BY TRACY RISUCCI
We’re thinking the single best thing about Instagram is access to the work of incredible, talented, emerging artists. Sometimes you come across an image that hits you like a ton of bricks. That’s how it was with Andres Valencia. While developing an Instagram series on the great George Condo, through a #georgecondo search we discovered two of Andres’ paintings. Let’s say we were instant fans! Besides the colors, the lines and the subjects, the work is incredibly original, innocent and joyful. If you think there is something familiar about it, perhaps it is the influence of Picasso or George Condo, or maybe it’s that Andres has a timeless, original, masterful style. Or maybe it’s because Andres is only 8 years old and in the 2nd grade and is drawn to primary colors and draws and paints without any rules. Sometimes you can’t explain why you love a piece of art, or the entire repertoire of an artist, it just moves you.
We are so touched by his sweetness and talent, we wrote to Andres’ mom asking if Basically Beautiful could develop a feature on his incredible repertoire. She and Andres’ graciously agreed. Please see the full q&a below and a gallery of some of our favorite works…
BB: Tell us about yourself. Where are you from? What grade are you in? Do you have any brothers and sisters? Any pets?
Andres: I am from San Diego, California. I am in the 2nd grade. I have one sister who is 12-years-old. She is my manager. I have a four-year-old poodle we rescued named Nieva. (BB: We love that you rescued a dog. Way to be. We would love to see a picture of Nieva. Do you have one you can share? Andres: See attached. BB: What do you like most about her personality? Andres: She is smart and playful. BB: Do you have a favorite animal charity? Andres: Open Arms Rescue)
BB: What is your favorite subject(s) in school?
Andres: Free time because I get to sketch whatever I want.
BB: Do you take art classes in school? If so, what’s that like?
Andres: I do VAPA Arts education at school. I learn alot about different artists and the type of art they all do.
BB: You’ve been painting for 2 years. Do you remember the moment you felt compelled to paint?
Andres: We have art in our house and I always tried painting like the art piece by our dinner table. Also when I met an artist named Retna. (BB: We are intrigued with the art in your dining room that has inspired you. Can you share a picture of the art? And one of your copies of it? Andres: Brimstone by Retna (attached is a picture of our dining area with the art- and the funny part is that we found a picture of Andres work on the table with his version of The Brimstone).
BB: What was the first painting you ever made? (can you share a picture?)
Andres: I don’t know I have so many.
BB: If you could have any painting in the world in your bedroom, what would it be?
Andres: Salvador Dali, The Melting Clock. (The Persistence of Memory)
BB: We see your work is inspired by the work of George Condo, Picasso, etc. What is it about this art that you like so much?
Andres: That the faces are unique and not regular faces.
BB: If you could meet any living artist today, who would it be?
Andres: George Condo
BB: Tell us about your creative process… (for example, how does an idea come to you? once you have an idea how do you start?)
Andres: Sometimes I have dreams of art and sometimes other artists inspire me. I draw a sketch and just keep adding and then it becomes something.
BB: How do you choose your colors?
Andres: Sometimes I use a color wheel. I also look at colors and see if they go together.
BB: How long does a typical work of your art take to complete? Do you sign your work?
Andres: Four to five days or sometimes one day. Yes I sign my art.
BB: How many works of art have you completed?
Andres: Millions. (mom- over 50 paintings on canvas but many on regular paper when he was starting)
BB: What part of the creative process is the most exciting for you?
Andres: When I sketch my idea.
BB: What would you like to be when you grow up?
Andres: An artist and a musician. I also play the piano. I like Paul McCartney, Jimmie Rodgers, Jimi Hendrix and James Brown.
BB: Do you have any good art jokes?
BB: Favorite ice cream flavor?
BB: If you could have one super power…?
Andres: To be able to disappear and go wherever I want.
BB: Favorite movie?
Andres: “Harriet” the Harriet Tubman movie.
BB: Other than painting, how do you like to spend your free time?
BB: When is your birthday?
Andres: October 1st.
