Just three years ago Magda Perez never picked up a paint brush.

Magdalene Perez

One of Magda’s first paintings, a self portrait.

They say art follows life; this time love gave birth to an artist. Magdalena Perez is living proof that television personality Bob Ross was a master painting teacher. Just three years ago Magda, my Miami neighbor, had never picked up a paint brush. Today, she is as good as artists who have been painting their whole lives. Her series of 15 lakeside scenes will be on exhibit at the VynnArt Gallery in Meredith, New Hampshire, June 29th to July 16th.

Eliot and I immediately bought one of her paintings when we previewed her collection before they got shipped off to the New England gallery. Her talent to capture still life is so unreal you almost feel like you are looking at photographs. It’s completely uncanny.

I must have asked Magda a dozen times during our interview how it was possible that she lived 40 years without knowing she had this inner talent. Her life partner, John Rutherford, said her dexterity skills have always been super special. “You should see her do a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle. She completes them in record breaking time. She can even do them upside down.

Magda, a Colombian native,claims she learned everything she needed to know to get started from Ross. She adds that she now takes an occasional art class to learn new techniques like how to mix colors. When she is in New York she attends the Art Students League. You can tell she was meant to be an artist when she talks about the New York art school. Her whole face lights up when she tells you about the teachers, students, and history of the institution. She loves going there for the inspiration.

Look at the wave and the reflections. How does a novice know how to do that?
This is actually a doll house that Magda replicated.
A close up of Magda’s self portrait.
Magda, instinctively, was able to capture landscape scenes.
Lake friends
The iconic scene in Central Park. Magda painted this like a pro.
Eliot and I bought this one. We found this amazing.
Isolation at best.
Magda and John’s dog Goldie. This painting by Magda is perfect.

Magda’s studio in Miami is in one of the bedrooms of the condo she shares with John. You have never seen anything so neat in your life. She is meticulous about her surroundings. No splatters, no sprays, no spots anywhere. You think you are entering someone’s lavish office. Every brush, every paint, every canvas is lined up like it’s in a retail showcase. Magda’s a neat freak.

She’s been that way ever since she walked into a Michael’s art store in Miami a few years ago asking the clerks to help her stock up with everything she would need to paint her way through the pandemic. She and John escaped to a private island in lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire to stay safe during Covid. Magda spent most of her time painting and experimenting with acrylics, oils and charcoal. Her imagination was running wild while she painted many of the surrounding lake front sights. She wanted to capture the beauty of this unspoiled area. It was amazing that she was capable of painting pictures with such rich, vibrant colors. I’m no art connoisseur but I can honestly say Magna’s paintings all contain some sort of magnetism that makes you stare at them for long periods of time.

That has been the reaction of many of our neighbors in the South Pointe area of South Beach. We have been amazed that we knew Magda before she ever picked up a paint brush to the masterpieces she is producing now. To many of us who can’t draw a straight line, this is a miracle in the making.

Magda and John
Magda and John

Magda moved in with John a number of years ago after meeting him in Columbia when he traveled to the country to perfect his ability to speak Spanish. He met Magna, the owner of a well-established hair salon in Medellin through a friend. She and others escorted John around the city only speaking to him in Spanish. While communications between Magda and John were limited at first, they soon discovered that they enjoyed each others company. I would guess that one of the attractions was that they were both looking for uncomplicated lives. By that I mean, less drama and more fun.

John was a transplant from New Zealand who spent most of his life deep in business and Magda was a country girl who moved to the big city to be self supporting and build a career. They both had their fair share of hardships and successes and now wanted to bring more joy into their lives. The only trouble was that they didn’t know how to communicate that to each other because of the language barrier.

John explained that the problem resolved itself in the strangest possible way. This story is one for the books. He wanted a more serious relationship with Magda but had no way of actually explaining that to her. He decided to take her to dinner one last time to see if there was any chemistry between them. Magda tends to be on the shy side so she was not going to necessarily show any signs of affection without cause.

John made the restaurant reservation in his broken Spanish. He was asked a bunch of questions which he felt he answered properly. When the couple arrived at the restaurant, they were directed to a table that looked like it was decorated for Valentine’s Day. There were hearts and rose petals on the table and all kinds of flowers framed their cozy little area. Both John and Magda were embarrassed at first but quickly adapted to the mood that was set up for them. John still insists he doesn’t know what he said to the reservationist but whatever he communicated did the trick to cement the relationship.

I am just guessing, but I believe that Magda’s new life in America has brought out the artistic gift in her. She recently did a painting of the boathouse area of Central Park that I swear looks like it was created by one of the masters. How is it possible that someone who never drew a picture in her life can produce such an image? Wait till she unveils her series of portraits. They are outstanding.

I am the first writer to feature and review Magda’s work. What a privilege. Maybe I will become famous just for that. I’m hoping that Magda’s work moves into abstracts. I am very anxious to see what her mind creates. I will be the first to report on that as well.

2 thoughts on “Just three years ago Magda Perez never picked up a paint brush.

  1. Lois, I remember when she first picked up a brush and with no training at all she created a delightful albeit somewhat amateur painting and the rest is history.

    Her talent grows with each work so the future holds great things. Steve

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