Born on January 17, 1972 to Colombian parents, I am the oldest of three children. At an early age, I exhibited a tremendous imagination, sometimes playing lone werewolf for hours at a time to my parents' dismay.

I had always wanted "to be" an artist.

Having excelled in the arts during high school, fine arts seemed to be an obvious choice for a college major. All I knew going in was that I could draw pretty well. I attempted to absorb everything I could. Taking every life drawing class offered, to the point where I was eventually, was allowed to teach them. But I knew nothing else. This love of the human figure became so enticing I added biology as major. Sadly, upon graduation I knew much more about the human body than art or painting or even stretching canvas.

It was not until 1996, when I took my first trip to Italy, that adventure changed my life. Walking the streets of Florence, Rome and Venice was a dream come true. In such a place, one can't avoid embracing the antiquity and art. Art is a very real part of the country's consciousness. Living life fully is their philosophy. Upon my return I was re-invigorated and had fallen in love with life and all its possibilities. During this time, I became closer to my great friend and mentor Ron English. He made me realize that our present day American society is desperate for Art and that being an Artist is a higher calling. With his encouragement, I had no choice.

Where would I focus my creative pursuits? The possibilities seemed endless and overwhelming. The Web was in its infancy, and seemed to be a perfect place to experiment with my vivid imagination. I became obsessed with the emerging technology. Photoshop, Flash and Maya, I wanted to know them intimately, and use them as tools to create. I spent countless hours in front of the computer. Though it provided a nice comfortable existence, with some creative freedom, I still felt empty.

Eventually cubicle living felt like a prison sentence. I wanted something real, authentic. Something physical. Enough with virtual space! I needed to create something with my mind and hands. I started painting again in my free time. Mostly whimsical, playful paintings.

In 2006, 10yrs after my first visit to Italy I returned. This time enrolled at the Angel Art Academy for a summer workshop. In hindsight, the best decision I have ever made for myself. Immersed in all things Italy: Art, passion, architecture, wine and the creative spirit that lives there, I brought home so much more than I expected.

The following summer, eager to have that undisturbed time to create, I discovered Marvin Mattleson's Portrait Painting workshop at SVU. I was hooked. Better yet, I was baptized into his 'Church of Academic Realism'. I've never met anyone who is as passionate about painting and about teaching painting than Marvin.

Now I paint everyday and couldn't be happier. I had to stop trying 'to be' an artist and just be.