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Studying Late

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posted by Bill Strain alias mrbill78636 on Tuesday 18th of October 2005 08:11:48 PM

Armando Cuellar grew up in Weslaco, Texas during The Great Depression and like so many others during that period, was no stranger to severe poverty. As I painted Studying Late, I remembered the Armando Cuellar, M. D. that I knew who was a medical doctor, serving the needs of a large segment of the population of his Mid-Valley hometown. Dr. Cuellar was also a devoted volunteer for the Boy Scouts of America in his community. Dr. Cuellar is what America is all about. The small one or two room dwelling is without insulation and serves the needs of a large family. It sits on the edge of town or in a rural setting. Cooking and washing are done outdoors. The children ride the school bus to school each day but most will grow up to be day laborers or farm workers. A few will spend some time in prison and a few more will die before they are forty years of age. Studying Late is done with those few in mind who grow up to overcome their environment and take over the reigns of leadership. Another little boy comes to mind. As manager of the Sherwin Williams Paint Store which had a large selection of artist’s supplies and one of the few people in Weslaco, Texas with a Bachelor’s Degree in Art, it was me who was selected to solve a certain community problem. I can’t even remember the young boy’s name now, but I remember the day a farmer brought him in to my store with his drawings. The boy was perhaps eleven years old, but his drawings, done with ballpoint pen on any kind of paper or cardboard he could find, were better than most artists or architects could do. I stood there looking into the face of a genius and had no idea what to do. He went home that day with a complete set of artist’s paints, brushes, pencils and paper and with a promise of all the art supplies he needed. I wondered how he would make the transition from black (sometimes blue) and white to color. I’ve known talented artists who were handicapped by an inability to work in color. A few weeks later I was rewarded with living proof that color would not be a problem for this young man. After meeting with the local architect, it was determined that the young man would come to work for him after school each day. The architect would give him jobs to do and would pay him exactly what he could earn driving a tractor on the farm. As he became comfortable with the architectural setting, he would be given some drawing and blueprint work to do. It was the perfect solution. About a week later the young man came with his father to the store to tell me that he would no longer work for the architect. He felt that since he had been born to the farm it was the will of God that he drive the tractor and work on the farm. He agreed to continue to draw and paint after work. When the left I went to the back of the store and cried. Some time later I heard that he moved to Austin, Texas and was painting portraits, working out of a Gallery called the Farmer’s Market. How appropriate, I thought. As I painted Studying Late I also thought of that young man so long ago.



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  • Published 08.20.22
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