Former Board of Education President Donna Frazier stands with Hoover High graduate Jeremy Martin, who drew a portrait of her to celebrate her 10 years of service. The portrait includes images of Spain Park High and Hoover High below her face and names of all 16 Hoover schools surrounding the picture. Photo by Roy L. Williams.
Carolyn Martin first noticed her son Jeremy’s talent for art when he began drawing using a set of art pencils and paper his grandmother gave him at age 5.
“Jeremy had a God-given talent that just got better the older he got,” Martin recalled.
In May, Jeremy Martin’s talent was on public display when a portrait he drew of Hoover Board of Education President Donna Frazier drew rave reviews from attendees of her last board meeting.
Martin, who graduated from Hoover High on May 21, feels honored to receive accolades for doing something he loves. A self-taught artist who has never taken any lessons, Martin is now making plans now to attend art school, most likely at the Savannah College of Art and Design. It’s the first step in a process he hopes will lead to opening an art studio of his own.
The portrait of Frazier is typical of the originality he puts into his works. Using a photo as a guide, Martin used acrylic and graphite to paint a smiling Frazier, wearing a blouse that incorporated the images of Spain Park High School and Hoover High School. The portrait included the Hoover school crest and was bordered by the names of all 16 schools in the city school system.
New Board of Education President Derrick Murphy knew Martin was the perfect person to paint Frazier’s portrait when he came up with the idea. He had seen the talent first-hand when Martin painted a portrait of him a few years ago.
“Jeremy is incredibly gifted,” Murphy said.
Frazier, an avid art collector, said Martin’s painting has a special place in her home.
“It’s the best gift my fellow board members could have gotten me,” she said. “Having served on the school board for 10 years, to have something so beautiful done by one of our students makes it even better.”
Martin said he grew up with a fascination for drawing.
“I was always the best artist in class,” Martin said. “I could just look at something and be able to draw it.”
Martin’s artwork has gotten national notice. Earlier this year, he won a Golden Key award, placing in the Top 4 percent out of 300,000 entries in a national painting contest. He has won a Bluff Park art scholarship, Art Alliance scholarship and two Alabama Blue Ribbon District Awards for his work.
The Martin home is filled with various portraits and still pieces he has drawn over the years. Several of his artwork are on display on his Instagram accounts at Jeremy_Martin45 and JMart_Supreme_Arts.
Martin said his favorite current artist is Kehinde Wiley of Brooklyn, who is known for portraits of people of color in heroic poses.
“He did one portrait of the rapper Kaheem from the hit Fox series ‘Empire,’” Martin said. “He uses vibrant patterns in the background.”
Martin has lofty dreams, envisioning one day designing and selling his own clothing line. He already has a style for fashion, painting his own design on sneakers and wearing handcrafted bead bracelets.
His advice for other young artists: Don’t give up on your dreams.
“If you love art, keep working on it and you will get better,” Martin said. “Don’t let criticism stop you. Move on to the next piece. Eventually, you will find people who like your art.”