How I got “hooked” on art – Part 2

Last week I told the story about the most precious gift I ever received from my father when I was just 10 years old– a paint set.

To continue my story, my parents immigrated to New York City in 1955, four years before the Cuban Revolution in which Fidel Castro assumed control of Cuba. In 1969, the United States finally began allowing immigration between the two countries. So my family, along with many of the other Cuban immigrants in this country, was finally able to start submitting the paperwork needed to bring our family members over to the US. This would be the first time that I would have real family members in this country, which made me nervous, and excited. 

In addition to flying to Miami to submit the “official” forms to claim our family members, my parents would also need to procure the other necessities they would need once they arrived in New York.  And since my relatives would arrive with only the clothes on their backs and the 2 suitcases that the Cuban government allowed, that would include renting apartments for them and finding them jobs, etc. Luckily, I had a very resourceful and charming mom who went about renting several apartments in and near our apartment building on Newkirk Avenue in Brooklyn, in addition to finding them jobs and setting them up for their new lives in this country. 

In the summer of 1969, armed with my new painting set, an ice cold can of Coke-Cola, and a small transistor radio, I turned a vacant apartment that was awaiting my new relatives into a temporary studio, where there was only a small table and few chairs. I would spend many long and happy hot days diligently following the kit’s instructions to complete the five small paintings of my father’s art kit gift. 


Visual artists should establish their very own special space for their art practice.

Since my rent was more often than not exorbitant in my hometown of Brooklyn, NY, I often didn’t have an extra room to make into my “art studio.” But I would always make sure to carve out a special space for my creative practice and a special time to practice my art. My special space was a corner in my living room, a home for my easel and art supplies, and since I was still working full-time, Sunday would be my special “art” day. I’d get up early, brew myself a cup of coffee, and head to that special corner of my living room, where I would spend the entire day painting and creating to my heart’s content.

I hope you have a special space for your creative practice. If you don’t, I recommend that you start imagining where it can be – that special space, that’s just yours for your creative practice. 

Stay tuned to my next blog in which I continue to connect the dots between my childhood art practice and how I began incorporating fabric onto my oil paintings. 

Be well,

Eileen 🙂


(20+) Eileen Marquez | Facebook


Below are some pics of me with my mom, dad, and brother Albert. The pic of me & my dad is my favorite.

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