BB: Do you have a favorite cartoon?
BB: If you could send a message to the world?
Andres: Be nice and read books.
BB: Is there anything else you would like us to know?
Andres: Yes, I make a big mess with my paint.
BB: Can we stay in touch?
BB: We know you’re busy home schooling now. How is that going? Is art part of the curriculum?!
Mom: Yes, it has been very busy home schooling and yes art is part of the curriculum. When the state was getting ready to implement stay-at-home rules due to the COVID-19 my husband rushed to an art store and purchased art supplies and for the first time we purchased big canvases. We told Andres that art and sculpting would be part of his curriculum. He did not seem to mind at all since he spends all day just doing that. The challenge is getting him to complete his school assignments.
BB: Tell us about the first time Andres expressed an interest in art and the first time you recognized his considerable talent?
Mom: My husband loves art, so we have art around the house. Andres would try to draw some of the paintings that were around the house. I would sit by him when he was painting and in one minute he would sketch or paint something unique. He never painted your normal face with two eyes a nose and mouth. I would ask him, “why did you do that” and he would say “I don’t know. It just came to me.” I immediately realized that his art was different. I never asked “why” again. I couldn’t wait to sit by him to see what was next. There were so many times that he just blew my mind. I would run to my husband trying to be discreet and show him Andres’ work. We would look at each other in disbelief. We support him and nurture what he loves and that is art.
BB: Did you have to create a studio in your house to accommodate Andres’ work?
Mom: No, we have not yet. His studio is his room, my room, or the living room. We talk about it and we are trying to come up with a plan for a studio.
BB: If left to his own devices, how many hours a day will Andres paint?
Mom: If I allowed Andres to sculpt and paint all day he truly would. Although, I never keep him away from creating.
A few months ago about five kids his age came to our door to invite him to play outside and he said “no” to them. I encouraged him to go outside and play and he insisted he did not want to go outside with them. When the kids left he looked at me and said, “I don’t want to waste my time playing outside. I want to paint and sculpt.” I wasn’t sure how to feel about this because he is a little boy and he should be playing outside. Don’t get me wrong he does play outside and he does have friends and cousins he plays with. I just think that he should be outside playing more than he does.
BB: What makes Andres giggle?
Mom: I love when he giggles. My kisses make him giggle.
BB: Do you have a favorite memory of Andres that you would like to share?
Mom: He is truly a special little boy. A few weeks ago he was coming down for breakfast and he asked if he could have a blank piece of paper. I said yes, and asked him why? He said, “I had a dream of art that has never been done.” He started to sketch a picture and it was AMAZING!!!!!!!!
BB: If you could have one superpower…?
Mom: To cure all illnesses in children.
Basically Beautiful checked in with Andres just before his 9th birthday (September 2020). Here’s what he had to say:
BB: How has your year been?
Andres: It has been nice. Staying home from school and making more art has been exciting.
BB: Please tell us about the sculptures you’ve been making.
Andres: I do all the people that I like. Like Picasso, Van Gogh, Stevie Wonder, Little Richard, James Brown, BB King, and me.
BB: How’s Nieva? Does she hang out while you make your art?
Andres: Yes, Nieva is always around me.
BB: What’s happening with your school this semester? Are you taking classes at home or do you go into the classroom?
Andres: I do home schooling. I enjoy staying home because its easier, I spend more time with Nieva, and I paint in between my breaks.
BB: Do you have an all time favorite work of art you created?
Andres: Yes, The Farmer.
BB: We know your mom and dad support you in every way. What do you think about that?
Andres: I think its cool because they let me paint wherever I want. I’m happy because they buy me my paints and everything to paint.
BB: Is there anything in particular you’d like to tell us?
Andres: One day I want to have my own doll company. (Mom- Andres talks about sculpting some of the characters he paints and favorite musicians and making dolls out of them.)
Thank you Andres and Mom for taking the time to answer our questions (again!). It is an honor to have this incredible work and some more background on you in our gallery.