About Jose Trujillo
I was born in Guadalajara, Mexico in 1982, and moved to the United States of America with my family when I was nine-years-old. I currently live in Tucson, Arizona with my wife and son.
I am a self-taught artist, who became interested in light, color, and motion at a very young age. As a young artist, I began visiting museums and studying the paintings of the old masters, finding that I was drawn to the Impressionist’s “blurry” view of the world. Observing the color and style of these paintings transformed how I looked at my world. Once I saw the depth of color in the Impressionist’s view of the sky, I was hooked. After viewing the Impressionist artwork, I was unable to view the majestic skies of Arizona without spending hours contemplating their beauty.
I paint because I love nature and life. I love everything that surrounds us. A perfect day for me involves nothing more than looking at a subject until its true essence reveals itself to me as the colors become vibrant and I truly “see” the subject. I believe a painting should represent the subject and its relationship to the world— it should be a celebration of its existence in the universe in the best possible light. I hope I am able to convey this in my work, and strive to do so with every painting I create.
About My Artwork:
To me, painting is more than a creative way to express myself. Through painting, I learn to see without the interruption of thought. I practice seeing – whether that is the landscape around me, the colors in the sky, or the leaves dancing in the breeze – I practice being fully present in sight when I’m painting. I developed a love of painting at an early age, but it wasn’t until recent years that it began to take on a whole new meaning for me.
I grew up believing that painting was a way to creatively express my own interpretation of the world around me. But over the years, I came to realize that painting was not what I thought it was. It was not simply an expression of the world I experienced but rather a deeper practice in presence and sight. I realized the more I painted, the clearer I could see, and the deeper my understanding of the world grew.
A thought expressed by Monet became clear to me: “I would like to paint as a bird sings.” I had always thought that Monet meant he would like to paint as beautifully as a bird sings but I came to realize that is not his intention. He meant it metaphorically, as though painting and singing were synonymous, and the joy and presence with which a bird sings is the same state of mind with which one should approach painting. That thought has stayed with me for years.
One day I found myself in front of a majestic Arizona Monsoon sky with no easel on hand. Unable to capture the scene in a painting, I could do nothing but stare intensely for a very long time, simply absorbing the sky.
I could not paint, draw, take a photo, or otherwise capture the sky. All I could do was see. At that point, it hit me: the practice of painting teaches me to truly see. Painting allows me to see with a quiet mental space, a mind uncluttered with ideas, judgments, theories, and noise. All of these things are necessary for beginners, but technical proficiency and artistry are not the same thing. In order to truly see, I needed to put them aside. It was at that point that I understood Monet’ statement. He didn’t mean he wished to paint as beautiful as a bird sings but as naturally. He wished to be like the bird who does not think about singing, or plan to sing, but simply sings. This is how I came to understand the importance of being present in my painting.
Later on, another phrase by Pablo Picasso also became clear to me: "If only we could pull out our brain and use only our eyes." As I realized when viewing the Arizona Monsoon sky, shutting off my mind and relying solely on my eyes is crucial to my painting process. When I paint, I am not thinking of anything. I do not plan my brushstrokes or what I want the final painting to look like. I do not consciously blend colors or adjust shades. I forget everything I consciously know about art theory and technique. When I do this, the painting seems to just happen. This is the experience I strive for every time I begin a new canvas.
Every time I begin to paint, I start by silencing my mind. By doing this, I can truly use my eyes to see, and, in turn, can truly paint. It is my intention that the collector will be able to view my paintings and feel your own peace.
My creative process:
I love my artistic process, since it keeps me fresh all the time. Before I start a drawing or painting, I look at the subject and let it soak in. I try to experience my subjects with my sight before I ever put brush to canvas. I don't begin painting right away, since I need time to experience the subject before I really know it. I look first at the subject and try to experience it as if I had never seen it before, as though it is completely new to me. This is not always easy but when it works, it’s pure magic! This exercise helps to keep every subject fresh and new and creates space for me to begin my work.
I love working on many pieces at once because the variety keeps me present in the painting process and I don’t feel the anxiety that often occurs when I’m pressured to finish a single painting. I recognized this tendency early in my career and developed a solution that allowed me to be productive and at peace with myself at the same time. Additionally, working on multiple pieces allows me to capture the same subject in different atmospheric conditions; something that I truly love about working in the Impressionist style.
I have long been an appreciator of Impressionist painters Monet and Van Gogh, and Expressionist James Ensor. As a young artist I wanted to paint like them but as I grew older, I tried to consciously dis-identify with these artists in my own artwork. I have learned that influences are valuable but can serve as artistic phantoms if not viewed in the right way. When I was younger, I noticed how much I forced myself to try to paint like these famous painters, believing that emulating them would make my work “good.” I rebelled against this method by trying to be completely original, without consciously emulating anyone else’s style, but I soon noticed this technique felt forced, as though I was forcing myself not to acknowledge my influences in my own work. Since then, I’ve learned to let these two opposing impulses go and allow myself to be free to create color and movement in artwork that I enjoy.
My process requires that I pay constant attention to my state of mind. Being present in my painting is difficult; it’s akin to meditation. If I detect mental discomfort, I know that I’m either trying to fix something I did “wrong” or I’m getting ahead of myself and planning the next steps in my painting. It is the mental space between these two feelings where I truly paint. This is the space I try to achieve every time I paint.
When painting in my studio, I alternate between three types of music: very old mariachi recordings, Tchaikovsky, or flamenco. Any of these types of music inspires me and allows me to work for long periods of time. I believe I’ve come to choose these types of music because I view Impressionist painting as a way of weaving my way through a canvas using my brush as a needle and the pace of the music keeps my tempo moving. At times I feel as though I am knitting color onto my canvas and the high-notes in the antique harp of the mariachi music, the fast-paced piano of the Tchaikovsky, and the rapid finger-picking of the Spanish guitar keep my brush moving along. I love when I am able to paint in tempo to the music. When I’m truly present in my painting, the musical notes feel as if they too are painting an Impressionist scene.