When most people think of painting tools, they imagine one object: the humble, age-old brush. Some of the more experienced art lovers among us might think of palette knives, oil sticks, or sponges. For painter Martin Lambuth, even these are too ordinary. Lambuth creates his distinctive painting using credit cards.
Lambuth spent 40 years of his career working in graphic design, but transitioned to painting 12 years ago. “Computers came along midway through my graphic design career,” Lambuth says. “That was when I decided to go back to the hands-on aspect of the arts, to make things that weren’t generated by a machine.”
What subjects have inspired you recently?
“Recently, I’ve become known for painting vintage trucks. When I travel to art shows around the country, my wife and I keep an eye out for old trucks hidden on the side of the road, which we photograph. We try to crisscross the back-county roads to find these things. I’m not really a truck guy; for me, the attraction is the nostalgia, the Americana, and the history.”
How did you start using credit cards to paint?
“Coming from my graphic design and illustration background, I felt I was getting too tight, too detailed, too realistic when I painted with a brush. I was looking for ways to loosen up. I experimented with a variety of other oddball things—wine corks, chunks of plastic—until finally I stumbled on credit cards. Initially I just used them to create a stroke here or there on an existing painting. Then I started playing around with them more, and it evolved to the point where I was doing whole paintings with them.”
What are you currently working on?
“With the holiday coming up, I have a lot of commissions, especially for the old truck paintings. I think a lot of people relate to them for the same reasons I do, the nostalgia and the history. They remember growing up and having an old truck in the family, whether it was their dad’s, their uncle’s, their brother’s. I’ve gotten commissions to paint specific trucks that mean something to specific people. This has given me the opportunity to personalize my work by putting in different things from my customers’ lives—farmhouses, cabins, and other objects of meaning.”
Where he shows his work
Lambuth participates in various art shows across the country in the spring and summer. His works is shown at Framed Image in Denver, Gallery 166 in Vail, the Stoneheart Gallery in Evergreen, the West Lives On Gallery in Jackson Hole, Wyo., the Nancy Cawdrey Gallery in Whitefish, Mont., the Hands of Time Gallery in Lindsborg, Kan., and elsewhere.