Archive for the ‘Roz Abellera’ Category


When I was younger, I made the mistake of constantly moving around thinking that’s how I would find myself and my happiness, when really,  I was in me all along. Happiness starts with YOU no matter where you go.

The grass isn’t always greener on the other side, it’s greener where you water it.

-Roz Abellera

3 choices

So I’ve decided to pick the third option.


About 3 years ago, I started to get pains in my right elbow. It became increasingly worse and was usually accompanied with stiffness to the point where I couldn’t fully straighten out my right arm. Then the pain and stiffness showed up in my toes. I was still stubborn and didn’t go to the doctor, because you know, unfortunately, that’s how some of us men are. We ignore symptoms until it becomes worse or too late.  I ignored it until it showed up in my hands.  I got scared when I could no longer shut a couple of my fingers closed all the way. As an artist, my hands are my tools so I couldn’t ignore the problem any longer.

I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. I was shocked. At the time, I thought arthritis only happened to the elderly. “It couldn’t happen to me,” -I was wrong.  Some researchers believe that arthritis is caused by when something goes wrong with a person’s immune system, an autoimmune disorder, meaning that the body attacks itself. In this case, the joints.

A healthy immune system protects the body. It generates internal inflammation to get rid of infection and prevent disease. But the immune system can go wrong, mistakenly attacking the joints with uncontrolled inflammation, sometimes causing joint erosion and may damage other parts of the body. Rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis are examples of inflammatory arthritis. Researchers believe that a combination of genetics and environmental factors can trigger autoimmunity. Smoking is an example of an environmental risk factor that can trigger rheumatoid arthritis in people with certain genes.

With autoimmune and inflammatory types of arthritis, remission is the goal and may be achieved through the use of one or more medications. The goal of treatment is to reduce pain, improve function, and prevent further joint damage.

I tried prescribed medications for a while but didn’t like the way they made me feel, they made me nauseous for some reason. I also don’t like the idea of becoming dependent upon prescribed medications so I sought out another route. That’s when I found my naturopathic doctor, a doctor who practices natural medicine, which is what I prefer.

My doctor explained to me that some people have a sensitivity to gluten. Gluten is a composite of storage proteins which is stored together with starch and found in various grass related grains. It is found in wheat, barley, rye, oat, related and products of these (such as malt). Gluten is appreciated for its viscoelastic properties. It gives elasticity to dough, helping it rise and keep its shape and often gives the final product a chewy texture. So I decided together with my doctor to try a gluten-free diet.

A gluten-free diet meant I would have to alter the way I eat. But I was okay with this. I’d do whatever it would take just to feel normal again. A gluten-free diet meant I would have to say goodbye to wheat, which is in bread and pasta, as I know it. Wheat in all forms including spelt, kamut, triticale (a combination of wheat and rye), durum, einkorn, farina, semolina, cake flour, matzo (or matzah) and couscous. Wheat is found in many bread, cakes, cereals, cookies, crackers, pretzels, pasta and pizza crusts, but it can turn up in other products, too. This meant I would have to read the labels on the foods I buy because even seemingly “safe” foods like licorice candy even contains wheat. This also meant I would have to give up or lower my sugar intake because sugar can also cause inflammation.

Had this occurred to me ten years ago, it would have been harder to go gluten free because back then there really wasn’t a market for it. So this meant you had to make almost everything from scratch at home. Now, you can walk into almost any major grocery store and they have their own gluten free section where you’ll find bread, pasta, cookies, crackers, even pizza, -all gluten free. They make them with either tapioca flour or rice flour instead of wheat flour.

So has the gluten free diet helped me? Yes, immensely. I can now bend my arms all the way and close my affected fingers about 95% of the way. I still have a way to go with this lifestyle (because I slip up once in a great while), but I’m getting better.

I loathe the day that arthritis takes my whole hand and I’m unable to paint or draw because of it. At that point, I would probably tape a paintbrush to my hand and have a go at it (talk about suffering for your art). But I’m trying to prevent from going to that point, this is why I eat this way. I’m not trying to make a point, or trying to be cool or on some fad diet. This is a lifestyle and I do it for a reason.

Another thing I’d like to bring up is that there are reports that a gluten-free diet can be dangerous to some people if your body isn’t compatible with it. So please, consult with your physician first before going on it. I only wrote this because my doctor suggested it and it worked for me.

So if you see me at a party or a get together of some sort and I’m not eating Aunt Mabel’s cake, it isn’t because I’m being picky or mean. I’m only trying to prevent a flare up.


As a visual artist the question comes up sometimes, “What is your favorite medium?” or “What is your favorite paint to use?” Gouache, watercolor, ink, acrylic, oils, etc. -I’ve tried them all. My favorite paint to use by far in terms of color and feel would have to be oils.

