I was classically trained. Rembrandt, Vermeer, Goya and Velazquez were the masters we studied, whose legacies I claimed as my own. My paintings were figurative. Early on in my formative years my palette was a Baroque one, muted, and controlled focusing on the human quality of the sitter and allowing them to emerge from the paint. Drawing was my biggest and strongest foundation. Everything was build on that foundation. Drawing transitioned from an elemental tool to a full fledged form of expression. I loved making mural sized drawings with charcoal pencil…the sensation of walking into the image was intoxicating. For years this was my preferred form of expression.Printmaking also played a role in this traditional fine art training.
The ability to express my emotions through art was powerful. I kept coming back to it. My commitment to become an artist came to me as a teenager. Looking back now it makes it clear that it was a calling, not a choice.
The years in Italy brought so much beauty, stimulation, and clarity to my own work. Many magical things occurred around my art those years. The golden light in Rome revealed a shocking tropical palette, turquoise, pinks, yellows and greens all over a self portrait I was working on. I didn’t know how to contain it….Those colors were everywhere, and it made sense.
I was born in the Dominican Republic and my sense of color was formed there, it just needed the layers to be peeled back.Approaching a blank canvas or paper with big strokes suited me best….making marks allowed for immediate expression. So why gold leaf?
I have a dear friend who is a master gold leaf painter. We visited together, and she had included my art in a book she’d written about how to use gold leaf. Two things happened: I saw her paintings in person and was moved, and she gave me a copy of the book. Once home, I tried the first three lessons, and suddenly I had 30 pieces!
I like big, bold, expressive strokes with brush and paint. Gold leaf is delicate, light. It’s like working with butterfly wings that constantly want to stick to itself. It requires tremendous care, patience, and planning. Qualities I pray for because they don’t come easily to me.
Using gold leaf has completely changed my art in the most profound way. It’s become abstract and inclusive, tiny pieces seem monumental, and the illumination of the medium is intoxicating.
In conjunction with using gold leaf, my connection to the divine became greater and active during my studio practice. I was letting go of all the skill and tools I’d honed over all my years as an artist. I’d approach a piece completely open, and it emerged, surprising me, and engaging the viewer in a completely new way.
I had a meeting with a scholar in the studio who kept asking me why I used gold leaf, I’d answer quickly, lightly, then she’d ask me again, until she assisted me in uncovering something profound.
Something dislodged from my subconscious, and it came to the surface. The Dominican Republic and Haiti ( share the same island) were the very first colony established by Christopher Columbus for Spain, and the gold was stripped from the land.