Updated: Mar 19, 2021
My grandfather, Cico, was my first art teacher. He was an alcoholic, a lawyer and my favorite person in this entire universe till this day.
He had a small studio in the rear of the patio. It consisted of a modest room filled with books and a table with his oil paints and brushes. I kept some of those brushes which I still use today.
There was an easel, a hammock that smelled like alcohol and cigarettes, and a single lightbulb hanging from a string in the middle of a bare ceiling. I used to love that space especially if he was in there painting.
I could watch him paint for hours. He would teach me how to mix colors and I especially remember the day he showed me how he painted water.
It seemed magical to me how he explained that water reflects the objects around it and the shimmering way he seemed to capture the light with his paints. I remember that moment as if it was yesterday. I must have been around six years old then.
My grandmother Pity……. I have to take a pause while millions of thoughts invade my mind as I try to put her down on paper. She was a tormented soul on the other hand.
Later on, during my early twenties, I learned of something that made it clear why she was the way she was. But growing up, I never understood.
Who knows, now-a-days she might have been diagnosed as bipolar. I’ve come to realize that her emotions, triggered by her thoughts, got the best of her most of the time.
Later on in life I also learned that she was the one that had taught my grandfather how to paint. It seems that at some point, she had operated a small art school in her garage.
She was a seamstress and a very good one with a razor-sharp eye for details. My mother would design the costumes for her dance performances and my grandmother would execute them beautifully.
Grandma was my first Guru. For what seemed like endless nights when my mother was not home, my grandmother would teach me about God, the spirit world, and regale me with anecdotes of her home town, Mompox.
She was an amazing story teller, fantastic at painting pictures with words and gestures. It was a nurturing experience when she was doing fine, but then there were the other times when her reveries would turn bleak. She seemed a revolving door of contradictions to me.
I remember her taking me to my room once, locking the door and turning off the lights. She then proceeded to mortify me by telling me that the devil would come and eat me if I did not tell her where my mother was.
She insisted that I was crucifying Jesus over and over again every time I told a lie. I must have been five or six at the time and the devil never came.