Adorada Mama Polita – Portrait Painting

Recently I completed this portrait painting of my children’s great-great grandmother from Ambato, Ecuador, on the side of my ex-wife’s family. This is an oil painting on a linen canvas.

Oil Portrait Painting

Initially, I thought I would publish this portrait painting in a blog post and write about her myself. But then I thought, who better to describe her than her own granddaughter who grew up living with her? So I asked her to write something that I could share.

Adorada Mama Polita

“Mama Polita was my maternal grandmother that lived with my parents and me from the time I was born. She would wake up at 4:30 a.m. and kneel in front of her alter and pray for 2 hours. I would sneak into her bedroom (at least I thought I was sneaking in….) and just listen to her pray and admire her devotion.

Mama Polita loved to garden and to be in nature. She was always nurturing the flowers, plants, and trees that she planted. (And she was also nurturing me.) I remember that she planted a peach tree in front of our home in Alexandria, VA. She would make peach marmalade with the peaches. So delicious.

She also loved to cook and bake. She made delicious dishes from Ecuador – her mother country that she missed so much. For the holidays, she would create feasts of so many dishes.

My grandmother was also an amazing storyteller. I would listen intently as she told colorful and vivid stories of the Bible, her childhood in Ecuador, and the many impassioned family members. These are stories that have left a lifetime of poignant memories for me. I have passed down those stories to my children, and I hope they will pass the stories on to their children. I’m helping with that as well 😊

My grandmother carried the beauty of music in her blood. From my birth until she passed away at 89 years old – I always remember her playing the guitar, singing classic music from the Andes – pasillos, valses, pasacalles, and yarabi (to name a few), and dancing.

She was also always writing… I have journals upon journals of hers – including poetry. What a bright light she was in my life. She saved me. She was my nurturer. Something my mom was not able to do…

Gracias Mama Polita. Although you had so much suffering in your life – you didn’t let that dim your light. Your legacy lives on through me, through my children, through my grandchildren, and future generations.  You will never be forgotten. And now I have this amazing painting by my son-in-law Dave White – that I will cherish and will become a family heirloom. Te quiero con todo mi corazón viejita linda.”

I did know Mama Polita’s daughter, before she passed away. Everyone called her “Mama Elsita” (her name was Elsa). She was a really talented musician, as was her mother, Mama Polita. We named my daughter Elsa after her. Elsa was conceived in Ecuador, on Mama Polita’s birthday, in a hotel that used to be a convent. It was not planned like that! We call her our immaculate conception. So we had to give her the middle name Polita (as well as June, after my grandmother, whose portrait I also want to paint one day). Here we are in front of the Mama Polita portrait painting that I framed, which is now hanging in the house of my mother-in-law.

Madrid Painting – Plaza de Oriente

This oil painting is of a sunny morning in Madrid, at the Plaza de Oriente. A guitarist was sitting at the base of this monument, playing a classical song. The melody seemed to float through the air, almost as if it were silencing the loud city sounds and slowing the pace of the hustle of people all around.

Madrid Spain Painting Plaza de Oriente

Bahia Honda, Florida Painting

Today I’m excited to get started on a painting commission of Bahia Honda Key, Florida!

As stated on floridastateparks.com:

“Along with its iconic Florida scenery — palm-lined beaches, gin-clear waters and magnificent sunsets — the park is known for balmy sea breezes that caress the shores year-round. Kayaks and snorkeling gear can be rented, and boat trips to the reef for snorkeling excursions are available.

The park is an excellent place to observe wading birds and shorebirds, while the Sand and Sea Nature Center introduces nature lovers to the island’s plants and animals.”

Wow, that sounds wonderful.

Here is the photo I’ve been given to work with:

Bahia Honda Key Florida

It’ll be an oil painting on an 18″ x 24″ canvas. I’ll share the painting here once it’s completed!

Rehoboth Beach Delaware Painting

When my family moved to a new neighborhood in Indiana when I was 12, there was another family who moved in close to our house, and they were from New York. During my teenage years, I became friends with their son who was the same age as me, and every year they would go vacation in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. In my mind, it seemed like such a far off place to me, all the way on the east coast. And I wondered – “why would someone go vacation on a beach in the mid Atlantic?”. I was accustomed to visiting my family on the gulf coast of Florida.

Many years later, I found myself living in the mid Atlantic and going to Rehoboth Beach! I love Delaware beaches, as well as the experience of driving across the Delmarva peninsula to reach them.

This painting is of a sunny day at Rehoboth Beach, full of sun, sand, water and relaxation!

Rehoboth Beach Painting Off White Wood Frame

Pour Over Coffee Painting

The pour over is an excellent way of making coffee for those that like to do things by hand (such as yours truly), given the process of pouring the water at just the right speed over the coffee grinds! I make myself one of these just about every single morning.