Oil paints have a deep, rich, vibrant quality about them that is unmatched. I love working with them because you can blend colors together much easier than with other paints. I love to come in with another color and drop it in onto another patch of color right on the canvas as I’m painting and start blending. This is great for when you’re doing flesh tones. Oil paint is excellent for when you are doing portraits. This ability to blend is one of the main reasons why I love oils but comes with a drawback: drying time.

The reason you can blend so well with oil is that it takes long for the paint to dry. Oil paintings can take weeks or even months to 100% completely dry.  Another benefit to this is that it allows an artist to go back to the painting and rework certain parts of it before it dries. But what if you need the painting to be done fast? You’re pretty much in trouble because you have to take into account the drying time. This won’t work if you have a client that needs a painting yesterday. So what do you do?

What I have done in the past is I chose to do the painting in acrylic instead because it dries faster. Acrylic paint dries as you are working with it within minutes. But  I consider acrylic “second best” to oil.  A finished acrylic painting can look very much like an oil painting and there are tons of acrylic masterpieces out there. So I am in no way, shape or form knocking this paint. Acrylic paint even feels similar but not exactly like oil when you are working with it while it’s wet.

The problems I have with some acrylics is that they just don’t have the same richness in color to them by comparison to oils.  Also, although I stated that the fast drying time of acrylics can be a benefit it can also be a negative. I find it harder to blend colors together with acrylics because they dry so fast. You also don’t have the luxury of coming back to the painting a week later and blending in some wet paint to what you already did. I still blend colors on top of each other with acrylics but I have to work really fast before the paint dries.

So what’s the perfect paint? It doesn’t exist.

I find myself switching back and forth between oils and acrylics, depending on what the situation calls for, whether the work has to be done fast or not. But the perfect paint would be a paint that combines all the great qualities of oils with all the great qualities of acrylics with none of the drawbacks.

Can someone please invent this?




I remember back when I was in my 20’s I thought being in your 40’s meant you were old. I used to think that the age of 40 was the point where the downward slope started and it was all downhill from there. Silly.

Now that I’m in my 40’s I find that life is just beginning. At this point, there are still a lot of things I haven’t done. A lot of goals I haven’t reached. For example, one goal I have is to become a father with my wife. This was something I didn’t want in my younger years. But people change and I’m at a point where I’m ready for it and I know I can be responsible whereas I couldn’t be before.

That’s the thing- people change. So maybe in your younger years you weren’t ready for something in life and might have made bad decisions. I know for myself, I’m not exactly the same person I was even 6 months ago. We go through changes and situations that “rewire” us and so maybe now we’re ready to handle something in life that we couldn’t before.

But I also understand that maybe at some point it’s too late for certain things. For example, I admittedly regret the fact that my future children will never meet my father, their grandfather, because he’s passed away. But there is nothing I can do about that, I have to accept it.  For years I’ve hurt over my relationship with my father and his passing. But something happened to me recently that made me realize I have to accept things that I cannot change and I have to learn to let it go. Some things just weren’t meant to be.  I’m tired of hurting. I don’t want this anymore.

So I’ve reached a point in my life where I am getting rid of past regrets, past painful situations, past painful relationships, past mistakes, things that do me absolutely no good by hanging on to it. It’s time to let go of things that are draining mentally/emotionally. This has to be done in order to move forward in life.

So if you’re in a point in life where you’re feeling old, tired and drained-you don’t have to feel like that anymore. Let go of your past mistakes, maybe things didn’t go as planned with something in your life and it left you feeling defeated. Press the restart button on your life. You don’t have to hurt anymore. Work on letting things go.

Age is not a death sentence. You still have a lot to give and life still has a lot to give you. Never give up on yourself.




The game of life is a game of boomerangs. Our thoughts, deeds and words return to us sooner or later with astounding accuracy.

-Florence Scovel Shinn


Vincent van Gogh’s work entitled ‘Irises’ is one of my favorite paintings. It has a lot to do with the fact that my favorite color is blue which this painting has a lot of. I also love the angles and shapes that he used.

Vincent painted this masterpiece while he was staying at the Saint Paul-de-Mausole asylum for the mentally ill in Saint Remy de Provence, France, in the last year before his death in 1890.

Vincent started painting Irises within a week of entering the asylum, in May 1889, seeing the Irises in the garden at the hospital. He produced an incredible body of work during this last year of his life including this one. By all accounts, painting and art is what he occupied most of his time with during his stay. It was his daily obsession.

He called painting “the lightning conductor for my illness” because he felt that he could keep himself from going insane by continuing to paint.

When I see ‘Irises,’ I see a man who masked his suffering by creating something beautiful. And in that beauty he felt a small glimmer of hope. And that glimmer of hope was enough to keep him going.

