I have been painting for as long as I can remember. I grew up in Medellín, Colombia, and throughout my childhood my mother sent me to art classes. At the age of twelve I began painting with oils and received classical, academic training from Mariela Ochoa, a graduate from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and later with Libe de Zulategüi. At 17 I studied architecture at Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana, and I came to Philadelphia to attend Moore College of Art in 1973. In the 80's, when the men of my family died, I went back to Colombia, and with my mother, we moved to the cattle ranch in the Cauca region of Antioquía, Colombia, and that's when I started painting landscapes. By expressing myself through them I experienced the power of nature, and my whole career took a meaningful path that has carried me on since then.
I returned to the U.S.A. when the Socio-Political situation in Colombia was still very dangerous. I arrived in Philadelphia with a suitcase full of paintings and had a show at Gallery Les Amis. By great luck, Jane Golden, the director of the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, invited me to paint murals.
The Philadelphia Mural Arts Program was founded in the early 1980s as a means of beautifying and raising social awareness in city neighborhoods gravely affected by post-industrial blight and social inequity. My murals for the program often bring together city walls left bare by the demolition of neighboring buildings with the brilliant colors and gorgeous shapes of nature. It’s a thrill to confront a surface of gigantic dimensions and then create sketches based on a mixture of research, interviews to discover what community members would like, and memories of all the beauty I have been exposed to in Columbia and in the United States. While my paintings fulfill my desire to share the beauty I love, they also become a voice for the community. As a painter working on murals in Philadelphia’s inner-city neighborhoods, I feel as though I am helping to restore people’s hopes by providing both beauty and social empowerment for the people where my murals are situated.
I always come back to the comfort of nature. In the Northeastern United States (Maine, Up-State New York, Rhode Island, and Pennsylvania) a new door was opened for me, and I began to express myself in a more harmonic pallete. I keep well connected to Colombia through periodic trips to "El Oriente and El Suroeste, Antioqueño."
Painting is a way of life for me, one that I would not change. I do not question my calling; painting is my life’s joy, my eternal love, my path. As a landscape painter and a muralist, I especially enjoy working outdoors with all elements of the natural environment. I have spent hours painting at peace without being aware of anything except for the light and color. Like any craft, painting is mastered by doing it all the time. My aim is to be the best painter I can be. In my painting, I am trying to obtain the feeling of completeness that I find in nature. Nature mixes colors, forms, shapes, and is real, universal and unselfish. I like to think of my art work as a joyful dance to the greatness of nature, and of the way I paint as a reflection of the optimism and energy inside of me. It is also my way of connecting with the spirits of others who share my love of nature and also of awakening some to care about the natural world.