Friday, June 1, 2007

Congratulations to Jose Rodriguez

Award-winning Belleview painter lives for his art


BELLEVIEW - Jose Rodriguez doesn't like to be called an artist. The renowned Belleview painter instead simply describes himself as a "painter."

Rodriguez was one of four local artists recently awarded with best-painting prizes in a contest sponsored by Marion County's Growth Management Bureau. His "Salt Springs Run" and "Silver Springs" won him a best-painting award and an honorable mention, respectively. For this Army veteran, picking up the paintbrush is more than just a hobby; it's his passion.

"That's my life. That's who I am," Rodriguez said. "I live to paint, and I paint to live."

His love of the canvas began more than 30 years ago with a horse portrait he painted while still in high school.

"My parents still have that on the wall," Rodriguez said.

Ever since, he has put his hand on more than 300 paintings and murals throughout a successful career as a multimedia artist and designer.

Rodriguez describes his style as part impressionist, part realist. His palette is filled mostly with vibrant earthly tones that perfectly emulate the colors of nature, his main inspiration. The lining of clouds during sunset, the movement of water down a river and the flight of birds make up some of Rodriguez's favorite scenes to paint.

"I just feel like this is what it's all about - trying to capture what you see and trying to show people," said Rodriguez, who also teaches graphic arts at The Villages High School.

More than showing them, Rodriguez takes admirers of his art to a place of comfort.

"Most people that see my paintings, they say, 'I want to be there,'" Rodr’guez said.

It is that which has won him the respect from many, including other local artists.

Jarry Stapleton has known Rodriguez for the past two years, and both are members of Ocala Plein Air Painters, a group for those who like to paint outdoor scenes. She described his paintings as "easy to live with and colorful." Nothing is missing from them, she said.

Perhaps, that comes as a result of the intensity with which he takes on every new project, as witnessed to by Stapleton during the painting workshops the group holds every now and then.

"He puts his whole self into it," Stapleton said.

Rodriguez is so serious about every stroke he makes on the canvas that, for him, it is like an obsession sometimes.

"I call it the artist's curse," he said. "You want them (spectators) to see what you see."

Fortunately for him, that "curse" has been more of a blessing in his career.

Many times, his work has been compared to that of classics, such as Monet. Although Rodriguez does not deny his deep admiration of the French impressionist, he is quick to assert he always strives for authenticity in his paintings.

"It's flattering and all, but I'm not trying to be Monet. I want to paint like Jose Rodriguez stuff," he said.

And that is something he plans on doing for the rest of his life.

"I want to paint until I can't lift the paintbrush," Rodriguez said. "I want to be that 100-year-old man that still paints."

Contact Barbra Hernandez at 732-5807 or

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