-Roz Abellera


Hey, Julia Bigelow. Do you remember this?


These are my top 5 favorite artists who have influenced me to want to do art:

1) Pablo Picasso,  Born: October 25, 1881, Malaga, Spain, was one of the most influential artists/painters of the 20th century. To use an analogy, to me, he was like the Bruce Lee of visual arts in that he borrowed, mastered and mixed different styles to create his own-much like Bruce Lee did with Martial Arts. 

Picasso was important to me because at the time that I discovered him, I was hung up on what style of art I should do. Picasso showed me that as an artist, I don’t have to be pigeonholed within one style, I can explore and try anything I wanted. His career shows this philosophy in the way that he started out classically trained doing realistic paintings to doing strange abstracts and creating Cubism later in life. He was the prolific master.

More about Pablo Picasso:

2) Salvador Dali, Born: May 11, 1904, Figueres, Spain, was the most influential Surrealist Painter in art history. His signature style was to take realistic art and mix it in with dreamlike scenery. His famous painting, Persistence Of Memory  is a great example:


Persistence Of Memory depicts melting clocks against a barren landscape. This is just one example of the dreamlike worlds he created in his head.

Today, one can make scenes like this with a computer, but you have to remember, Dali did it with nothing more than his head, hands and heart. He was important to me because he showed that if you want to be technical, you don’t have to stick with plain and boring realism-you can create different, fantastic worlds with it.

More about Salvador Dali:

3) Vincent van Gogh, Born: March 30, 1853 Zundert, Netherlands, unfortunately is probably only famous to casuals for being the artist who cut off his ear and gave it to a woman at a brothel he frequented. Although to the history of art, he was much more than that. But he was a tortured artist who suffered from depression and mental illness and spent many of his last days in a mental hospital painting feverishly. Art was his obsession.

His paintings are known for its bold colors, bold lines and heavy brush strokes. Starry Night was arguably his most famous work:


To use an analogy, if we were talking about Rock music, Van Gogh was like the band Nirvana of his time. If you’re old enough to remember, when Nirvana came along, technical guitar solos with opera like vocals was the order of the day for Rock. Rock had become this technical type of music which required some great technical skill to play. Then Nirvana came along with a crude, raw sound that was based on “feeling” rather than being technical and they changed the face of music.

Van Gogh was the same as Nirvana in that during his time, realistic looking artwork was the call of the day and then he came along with his “crude” raw looking style based on feeling and emotion and made an impact. But unfortunately for him, he wasn’t popular and was often panned and ridiculed by critics . So much so, that he made little to no money as an artist while he was alive.  They saw his work as crude and talent less. I guess there is some justice in that his paintings today sell for millions of dollars.

The duality of van Gogh was that he was a tortured man who felt ugliness and pain in his inner world but brought grace and beauty  into the outer world through his art.  Unfortunately, he committed suicide at the age of 37.

Van Gogh was important to me because he showed that art can come from emotion and doesn’t have to be technically perfect. It can be used for pure expression.

More about Vincent Van Gogh:

4) Katsushika Hokusai, Born: Born: 1760, Edo, Japan.  He was a Japanese artist, painter and printmaker. He was known to use heavy lines and bold colors making his painting almost “cartoon-like” by today’s standards. He’s known to have influenced many Western painters, Van Gogh included. In fact you can see the heavy influence of his art in Van Gogh’s paintings. Hokusai’s most famous work is The Great Wave Off Kanagawa:


When I look at Hokusai’s work I think “style.” He wasn’t caught up in the academia of art and how things are “supposed to look.” Like in the picture of above, he didn’t follow any rules of how a wave is supposed to look in reality. He painted the waves his OWN personal way.

This is what he brings to the table. An artist should have his own personal style.

More about Katsushika Hokusai:

5) Whilce Portacio,  Born: July 8, 1963, Naval Station Sangley Point, Cavite City, Phillipines. He is a comic book writer and artist noted for his work on such titles as The Punisher, X-factor, X-men, Iron Man, Wetworks and Spawn. He was also one of the founders of Image Comics.

I was once a comic book nerd, still am to some degree, and when I first saw Whilce Portacio’s drawings I thought “wow.” There really is no other way to describe it other than that when he draws these comic book characters, they just look extra cool. When you see another comic book artist’s depiction of Spider Man or Wolverine, then look at Whilce’s version you see that his version has that “cool” factor about it. Check out his version of the X-men drawn in pencil:


Whilce Portacio is important to me because his art makes me want to pick up a pencil and just draw. His art sometimes tempts me to try my hand at doing graphic novels. Hmm?

More about Whilce Portacio here:

So these are my top 5. There are other artists that I love as well, but these are the main ones that had an impact on me. Check out their works and enjoy!

-Roz Abellera