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Evelyn Viegas’ Painting Style Is Unlike Any Other

Photos by Ramón Hernández

To say Evelyn Viegas makes do with what she has is an understatement, especially in her paintings, with she produces with her makeup and other sources.

To understand the why, Viejas took us back to her childhood when she never had a doll; or simple things that children in the United States take for granted, like crayons.

“I didn’t even know what a doll looked like,” the January 28 birthday girl said during an interview at the Hispanic Entertainment Archives.

“So I would sketch cartoon-like images of dolls based on how I thought they looked like. However, this was not in the traditional way since my first paint brush was a stick and my canvas was the earth beneath my bare feet.

In fact the Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato, Mexico native says she didn’t see a pencil until she entered kindergarten school.

“I wanted a doll so bad, but my first toy was a tiny red piano. So I would draw dolls all over the school walls, my teachers would tell my mother (Juanita), she would scold me and I stopped. But when I got the urge, I would start drawing on anything I could find,” Viegas continued.

By the time she reached the 9th grade, all her teachers and classmates were aware of her innate talent and she was called on to do a drawing for the cover of a locally published book and Viegas chose to do a black and white drawing of a dove.

After she graduated from high school, she went to work for the water board. She saved every penny she could. Then she took her saving and pooled it with those of her mother and Viegas, then twenty, opened a small school supplies store.

“Because the town was so small and we were so isolated, I still didn’t even know of the existence of canvas, oil and acrylic paints. And I wanted to paint in color, so I began painting on paper with lipstick, eye-liner, mascara, rouge and eye shadows.”

Thus Viegas learned to improvise to fulfill her yearn to paint in vivid colors and her subjects now included pastoral scenes and when asked what she used for green, she said, “I used green eye-shadow for grass and leaves.”

In 1988, the young attractive artist sold her school supply store and moved to San Antonio. After two years of doing odd jobs, she had since stopped painting and had enrolled in a local beauty school.

“I didn’t paint anything else after I left Mexico. I put that part of my life behind and I told myself that I would resume after I matured, but after my daughter, Ruth, was born in 1997, she inspired me because she made me remember my infancy.

“I was now a hair stylist and this is when I began to experiment with creating new works of art using different shades of hair color. And I started by replicating known painting, but using hair colors. The most colorful ones were done with make-up.”

Next the 40+ year-old artist added rose oil and all types of chocolate, including white chocolate, to her color palette.

“Don’t forget I’m an Aquarian,” Viegas said. “So I utilize the elements of earth, wind, fire and water – I mix dirt, mud, clay and/or Holy water. For the fire element, I use a match to melt the different materials in order to blend them together. And air to dry the combination of ingredients.”

This is what makes this innovative artist so unique. In addition to her special concoctions, she has also created a special paint that looks glittery in a dark lit room and within the paintings; there are almost-hidden images that give each work a certain mystic.

It is said that the apple does not fall far from the tree and now her daughter Ruth has make it clear that she wants to be an artist. In this regard, her mother says, “I don’t want her to be a painter because the major of them are struggling artist. That’s why I have a trade to fall back on.”

While she would love to exhibit and sell her works of art, the full-time Dora Lopez Beauty Shop hairstylist says she can’t afford the cost of leasing a venue where she can display her art.

“It’s not really the money I seek; it’s the satisfaction of inspiring other to be creative. To teach people that they can make do with anything by improvising.”

Her latest unique paintings are those of La Virgen de Guadalupe and she hopes they can be displayed at the San Fernando Cathedral during their December 12 celebration. One, which looks like a charcoal drawing but it, was actually done with chocolate.

For the record, Viegas’ artistic talent extends to being the former television co-host of “Aficionados del Barrio” and now being a master artiste when it comes to hair.

For more information, readers may contact Viegas through her agent at (210) 693-1597.