Cecilia Stella Martin is a citizen of the world. She was born in La Plata, Huila, Colombia, and has lived in the United States since 1964. Presently she lives in Knoxville, with her husband, children and grandchildren. But she has traveled so extensively, that she considers herself a citizen of the world.
Stella's paintings are large and colorful landscapes, trees, flowers, and many magical places. She favors realism.
Stella's talent comes from her mother, who used to paint as a hobby. She recalls drawing was her favorite pastime. But she never knew she had a talent for painting. It was when she took a class with her grown daughter that she decided she was good at painting.
Stella has a studio at home. Painting is an internal process for her. "When I paint I like to be completely alone," Stella said. She finds inspiration in her memories and pictures of the many beautiful places she has visited.
Stella has taken some university courses and a few private lessons, and she was part of several group shows. She participated for two years HoLa's Latino Artists Exhibit at the Knoxville Museum of Art. Last year she had her first solo exhibit at Casa Hola. A Smoky Mountains painting of hers is in exhibit at Morristown's Cultural Center. "I have sold only one painting," she points out she often gives her art as a gift to relatives and friends who might compliment her paintings. "But now that my house's walls are covered and my children's homes are also full, I would consider selling some more."
Despite living abroad most her life, she speaks perfect Spanish with a harmonious Colombian accent. "My husband does not speak Spanish, but I have many Colombian friends!" She cooks many Colombian dishes that her family has learned to eat. Her husband now is the King of Coffee, she jokes. A tradition she keeps is the large family reunions every Sunday. Her children and grandchildren enjoy her sancocho, a soup made with chicken or beef, plantain, yucca, and potatoes, and tostones, fried plantain chips. They always take a week vacation together.
"One of the things I really enjoy doing is sitting down with my granddaughters to paint." Stella thinks specially the oldest, who is 9 years old, has a very good hand. She encourages her often to paint.
Her advice for those who have an interest in painting is "Just sit down and do it!" You will never know how good you are until you try, she said. As for herself, now that the traveling schedule has eased, she hopes to finish her Fine Arts education at the University of Tennessee. Her aspiration is "to learn more about technique. I want to make sure what I am doing is right".
"I would like to meet regularly with other Latino artists", she hopes together they can explore. "And to find other opportunities to exhibit."
Her paintings evoke many adventures, captured in time. Red tulips in Holland. Still waters in a Venetian channel. Colombian scene of balconies in Cartagena. And bucolic images of the Smoky Mountains.
Photo 95: Colombian painter Stella Martin sits at her studio, in front of Spring in the Smoky Mountains, oil on canvas painting, on March 2012. Photo by Rafael Casco.
Photo 96: Balcones en Cartagena, oil on canvas, 2011, by Stella Martin, inspired by a travel to Colombia. Photo by Rafael Casco.
Photo 97: Scene of Colombia's capital in Museo bogotano, oil on canvas, 2011, by Stella Martin. Photo by Rafael Casco.