"I am proud to say I am the first woman in my village to paint with oils. At first I had to face severe criticism from other women because they regarded painting as exclusive to men."
"Most of the women in my village do fine embroideries, but I wanted to do something different... don't ask me why! In 1991 my boyfriend, who's now my husband, introduced me to oil paintings. He is Antonio Coché (a Novica featured artist) and he taught me how to mix colors, which is an essential part of the art of painting. That's how I got on the path of becoming an artist.
"I began painting still life compositions and I still remember my first painting, 'Chapin Still Life of Fruits and Flowers.' I kept it for a long time but then I had to sell it due to economic hardships.
"I am proud to say I am the first woman in my village to paint with oils. At first I had to face severe criticism from other women because they regarded painting as exclusive to men. However I never gave up despite their harsh comments and I fought to get ahead. Today I am very proud of persevering in my art, especially when several of my paintings have crossed international borders.
"My favorite style, and the one I'm renowned for, is called 'bird's eye view.' It all began in 1992, when I was walking to the fair in a village nearby with my husband, and we stopped for a break. From that point we had a view of the landscape and villages below – it was so beautiful! It inspired me to paint like that, like seen from above, so I made my husband go up rooftops and take photos of markets, children, etc.
"Nowadays this style is renowned throughout Guatemala and many people work it, but my compositions are different because there is more work involved, including four layers of paint and many more details. I can take up to 20 days to finish a painting.
"In 2002, my husband and I were finally able to set up our own studio-gallery. My dream as an artist is to find a place where I can sell my compositions and exhibit my work in other countries. I would love to travel – it would be amazing if my paintings took me to visit other countries.
"I love to spend time with my children and husband when I'm not painting. I really like the family life we have created for ourselves. I also love to sing and I enjoy singing to them… it's my other passion.
"My work has been nationally recognized, including the Earth Day painting competition sponsored by Fundación Solar in 2002. I got second place and my brother in law, Julian Coché (a Novica featured artist) won first! I also participated in the poster competition Rigoberta Menchú and the Maya Fer National Cultural Fair. I have also been interviewed for press and television. I've exhibited extensively in Guatemala and once someone took my paintings for an exhibition in the United States, but I wouldn't be able to tell you where it was.
"What I love most about what I do is that when I paint, I think back to the lives of our predecessors and the work they did on the fields, which is deeply rooted in my country's culture. Working the fields reminds me of my father for he dedicated his life to agriculture. My inspiration comes from my people and the Maya culture, which is latent in each one of us."