Jota1) What is your inspiration for painting? What made you want to pursue a career in art? 

My inspiration develops as I submerge myself in the essence of the character through the brush strokes. It develops with every line I create, almost real time. I focus on trying to decipher the soul and get it on the canvas in the way my own inner eye sees it. I must catch myself in that moment; the journey is being taken in by the process. It is best when it all flows naturally. It’s a great feeling when that happens for an artist. I’m in love with painting; I cannot conceive of my life without it.

2) What got you into doing sports paintings? / Do you do any other artwork outside of the sports realm? If so what else? 

I’ve always loved sports. I grew up in Venezuela and was a big soccer fan. We did get to see American television, and I became a big basketball and boxing fan, as well. I think sports stars are the closest thing to super heroes. Every time I do a sport star, it develops into a tribute to their greatness. I do surreal portraits, so I try to portray interesting characters. At least, interesting to be, based on who they are, or even how they appear.

3) What medium do you work with and why? 

I work with acrylics and paint on canvas. Despite the fact that I consider myself to be a rather patient person, I have no patience for the time one must wait for oil paints to dry. When you are in the groove of work, the worst thing is to have to stop as the oils are too wet to continue. It’s like watching paint dry!

Deacon Jones Artwork by Jotal Leal

4) What is your favorite sport to watch and what is your favorite sport to paint? and why? Who is your favorite athlete if anyone? What is your favorite sports team (if any team)?

I love basketball. That was always my favorite sport, even though I’m 5’3. Yes, Muggsy Bogues size. I really love to paint boxers from past eras. I’ve done a few Ali paintings,  as well as drawings of Mike Tyson, Marvin Hagler and Manny Pacquiao.  I have no favorite sport to paint, as I love different characters. It is more about the player, the person, than the sport. My favorite team was the Bulls of the Michael Jordan era. Now I live in Houston so I support the Texans, but my heart is with Aaron Rogers and the Packers. I’m really starting to become more of a football fan every day, and look forward to doing more NFL stars.

5) Who are some of your favorite artists (past or present)? 

My favorite masters from the past are Vincent van Gogh, William Bouguereau and Rembrandt. The latter two were great masters of the human face and form. Bougeureau is a lesser known painter, but his 19th Century oil paintings are mind blowing. Present artists like Carlos Nine and Cassio Loredano capture my admiration today.