I’ve read that a glass vessel is great for heat-retention, compared to a ceramic one. I can attest that a ceramic one does cool off faster, since I have one, but in most cases it’s not enough that I even notice. If you were to buy one, I’d probably recommend glass first, ceramic second, and plastic last (can the heat cause chemicals in the plastic to leach out? I don’t know for sure, but probably).

Anyways, I recently finished this pour-over coffee painting. It’s of a pour-over display that I saw at a coffee shop. The gold-colored vessel stood out to me, as did the reflections on the stainless steel mug. I took some artistic liberty with the mug and didn’t paint in a realistic fashion, but rather wanted to capture the cool color palette and shapes from the reflections.

Pour Over Coffee Painting Black Wood Frame

Nerja Spain Mediterranean Sea View Painting

This painting shows a Mediterranean sea view, as seen from steps that pass through an architectural arch, down to the beach, in the Spanish coastal town of Nerja.

Nerja Spain Ocean Painting White Frame

A Carefree Painting of a Day at the Beach in Cádiz Spain

This painting was inspired by a day at the beach, many years ago, in Cádiz, Spain.

During these days of frigid cold and people fearfully wearing masks everywhere (by mandate, I would add, at least where I live), it almost seems like a fantasy dream-world to reflect back upon. The warm shining sun, the healing sand and ocean waters, an open-air market with strong sensory aromas a few blocks from the beach, kids playing free. But it was real, and I am certain is very real nowadays as well, in many places around the world.

Cadiz Beach Painting Off White Frame

A Portrait Drawing with a few Surprises upon Delivery

This is a recently commissioned pencil portrait drawing on archival, heavyweight paper that measures 12″ x 19″:

Portrait Drawing in Pencil on 12″ x 19″ Archival Heavyweight Paper

You wouldn’t know this from just looking at the photo (as I found out yesterday when I delivered it, to my surprise!), but my client was adopted by his family in Lovettsville, VA, when he was orphaned in Ethiopia and living on the streets of Addis Ababa, at 12 years old.

I also found out he was a Peace Corps Volunteer (as I was) in Samoa! However, he was forced to leave after several months there, with a 24-hour notice, due to the covid situation. We got to talking about many things…our experiences as Peace Corps Volunteers, making a difference in your local community, wherever that is in the world, returning to Ethiopia one day to do humanitarian work there, race relations, art, and more.

Two of the four people in the photo are his siblings. One is his sister-in-law and the other is an old childhood friend. He’s gifting the drawing to his brother/sister-in-law as a belated wedding gift!

As always, I’m appreciative to be able to share my artistic gifts to create special pieces of art for others.

The Beautiful Nature We Have Left – Painting of a Neighborhood Forest

It’s been a very cold winter, and while I am glad the winter is finally cold again after so many years of more temperate winters, I am still looking forward to the warmer spring!

This oil painting is of a narrow winding park in my neighborhood, through which a creek runs through.

At certain times of the year, you can observe great blue herons flying along the treetops or wading in the water. The forest is full of the sound of birds singing, all throughout the year. Occasionally you will see ducks enjoying a relaxing float down the creek. Wild blackberry bushes grow at spots along here. I’ve seen wild turkeys here, snakes wiggling their way through the water, and toads hanging out on the forest floor. There are thousands of tadpoles each spring. I’ve also seen many deer, and red foxes. An owl hoots it’s tune, which can be heard from several blocks away, at what seems like random times throughout the day. I’ve seen a cooper’s hawk in the trees, and eagles soaring above.

The value of the diverse beauty of these landscapes is immeasurable and cannot be measured in terms of dollars. Yet, land is often seen in terms of its dollar-generating potential. So forests are clear-cut and wetlands are drained. The landscape around where I live has changed considerably in the past 10 years. Many forests and wild fields have been cut, flattened, and paved over to make way for homogenous energy-draining data centers. A beautiful forest near my neighborhood was recently clear-cut for a mega-church and a data center. Another was cut down for a gas station (of which there was already a gas station a quarter mile away). My heart sinks when I pass by these places and see what has happened. Am I the only one? Does anybody else feel saddened when they see these things? I imagine so, but also know that many call this “progress”. I’m not so sure.

Some recommended books relating to these topics, that I’ve read, include Charles Eisenstein’s “Climate – A New Story”, and “Sacred Economics”, as well as Douglas Tallamy’s “Nature’s Best Hope”.

In spite of the tearing down of nature, of which I am inevitably a part of, since it is baked into the economic system that we inhabit, I am still appreciative of this patch of forest nearby. It provides a wonderful backdrop of imagination and exploration for my kids to play in, throughout all four seasons.

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