“I come from a family that, in one way or another, has always practiced art,” explains artist Witha Lacuesta, whose first name is pronounced “Vita”.
“My grandfather was a coach designer and coach builder. Others of my ancestors were merchants, and on their travels they also bought paintings for their collection. My grandmother was a fashion designer in Paris when she was young . His brother was a sculptor and his father painted from an early age,” says Lacuesta, who still has his paintings.
“My mother, my father and my sister were all artists. So I always painted. As a child, we regularly went to museums all over Europe. We visited historical sites; architecture introduced me to specific art, proportions and directions.
Born in Germany, Lacuesta first came to the United States in 1967, landing in California.
“I loved California. That’s when I started living. I painted like crazy when I didn’t have to work.
After returning to Germany to be closer to her aging parents, she returned to the United States to live in Boston, where marriage, a job in cartography and children occupied her time. Twenty-four years later, they moved to Florida.
“I’m extremely happy here, but I miss the culture of other places. In Germany, Paris was only four hours away. I like to travel.”
Lacuesta has been painting professionally for about 15 years, although she sold some works 30 years ago, explaining: “If someone saw and liked a painting, they could buy it, but I was not focused on it as a profession at the time. ”
Working primarily in watercolour, she also dabbled in oil, acrylic and caustic, as well as collage and linotype, and painted both realistic and abstract, depending on the piece. . Some are combinations of mediums, such as watercolor and gold leaf.
A prolific painter, much of his work is serial, such as landscapes, historic buildings, birds, animals, flowers, and street scenes. Another series is based on music and dance, whether modern or classical.
“Sometimes it’s the instrument in a piece of music that inspires me to create a certain piece,” says Lacuesta. “Sound affects me in how I want to paint something. I am very influenced by music. A painting based on Bolero music, which had great sweeping movements, very slow and very exciting, but also very repetitive, was at the Festival of the Masters at Disney (a nationally recognized art festival with 300 award-winning artists ).
Disney chose to purchase the painting for its collection.
“People often tell me they’re not really into the summaries,” says Lacuesta. “But then they look at it and they are affected by it. People say they feel a sense of happiness and upliftment when they see the musical series.
Another painting was inspired by a Mexican folk dance.
“There’s a certain elegance to it, and when you see it dancing, the ladies are in high heels, the man has a hat, with a fan that they’re using, and it’s a very controlled, very ceremonial step.”
This painting was in a show, and the woman who bought it said she owned eight dance studios.
Lacuesta often does not reveal the titles of his paintings, wanting people to form their own ideas without a title influencing their perception. In this case, the woman had reacted to the dance moves, even if they were abstract. It spoke to him.
Many of his dog paintings depict specific animals, their personalities shining on paper long after they have passed through dog heaven. Lacuesta is also well known for its bird paintings, many of which have won awards.
“Florida’s bird population is a story in itself. I observe animals in nature. I once observed a turtle laying eggs and burying them. I also saw two Caracara birds watching from “upstairs”. I walked around and spotted the two birds; they had dug up the eggs. It was the young bird that the adult taught to find food. This is the story behind my paintings; observation, observation, observation,” says Lacuesta.
She explains that she takes photos as a reference but interprets rather than copies the background, adding: “The color composition, the balance, the cold/warm temperature, I always pay attention to that.
Additionally, she carefully notes the inherent position of each animal performing its specific task.
“Young birds are very interesting because they are often clumsy. To observe the story of what is hidden behind the bird at the time of the observation,” she explains.
“In the Blue Heron painting, it shows the building of the nest. It is he who chooses the materials for the nest and brings it to him. Either she graciously accepts it, or she throws it overboard.
Fast-disappearing scenes of old Florida are immortalized in his paintings, including a painting of an old gas station (since demolished) that was recognized by the children of the former owners.
Lacuesta masters watercolour; whether detailed or loose, everything falls into place and she strikes a balance. While many watercolorists tend towards smaller paints because the paint dries quickly and is less forgiving than acrylics or oils, Lacuesta says she doesn’t find that a problem.
“It’s all in how you handle it. I can paint watercolors of any size,” she says, noting that because the paper comes in rolls of 6 feet by 20 feet long, she is not limited, although it can be difficult to find a surface large enough to lay it flat.
Another issue with large watercolors, she says, is deciding how to display them. Watercolors are usually framed under glass and the weight can become prohibitive.
“The only way to preserve something bigger is to coat it and keep it that way. It’s now permissible in art shows to do that. The traditional way was that you couldn’t put a coating We have new products to seal it, because the paper is always sensitive to humidity,” says Lacuesta.
Also, how paper reacts varies by manufacture and, she adds, paint behaves differently depending on whether it’s painting outdoors or in an air-conditioned space.
“I had a really hard time painting at 2,000 feet in the mountains, until someone told me I had to use a different paper. The paper I was using took everything right away, and the other paper had a different level of reaction to paint. That’s what you have to learn if you really want to do watercolour,” she explains.
“The love of watercolor is in the flow of the pigment, what it can do, how different watercolor makers modify the pigment, and how it flows on different papers. You have to learn and use what the different properties are” , explains Lacuesta, who learned through experimentation as well as in classes and workshops.
“It just takes a lot of energy and patience with yourself.” Preferring to look at the positive side of life, she says, “I can’t stop bad things from happening, but I can try to exude pleasantness and happiness, and try to help others. This is what is really important.
Lacuesta exhibits at the Vero Beach Art Club Gallery Annex and Melbourne’s Fifth Avenue Art Gallery at Eau Gallie. She also worked in sculpture, jewelry, scenic painting, linotype and monotype, and wrote and illustrated a children’s story.
“I like challenges.”
Pictures of Joshua Kodis