Friday, October 22, 2010

International Artist Day

"Girasoles" (Sunflowers) by Carmen Soto
October 25th is International Artist Day. This is a special day worldwide to honor artists. I've been asked to write about the artist that has influenced me the most. That's an easy one.

My mother was the first artist I ever met. She was born in Spain but moved to Cuba with my dad to raise her two young sons, and then I was born.  She was a stay-at-home mom but would paint professional photographs with oils when that technique was popular. I would watch, for hours, while she colored in the sepia tones with different oil paints.  I grew up smelling turpentine and solvents! And she would have me nearby drawing in coloring books and creating on my own. She was such a happy person and all the while music would be playing in the background! Classical, rock and roll, boleros... Other times she would sew and have me sit on her lap as she sewed in the old Singer sewing machine. I loved "helping" her!  When she wasn't painting, or sewing, she would be writing for the CMQ, which was the first Cuban t.v. station.  I remember her talking fondly about Lilia Lazo  (Popa) who was a good friend.

And then we came to Miami. And like most Cuban immigrants, in the beginning, she worked at a job she didn't like and once she got home, she would start painting and not stop until all hours of the night. That's were she found her solace. She was a self-taught artist who enjoyed giving her art work away as gifts for her friends. So her family was left with just a handful of pieces as cherished mementos. She died much too young, in her mid-fifties. Today would've been her birthday.

My mother, without doubt, is the artist that has influenced me the most and inspires me to this day. "Girasoles" was her last painting. She made this for me as she was recuperating from surgery, just prior to her death because she knew how much I loved sunflowers and daisys, and hoped it would make me happy. It does, Mami, and you did.

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I.M. said...

Today is my mother's birthday as well, born Octobber 22, 1932. She doesn't realize it's her birthday today because of her advanced Alzheimers, nor does she remember that she liked to draw and write poetry. She encouraged my sister and I to pursue the arts, buying me my first oil paints at the age of eleven.

Thank you for your touching story.


Maria Soto Robbins said...

I can not imagine what that must be like. I only wish for you to remember the happier days and hope that today is a special day, in it's own way.
Thank you for sharing that, Ivonne.

Karen Terry, Artist/Designer said...

Such a beautiful tribute! You are a special daughter! Happy Birthday to you Mom!!!

Karen Terry, Artist/Designer said...

Such a beautiful tribute! You are a special daughter! Happy Birthday to you Mom!!!

Life Is A Lark said...

Thanks for sharing your touching story. It's great that you can cherish the time you had with your mom and you have that gorgeous painting to admire and remember.

Maria Soto Robbins said...

Thank you, Bridget, you are right!
And thanks, Karen~

V---'-@ said...

This is a lovely tribute.

Patricia C Vener

Maria Soto Robbins said...

Thank you, Patricia.

Audrey said...

What a beautiful legacy and So very touching! You certainly inherited your Mother's talent.
What a wonderful inspiration my Mother is to me as well! I hope I am passing this on to my son.

Many Blessings Maria!

Maria Soto Robbins said...

Thank you, Audrey...I'm sure you are!

Paper Squid said...

What a beautiful and touching story Maria. Thank you for sharing your story and your mother's. Her painting is absolutely beautiful and a moving tribute.

Maria Soto Robbins said...

Thank you, Karyna.