Jan 042010

Sandra Jusino paints plates. She also paints sea shells, canvases, masks and about anything else she can get her hands on. The lovely plate to the left is my latest treasure from her and I am tickled to death to have it in my possession.

In 2008, my wife and I went to Old San Juan in Puerto Rico. We browsed hundreds of little stores and dozens of wonderful restaurants. At one point we were in a bookstore that was decorated with the most colorful and sensual paintings. For once, I ignored the books and just stared at the paintings. I loved them. Almost all of them depicted a forest scene of some kind where the trees and the human shapes were one and the same. I felt like I was looking at dryads as would really be.

I asked my wife to ask the manager where he got the paintings. I had my notebook out ready to take down the name so I can look it up online. She asked him in Spanish and he pointed out the door. She turned to me and said the artist had a shop literally across the street.

I headed over there and it was like walking into a wonderland. Art was everywhere in this tiny shop. Masks lined the walls. Gorgeous paintings covered every inch. Little figurines were sprinkled about. Jewelry, musical instruments and anything else you could think of was painted with the same sense of wonderful colors.

The artists, Sandra, was there with her daughter. Sandra and my wife spoke in Spanish as Sandra showed off her work. I could barely understand the language but I recognized the passion that artists and writers have. She loves her pieces and when we made our selections, she took a picture of us with our new acquisitions so she would have a momento of where her piece was now.

We bought a coconut shell that depicts a forest of sensual power. It hangs in our bedroom and I love it. I always meant to write about her but it was difficult to put into words what effect her arts has on me. It is sexy, sure, but it is also very magical. I write about magic and science fiction all the time, but deep down I have a personal vision of magic and her art is the closest to that internal vision. It is beautiful, sexy, natural and a little scary.

This year I couldn’t wait to go back to her store. My wife and I walked in and Sandra got very excited. She had remembered us and was delighted to see us again. We toured the store and I was stunned to see how different everything was. She still drew trees and women but she had added medusas, flowers and mermaids. I am amazed by her output.

She could speak some English and I asked her why she painted Medusas.

“Because I always have these ideas squirming around in my head all the time and I can never paint them all. The Medusa is me.”

Well damn. That is the best description I have heard of what it is like to be creative. I feel that way all the time and I thought of it as a lack of focus but any more.

Sandra had branched into drawing mermaid eyes on seashells and my wife snatched one up. I wanted the plate because it is just beautiful. We both bought a lovely beach painting and Sandra showed us some pictures of her at the beach painting it while everyone else was in the water.

Which brings me to something Sandra said. She said her daughter was complaining that Sandra is always painting and never takes a day off or a vacation. Sandra felt it was silly to take a break from something she loves doing. She loves to paint and takes her brushes everywhere.

I smiled at that because this entire vacation, I had been making notes for my next book. That book hadn’t left my side the whole trip and I did wonder if maybe I should take a break. Heck no, it is what I love.

I expressed to her how much her work inspired me and she was genuinely shocked I think. She says so many tourists come in and barely give her work a second glance. I find that to be a crime but you know, it happens. What inspires me is that Sandra says she would keep painting if no one ever bought her work again. That is something I need to know. I need to know that real artists and writers never quit.

She has a website gallery but her Facebook has more pictures.

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