Honoring my Ybor roots.
Ybor City holds tons of history, memories and traditions for me. It is where my family settled down when they arrived from Cuba. My mother was born there. Ybor is where I first started painting, where I had my first meeting with the man I married and where I eventually had my “wedding” less than a year after that meeting.
For this piece, I took a detour away from acrylics and went back to my painting roots, which are deeply embedded in the city. Back in 2002, after having issues with gaining access to required art courses at USF, I transfered to HCC and took the bulk of my prerequisites there. That was probably the best decision of my entire college career. It was at the HCC Ybor campus that I had the pleasure of having Stephen Holm as my painting professor. I had painted a few times before college, but only with tempura, which I wasn’t fond of. With Holm, it was all oils, all day. I HATED it in the beginning. The paint was slow to dry, it seemed to just slide all over my canvas, the solvent fumes were nauseating and the paint was kind of pricey. After a few rough paintings, I was hooked. I figured out which solvent worked for me. Most used linseed oil or turpentine, I went for mineral spirits. I developed a small color palette, which I still keep to. No, Phthalo Green is NOT in there, sorry Bob Ross. Holm pushed me like no other instructor ever had or would. I even stayed a bit extra after my AA, just because their art faculty was so solid.
Oil painting only lasted a short bit after I left HCC. I did a handful during a painting course at USF, but once I had finished that course, I wouldn’t touch the stuff. Now, some 12 or so years later, I dove back into the world of oils. I can’t say it was a cake walk, but it was a good time. How the smells and feeling of the paint slipping around on my panel brought back memories.
So yeah, Ybor is a pretty special place for me. Aside from those big moments, Ybor is home to some of my favorite local grub. I’ve raved about La Segunda Central Bakery in a previous post, so it’s not surprising that I chose to honor it with a piece of art. Their bread is super, coffee is great, but there is one little gem that always sings to me from behind the glass case. It is the adorable cherry cookie (red, NOT green). I’m not sure why I am such a huge fan of this cookie. I generally have a policy of no fruit in my sweets, but the cherry is so delightfully chewy that it feels more like eating candy than fruit. Then there’s the cookie part, which is crumbly, but moist and wonderfully buttery.
This little piece was such a blast to work on AND I got to eat my subject, that’s just double awesome.