~ Escondido Municipal Gallery ~ Watercolor West 44th Annual Exhibition ~ San Diego Watercolor Society
The backstory: Judge Earl Cantos was the patriarch of a wonderful family that "adopted" me a few years back. I'd been best friends with his daughter and her husband who invited me to the Judge's Kensington home one as she needed to check on her Dad who was showing, at 88, the symptoms on Alzheimer's. Mrs. Cantos, "Mom", adopted me right away and, being Greek Orthodox, rubbed oil on my brow followed by a loving hug. This is the Cantos family and I was officially the adopted son... I then started teaching watercolor in their patio because the family thought, since "the Judge" enjoyed painting, he might have something to do during the day.
My first class saw half-a-dozen students and it was wonderful watching the Judge "wake up" and join in. Some days he painted, some he sat and simply enjoyed, giving ME advice here and there about the demos I painted. That creative partnership produced my most acclaimed paintings... and certain ones, like Cantos Cove, New England, I titled with the family name out of love.
We lost the Judge in March 2012, a few days before Cantos Cove sold at the Signature American Watercolor Exhibition. As part of my grieving process, I needed to get his image down on paper. Painting people has never been my forte, but with "The Judge" (I called him that out of respect for his service on the bench), I felt it was time for me to face my one "weak" spot. The touching thing is that as I shared pictures of it in process, people, virtual strangers, came to understand who he was in life; what I'm sure every portrait painter strives to convey. I believe the Judge was in full support of my effort and brought understanding beyond time and place.