While the other young boys chased soccer balls in his hometown of Cartagena, Colombia, Jorge Arrieta Yances passed his days as a child perfecting another talent.
"At age 11 I spent all my time in the parks seeing all the artists - the older people showing their works in the fairs. And I participated with them. I'd get my little pencil and drawing books and be beside them and try and copy what they'd do," Yances said.
Every once in a while Yances said he'd sell something - never for much money, but enough to affirm the passion he felt for painting and drawing.
"I knew back then it was inside of me and always inside of me and as long as I can remember it is all I've wanted to do, and I haven't stopped," Yances, 54, said.
At age 13, Yances' parents moved their five children to Nashville. For the next four decades, beginning at Hillsboro High School and extending through galleries, museums and private collections across the U.S., Yances built a successful career with his oil, acrylic and watercolor paintings. The Brentwood resident has sold more than 100,000 of his original works, received a commission from Walt Disney World, swept award shows by capturing first place awards and headlined major art shows in Las Vegas and Washington D.C.
In spite of the broad stroke of professional luck, Yances said the most meaningful accomplishment to date was his recent and first-ever exhibition of his work in Cartagena at the Hilton, Colombia's most prominent art gallery, which symbolized a return to his roots as well as a turning point for a new style of art he is forging.
"As an artist, it all really started back home and I really haven't ever gone back and done a show or sold any of my paintings. And I am starting a new adventure with my art, and I wanted to go back and begin my new start in Cartagena like I did 40 years ago. That was very important to me."
Explain your new style
I've been trying to develop my own style and I have come up with new paintings. It's pretty much impressionist-surrealist. I give deep meaning to landscape scenery. I am trying to let people see more than just color and go beyond and see what's inside. You have to go inside the painting and create your own illusion or story. I don't want to compare it to poetry but that is pretty much what I am trying to create. I create the stories as I am painting - nothing is planned, they are very spiritual and done in the moment.
What was your first memory of creating art?
I was like seven, my aunt was an artist - she used mainly her hands to paint, her work was very primitive, impressionist, and she'd like to get all the little ones and show them how to use the paint, paper and pencils, and watercolors. I remember we'd use brushes made from her hair. Back then she had brownish white hair; she was a beautiful woman. She loved oils and acrylics so much that she dedicated herself to showing people how to use them, that was her passion.
What was the most memorable part of your trip to Colombia?
It was a dream come true to be so well received at the opening of the exhibition by my native people. It was very emotional for me, and very exciting.
Of all your commissioned paintings, which job are you most proud of?
The last mural I just did. It was in a house on Belle Meade Boulevard. It was a challenge that I accomplished. It was a 400- square-foot mural; the image was supposed to look like it was a fresco done 2,000 years ago, so to create that illusion was a challenge. It took three months to plan it out and two months to do it.