When Palm Harbor artist Patricia Filomeno moved with her parents from Lima, Peru, to Atlanta in 1995, she brought the colors and vibrancy of her native land with her. The colorful Peruvian homes, the bright red, orange and yellow hues of vegetables in the outdoor markets, and the rich variety of the world she left behind all inspired her art.
"Everything I saw was a source of inspiration — a glass of wine, a couple dancing, colorful peppers, even a cup of coffee," she said.
A 1999 graduate of the Art Institute of Atlanta, Filomeno, 36, began painting seriously when she moved to a Palm Harbor apartment in 2004.
"I wanted to decorate my new place with real artwork," she said, "and thought I would paint my own."
The walls of her apartment, which doubles as a studio, are now awash with color, particularly red, her favorite. Semi-abstract images painted in acrylic beckon the eye in all directions. A photo of several peasant women hunched under straw hats and clad in brightly colored shawls inspired one painting. In shades of red, the impressionistic forms of two women are arched under hats represented by two circles.
Most of her paintings, though, spring from her imagination.
"I begin by sketching an idea," she said recently, pointing to an open sketch book filled with images. "The colors I want to use often come to mind as I sketch."
A large canvas, 40 inches by 30 inches, depicts a moment in a bullring. A bullfighter holds his red cape while a bull lunges at it. The animal's stark white horns contrast with the deep red of the cape. Gold, brown, red and the velvety black of the bull all lure the viewer's eye to the action of the toreador.
"I've never actually seen a bullfight and don't like the idea," Filomeno said, "but I love the passion of the bull, the bright red cape and all the circular shapes that come into play."
Circles figure prominently in all of Filomeno's art. She likes "the softness and gentleness of round shapes." Paintings of guitars, one of her favorite subjects, exemplify the use of those circular brushstrokes.
"I love the curves of the guitar," she said. "They remind me of the shapely curves of a woman."
Resting on an easel in her living room is a large picture of a guitarist painted in shades of black, gray and white with splashes of pale copper — more muted shades than are seen in most of her canvases. A black-clad musician strums a large guitar, his body subtly dissolving into the instrument until the man and his guitar seem to become one.
The painting flows without completing the blending of shapes and images. That incompleteness gives the paintings interest, Filomeno said, just as imperfections often give interest to human beings in real life.
"Life isn't perfect, and neither is art," she said. "If it were, it would be boring."
Filomeno is just beginning to feel her way around the local art world and hasn't applied to any local art shows yet, but that is on her agenda for this year.
Some of her work has been exhibited in restaurants, including the Ybor Bunker, a coffee shop in Ybor City, at Tampa International Airport and in an art nook in the Palm Harbor Library. From those locations and several others, the art has sold for prices ranging from $300 to $4,200 for the largest canvases.
To make ends meet while she grows as an artist, Filomeno began a business in 2009 called Ink Graphics.
"I design websites, logos, business cards and anything else a company needs to run a successful operation," she said.
She also wants to start making products featuring her artwork, including coasters, images on candles, bookmarks, posters, wrapping paper and decorative home art objects.
"My goal is to earn enough money to give up everything else and devote myself to my art," she said.
Filomeno has been encouraged by the gallery and restaurant owners who have exhibited and often sold her paintings. One gallery owner once told her, she said, that the lines of her paintings "virtually dance across the canvas and the viewer is engaged in a visual treat."
"A visual treat — that's how I like to think about my art," she said.
Correspondent Elaine Markowitz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.