“Gumbo Beginnings” (Humble Beginnings Series) oil on panel, 18 x 24 inches, 2017

“Gumbo Beginnings” was my most challenging painting so far.

I began painting it late last year and finished it at the end of March. When I was finished and was getting ready to share it on social media, for some reason I was extremely anxious, which was unusual. I think because I had poured so much of myself into it and I was forced to paint in ways that were new to me, I experienced some anxiousness. I loved it, but was it as good as I thought? It was a strange feeling. I didn’t like it.

I paint for me first, but I also paint for other people. The people that follow me online, the people that support me. I want my collectors and supporters to like what I produce. It’s only natural. I think part of the anxiety stemmed from how extremely personal this painting is. It shows a side of me that not many people have seen outside of my family and close friends. The crazy part is that even though I’d never shared that part many people seemed to know it anyway. They had the same experiences. Someone in a comment on Facebook even mentioned that the kitchen in the painting looked eerily similar to there’s. How weird!

The feedback that I received from that painting was immense and amazing. I was overwhelmed with positive feedback and saw pretty much no negativity. Wow. I’m extremely thankful for those who support me and that it why I have started blogging again. I want you all to be able to connect with me through my art, but also just to me, because if you can’t understand where I come from how can you understand my art. I hope for these posts give a little more insight into who I am.

Humble Beginnings is a series of paintings that I am still in the process of creating. The word humble, known to me before I knew the actual definition, was a beautiful word. A word bestowed on people who we admire because of how down to earth and relatable they are, but when I researched the meaning of the word it wasn’t something that you would really want to be described as.

Humble; having or showing a modest or low estimate of one’s own importance.

I guess the definition I was really thinking of was Humility, but that just didn’t flow with beginnings ya know? So humble it is.

Then I started to think about it. The definition was true. How could you possess humility if you never experienced being humble? If you’ve never been made to feel a certain way because of your means or a certain situation. I think many people can relate. After all only 1% of the population in America possesses most of the wealth. The thing is for me being humble is an experience. Sure people born into wealth whether it be small or immense can have humility, but if you don’t know what it’s like to be in a certain position you just don’t know.

Coming up with this series I wanted to express who I am at this moment and who I’ve been all my life. What I mean by this is I always strive for honesty in my art. If it’s one thing people can relate to it’s honesty. That’s part of the reason I love painting realism, of course most of my paintings have a surrealist edge. Humble Beginnings is about where you’ve started and how this is only the beginning. It relates to my artistry, my career, me as a person and everyone who has ever been humbled by life.

Gumbo is a dish (my absolute favorite), that I grew up on. My grandmother made it and she taught my mother how to make it. In this painting my mother was teaching me how to make it. I thought, let me capture this image now because this is important. My grandfather was born in raised in New Orleans, but my mom was raised in New York like me. Gumbo is a dish that is so filled with culture it literally nourishes the soul. They may no longer be here, but having that piece of them–always–is priceless.

I like to play with lighting a lot in my work. Having the bright light from the range hood made me think of God, the universe, angels, of purity. Having that spotlight so to speak I think really helped to create that surreal atmosphere. My mother is someone who is extremely important to me and also the star of the painting, besides the gumbo of course. She inspires me daily, which I’m sure will lead to more paintings with her in them.

Work in progress 🙂

Humble Beginnings, like the name suggests is only the beginning of a series of delicious new creations.


Thanks for reading,