How did this art thing all begin?

At age seven I walked out my house with a paint by numbers kit. At the time a fine art painter and house painter was painting our home. His name was Effran Aldana.

He urged me to put the kit away and come paint with him at his very small house in our town of El Monte, CA. I would walk to his place, sit at the small easel he set up, and go to work. I was very tedious and slow but he was very patient and kind and let me go at my own pace.

We would paint together for several hours per week. I loved being there. He would cook me tortillas and sing colorful Mexican songs.

After one year I completed my first painting of the bowl of cherries.

By age 9 I had finished my second painting of the oranges.

I did my last one at age 12 which was a portrait of Beethoven. Many years later that painting was found in the garage by my children who played darts on the canvas for hours before being discovered. I have tried to restore it but with minimal success.

After age 12 my interests turned completely to sports and I quit painting and playing the piano all together. There was an epic clash between my menopausal mother and my puberty.

I came back to El Monte to see Mr. Aldana when I was in college. I was stunned when his neighbor told me he had died. I wept. He was a giant of a man to me-warm, jovial, giving, gentle but strong, very talented but humble. I loved him. I know he is in heaven; if I ever get there, he will be the first person I will search for.

I took up painting again forty years later and know I am a full time painter.

Cherries 12 x 14 (Age 7)
Oranges 12 x 16 (Age 9)