FeaturesQueer Creatives

Inside the Artist’s Studio

Gay painter Edgar Medina folds color and culture into his works.

Edgar Medina (courtesy photo)

Ever since childhood, Edgar Medina was always a creative person. Like most children, he loved coloring books and watercolors—a passion that eventually prompted him to take art classes in high school. But upon graduation, he didn’t see art as something that he could do for a living. 

“I took trade classes to become a dental assistant, and did that for about seven years,” he says. But he couldn’t deny the pull toward his creative side. “I wanted to do something with art. It’s always been my passion, but I didn’t know where to start or what to do. I didn’t know I could make it a successful career until [I left my dental job].”

He enrolled in classes at the Glassell School of Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, as well as at Houston Community College, and began the trek toward fulfilling his dream.

“I reduced my work hours to part time because I was showing my art in different places. It became overwhelming to create art, sell the art, and make a living while also taking classes. So I left school to pursue what became my full-time passion, which is painting,” he explains.

And he’s never looked back. Thirteen years into this endeavor, he is busy running an art studio and building up a dedicated client base.

“I like to think of my work as a fusion of my two cultures. I grew up in Mexico, and I get inspired by my culture for the colors in my works. The abstract part of my work comes from the United States.”

—Edgar Medina

Medina’s paintings are considered “contemporary abstracts”—expressive, full of bold color and energy, and inspirational. He has created multiple series of paintings, each with a different vision and infused with positive messages that encourage a belief in oneself. Collectors are especially drawn to his abstracts after he explains his inspiration and message behind each piece. 

“I like to think of my work as a fusion of my two cultures. I grew up in Mexico, and I get inspired by my culture for the colors in my works. When you think of Mexico, everything is very bright. The abstract part of my work comes from the United States—very bold, hopeful, and inspiring,” he notes. 

Medina finds the creative spark for his art everywhere, with sunsets, oceans, and landscapes being particularly helpful in getting his creative juices flowing. “Every time I travel somewhere new, I take pictures as inspiration for future works. Or when I’m out and about, I take a photo of something random like a graffiti wall or the Houston skyline.”

Medina reviews those photos and mental images whenever he starts a new painting. He reviews the colors from the images to start building the palette, and then takes an organic approach by letting the paintbrush and the hues direct his next moves.

That successful method can be seen in three series of paintings he’s currently working on, as well as in his artwork on display around town at the JW Marriott Houston Downtown, the Westin Houston Medical Center, Texas Children’s Hospital, and the Susan and Fayez Sarofim Pavilion at Memorial Hermann in the Texas Medical Center. He’s also shown works at art festivals in Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, and Santa Fe. He recently held a show at the Mexican consulate in Houston.

In addition to painting commissioned pieces, Medina does live-painting sessions at charity events, where he typically completes a painting in under three hours so it can be auctioned. “Live paintings are a lot of fun. I don’t know how I do it—I wish I painted that fast in the studio! It’s fun to create art in front of people. It gives me more energy, and I’m there for a purpose. I tell myself I have to finish because the painting is going to raise money for an organization.”

In spite of the deadline pressure at those charity events, he enjoys mingling with gala attendees during the process because those people sometimes become his clients. 

Giving back to the community is indeed one of Medina’s core values, and the reason he is so excited about a current project with the Make-A-Wish Foundation of America. “I’m granting a wish for a little girl who is in remission from cancer. Her only wish was to take art classes from a successful artist so that she can learn and hopefully have a show in the future. I’m teaching her art and the basics, and we’ll probably have a show involving her work very soon,” he says.

He’s also working on a new art show that he has titled Resilience. “It’s something I’ve been thinking about this last year, with what we’ve all been through. I’m inspired for the show because I feel like all our feelings are out there right now. We’re going through so many emotions. This will be mostly about the feelings we go through in life and in our journey—and just because you’re having a bad moment doesn’t mean that it will ruin your next day. Sometimes you must struggle in order to realize how strong you really are. That’s the inspiration for the show.”

Medina also wants to show his works in other parts of the world. “Maybe my first goal should be to bring my work to my home country. Hopefully my recent partnership with the Mexican consulate will open those doors,” he concludes. 

For more info, visit medinaedgar.com and nativecitizen.com.

This article appears in the August 2021 edition of OutSmart magazine.

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Sam Byrd

Sam Byrd is a freelance contributor to Outsmart who loves to take in all of Houston’s sights, sounds, food and fun. He also loves helping others to discover Houston’s rich culture. Speaking of Houston, he's never heard a Whitney Houston song he didn't like.
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