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Natural inclination: Javier Rodriguez finds freedom in art

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  • | 3:04 p.m. February 26, 2014
  • Arts + Culture
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As the adage goes, you have to learn the rules to break them. For Javier Rodriguez, even though he's been formally trained in art school, both in his native Puerto Rico and locally, at Ringling College of Art + Design, some of his most enjoyable work comes when he abandons the traditional rules and paints from the heart.

Although he recognized his talent at a young age, he says becoming an artist was never part of the plan.

"I never thought about ending up in this career," he says. "I knew I had some talent; I knew I could draw, but I never took it seriously."

At the suggestion of one of his co-workers, he decided to enroll in an arts school in Puerto Rico, where one of his professors suggested he move to the United States to pursue art full time. He eventually ended up at Ringling College, where he further developed his talent and broadened his skill set.

"At first, I was intimidated by color and by painting," he says. "It seemed like such a higher set of skills and almost a sacred media. But one of my professors told me to just approach color the same way I would approach my drawing — don't be afraid, just go for it — and that really helped. Once I started experimenting with watercolors, pastels and eventually oils, I found the skills were already there."

Now predominantly a painter, he prefers oil painting, and his style ranges from clear, realistic paintings to more expressive, abstract — sometimes even sloppy — pieces, depending on his mood. For him, art has always been the most natural form of self expression.

"Some people write; some people sing — I just paint," he says.  "I always try to be expressive. I try to portray my ideas. It's like my diary."