Carmen Martorella traded a calculator for a paintbrush when she retired, and now uses her art to both feed her soul and give back to the community

After a career working with numbers, Carmen Martorella traded her calculator and spreadsheets for brushes and canvases.

The Val Caron-born artist, who likes to emphasize the “art” in his last name, studied at Sudbury Secondary School with legendary art teacher Jack Smith, and considered attending Ontario College Toronto Art and Design. But she chose reason over passion and she enrolled in the economics program at Cambrian College. She pursued a “safe and secure” job as an accountant.

Prior to his retirement, he was a supervisor at the Canada Revenue Agency. In her free time she has taken art classes, workshops and self-studied online.

Now she is fulfilling her dreams by dedicating herself to painting whenever she wants, working with oils, acrylics and watercolors and studying mixed media such as recycled products.

“I like trying different things like pointillism and sprinkling watercolor powder on different pieces,” she said.

It comes from his creativity of course. Her mother is Gina Martorella, owner of Gina’s Fashions on Elgin Street, and was well known for the beautiful custom wedding dresses she created.

“Mum is still alive. She’s 86…she doesn’t sew anymore, but now she cooks. I made a series of YouTube cooking videos with her…all her recipes,” Martorella said. “People went crazy for them.”

“It’s on my to-do list to make a cookbook and sell it to raise money for Sudbury Food Bank,” she said.

Martorella is the former president of the Sudbury Art Club, which meets twice a week at the Carmichael Community Center on Bellevue Avenue.

“It’s good to paint together, because we get ideas from each other…we kind of educate each other,” he said. “We had 110 members (before 2020) now we are at 68, but the numbers are increasing.”

While inspired by the four-season beauty of northeastern Ontario landscapes, Martorella is a snowbird and seeks a change of scenery during the winter months. The ocean is her muse, she said.

“There is nothing quite like plein air (painting) with natural light.”

Last July, Martorella took on the challenge of painting in front of an audience creating music-influenced art at the Northern Lights Festival Boréal.

“It was a lot of fun. I really got into the zone. I had a big 40 by 40 canvas and I was freaking out. I talked to a lot of people and the kids were fascinated by it… It’s such a good combination of art and music.”

Earlier this year, Martorella was saddened by news of the conflict in Ukraine.

“It really broke my heart to see those people suffer because of greed and power. I felt compelled to do something, to paint the sunflower.”

The sunflower has been a symbol of peace throughout the history of Ukraine.

He created cards from a painting of a sunflower and sold them online, by word of mouth, and at various art shows. She raised $1,800 from card sales in Canada and the United States and donated the money to help the people of Ukraine.

In honor of Remembrance Day, she made and sold poppy prints and bookmarks with partial proceeds donated to the Royal Canadian Legion Poppy Campaign.

During the pandemic, he created face masks featuring northern scenes which were sold at the Art Gallery of Sudbury gift shop.

“I want my art to matter,” she said. “My trading name is Art & Soul.” I like to paint “when something inspires me, it touches my heart”.

The artist willingly shares his knowledge and skills by offering art lessons and it is the process of resuming his teaching that has been interrupted by the pandemic.

Vicki Gilhula is a freelance writer in Greater Sudbury. Arts and culture are made possible through our Community Leaders program.

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