It is not just a figure of speech to say that Gladys Agustin has painting in her blood.
Gladys, 49, says she has been painting professionally for 31 years. Since March she has been selling her work next to the Beach House in Roatan’s West End. Previously, she said, she and her family sold their paintings on the beach next to Foster’s in West Bay for years.
Gladys says all three of her sisters, her brother, both daughters and both parents paint for a living. She credits her father, Kelly Agustin, for having influenced her to pick up the brush, but she says she is mostly self-taught: “I paint something, I learn.”
Gladys’s work, and that of her parents and siblings, reflect island themes, although with distinct personal styles. Gladys paints in an abstract Afro-Caribbean style, drawn from her imagination (she doesn’t use models). Her paintings depict recurring motifs, such as market scenes and women toting water on their heads. Her mother, Anardid, also portrays many Afro-Caribbean women in her works, but in more of a French impressionist style. Her father’s works are more “busy,” she said, with lots of people. Daughter Zuleica, 10, likes to paint birds and has a more realistic style.
Gladys’s paintings sell for around $50-$150 (negotiable) at her open-air gallery in West End. Business has been slow since she moved to West End, she said. “West Bay is better.” But she hopes to have Zuleica resume selling in West Bay soon. She is also thinking of opening a gallery in Tela, on the mainland, to be operated by relatives in nearby Triunfo La Cruz.
Zuleica, a student at Stanley/Paz Barahona school in West End, has been selling paintings since she was eight and signs them with her paternal surname, “Koky.” They are displayed next to her mother’s works at the West End gallery. Only Gladys’s three sons seem to have escaped the artistic bug. Their father, Bambino Koky, helps out at the gallery but does not paint.
Asked who is the best painter in the family, Gladys hesitates, giggles, then says, “My father and my mother.” Zuleica also studies the flute and says she prefers music to painting. “I like modern music,” she says. But the paintings sell. It’s much harder to make loot with the flute.