Friday, May 6, 2011

Ten Minutes with Painter Juan Farias

He was born in Laredo, Texas in 1950 which resulted in his graduating high school at the heart of the Vietnam War. Juan Farias joined the Army right after graduating, heading off to Infantry Airborne and Pathfinder school whereupon he received his orders to Vietnam, serving with the 101st Screaming Eagles as a pathfinder.

Upon returning from Nam Farias was a drill sergeant. When he left the Army he went to work at a sign shop where he fell in love with the brush and after working for six years as a helper went on his own. Before computers took over, he made a living as a billboard artist. At that time he was doing pin stripping, scenic art, murals and commercial sign painting, all experiences that helped form the foundations for the fine arts career he went on to pursue.

I discovered Juan Farias through Olivia Villanueva's website and learned that the two have painted together for the past ten years. The examples I saw of his work seemed striking, and this interview is the result.

Ennyman: I'd be interested first in learning more about your background. Can you give a brief overview of your career?
Juan Farias: My career started as a sign painter and billboard artist until computers took over. At the age of 42 I took the leap of the cliff, as a full time, self taught artist. I have never looked back and never regret that step. As an artist I have to get up and somehow believe in my self every morning. There have been plenty of obstacles in my art career considering the culture that I come from, being Indian, Mexican and Spanish. Though it has worked for me in a spiritual level, I apply this level in my art and how I see the world.

For the first ten years of my art career I exhibited regularly and curated my share of exhibits. I eventually burned out from the same thing. Not being one to follow, I isolated myself. Little did I know I was still having problems with Vietnam. I got diagnosed with PTSD by the V.A. and was considered disabled. I feel it is that part of me that makes my art grab you by the throat or keep you awake at night. I am not an art teacher. I can motivate, inspire and point you in a direction that can wake you up, but dream at the same time.

E: Do you have a philosophy of art or any ruling principles?
JF: This is who I am. I cannot change it and have no plans to but to paint and die. Also, I would advise to document everything and keep track of all your art, especially when you deal with a gallery or client. Control your art. It is yours.

E: How did you first get interested in painting?
JF: The first time I got interested in art was when I saw a sign painter painting free style with a brush. It was in the late seventies. I wanted to be able to have such a skill. I fell in love with painting and the brush and I feel just as in love with art now as I did the first time. I knew I was in trouble, but I knew it was going to be an interesting life, a movie, a symphony, an opera.

E: When did you realize that you were unusually gifted in this way?
JF: In my dreams as a child until now. I have very surreal dreams and nightmares. I can fly by flapping my arms and hands. I dreamed I was Denzel Washington, strut and all, just like Training Day. This has been going on since I was a child, never quietly fitting in, but always dreaming.

E: If you had it all to do over again, what would you have done different?
JF: I would have finished school and gotten an MFA. Spend more time with my parents. I lost both of them last year.

E: Any advice for young and emerging artists?
JF: Document everything that you do as an artist, especially your art. When dealing with a gallery or client, document everything. Ask for receipts. Learn to do without, but believe in yourself. Always try to live and paint like it is the last day in your life. Practice acts of kindness every day, You might be having a conversation with one of God’s angels.

E: Thanks for allowing me to share some of your work on my blog.


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