Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Nomadic Spanish painter Jaime Adan shaped his life around art since age 15

"Two Lives of Jaime Adan," photograph by Stefan van Drake

“And I think it is important to recognize if you are an artist or not. Build a life and a career that accommodates your being an artist instead of trying to be an artist.

“It is either something that’s in you or it’s not, and you cannot fake it. I would say to not worry about being an artist or trying to make art, just kind of make whatever you have to make, and then build a life around that.”

Ryan McGinness, professional artist in Chinatown, New York City, 15 March, 2006 in Joe Fig’s book, “Inside the Painter’s Studio.”  (See: ArtTraveler review of Fig´s 2011 research project that got published.)

When I read this, I flagged it and came back to it again and again, each time gathering glimpses of former nomadic painter, Jaime Adan.

Jaime knew early in life he would always be making art, growing, always evolving, attacking blank canvases with zeal and concepts aforethought, and conquering them one at a time.

Jaime Adan´s kit as nomadic artist, photo by Stefan van Drake

Jaime´s mother, seeing his raw talent, won the argument with his father, and at age 14 he entered a Madrid art school.

After a few weeks of his charcoal drawings circulating among the faculty, the school administrator and teachers met with Jaime´s mother and Jaime.

There´s not much more we can teach him, they confessed, and out the door he went.

Leaving home at 15, self-emancipated and self-taught after 15 years of world art travel, Jaime´s journey finally led him to his partner, fine arts photographer, Camila Verswyvel Herrera, mother of their three-year old son, Nilo.

Nilo, Jaime & Camila, 2008. Photo by S. van Drake

For the past five years, Jaime, Camila and Nilo settled in Puerto Vallarta and more recently near Morelia, Mexico where he continues oil and mural painting, about half commissions, half his own pursuits.

But as a nomadic artist, Jaime built his life around his art.

Survival and self-sufficiency as a working artist followed him everywhere.

He traveled widely throughout Europe and North Africa, but primarily in Central and Latin America, living primarily with indigenous peoples.

He also lived with Navajo Native Americans in the United States. 

(He attended high school in Georgia as an exchange student and lived in Brussels with his family for a few years.)

His art travels inspired hundreds of drawings and scores of paintings of indigenous life, rural and urban scenes, whatever turned him on.

He would draw for food and lodging, often becoming the “village painter,” the go-to man for portraits, well liked and appreciated.

For the past five years, he´s lived and worked as oil painter and muralist in Mexico.
Jaime Adan painting commission for Italian mosaics artist.

He´s settling down to family life as an artist.

Art now has a jealous mistress, his family. He manages to balance both intensely.

Then, nomadic Jaime, armed with a leather satchel carrying brushes, pencils, watercolors and sketch pad, made a living and often left some remote border station in the mountains of a South American country with “pockets full of cash.”

Jaime would leave behind AK-47 armed, uniformed military or police, waving, happy with an original Adan of them cradling their weapon.

Jaime puts it this way: “I desire continuing to grow, learn and innovate at all levels, thanks to the commitment I have and love I get being able to carry out my profession without limit.”

As we make choices in life, our economies of scale change.

Jaime Adan, oil on canvas

Jaime, Camila and Nilo survive and flourish at the same time.

From a small leather satchel, a backpack and the clothes and confidence on his back, life for Jaime Adan has grown more complicated but still controlled, passionate and purposeful.

He and Camila own two very used but reliable cars, rent a modern, country home.
“Yes, I am poorer than ever, yet I find myself more careless, more confident than I have ever been. I laugh every day like the mad hatter. Have I gone crazy?

“Perhaps, for I don´t care about anything else. We know who we are and we will come out of anything if we learn to remain humble, happy and yes, somewhat NUTS!” he wrote me this week.

Jaime, Camila & Nilo Adan, 2008 Photo by S. van Drake

Practice peace and love.

Stefan, the ArtTraveler ™

Come to Andalusia for a walking holiday or week-long sculpture or mosaics workshop. See: and
Please alert me to any arts news tips, happenings or background info you think may interest us all. 

Or, call me in Spain: (34) 951 067 703 or from the UK at BT landline rates, 0844 774 8349;

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