cannot be suppressed.

“I think most artists will tell you that art is something you ‘need’ to do not ‘want’ to do. If you don’t have the ‘need’ then you probably will not continue to do it. If I am away from my artwork for too long, I start getting physical symptoms like stomach aches and sleeplessness. I guess it is nature’s’ way of saying that it is time to get back to work. I think I am also generally less happy and satisfied with life when I am not working on something creative,” Martin said.

Martin has been teaching art on the college level for about 37 years. He finds inspiration at his home on five acres of land, where he uses the plants and animals as subjects in his work. To see more of his incredible artwork, please visit his website here.