Mische Technique on masonite

20" x 16", 2014

Not available for sale


June 10, 2014


Omar was the youngest of my brothers. He had a learning disability and he was also epileptic. When my mother gave birth to him, there were complications and they had to use forceps to deliver the baby. The area of the brain related to language was especially damaged during that procedure.


From the beginning of his embodiment, the doctors told my mother that Omar was never going to speak. My mother never accepted this sentence and Omar spent his early years going from one therapist to another until my mother finally found the right one; a young psychologist, Dr. Kenia Sanabia. Omar started to talk and he was able to start and finish school. Omar was never able to articulate words with a clear diction but he was able to communicate with others. When people would first met Omar, no one would guess that he had any problems until he spoke. Emotionally, Omar was fully developed.


During his first visit to New York, I taught him how to take the subway and we would meet at my work at the end of the day. I would take him to different places from there. The first time we met up, I was very worried since it took him 1 1/2 hours to take a subway that usually takes 45 min. I was in a total panic and about to call the police when he arrived with his relaxed and smiling face.


A couple of years later, on another visit, he had a seizure in my apartment and I never let him take the subway by himself again. He was used to taking public transportation in Santo Domingo, and I felt that was scarier than taking the subway in NYC, but I didn’t want to take a chance. After all, he injured his head a few times during these seizures from hitting the floor.


All our brothers and sister protected Omar during his life. He was loved by everyone in the family, but, in other aspects, the family could not fulfill all his need. He struggled, for example, in finding friends or, when he was older, finding relationships. He had a few friends but, for most part, they didn’t have the patience to sit with him and try to understand him. It was very frustrating for him to be unable to communicate his feelings with precision.


In the course of his incarnation, he grew accustomed to having epileptic seizures from time to time and he took medication in order to prevent them. Omar would never forget about his medications but on his last day—or perhaps a couple of days—he didn’t take them and this made him have another seizure. He hit his head again and was taken to the hospital. He spent the day in observation and was then sent home. That night my mother asked him to sleep in her bedroom since she wanted to check on him and taking the stairs up and down to Omar bedroom was becoming more difficult at her age. He refused to do this at first, but later he came down to sleep on my parent’s bed. Before going to sleep he gave my mother his gold necklace. I never knew why this necklace was so special for him but he gave it to my mother that night and said: “I want you to have it.” She didn’t want to take it since she knew how dear this necklace was for him but she accepted it just to please him. After that, he went to sleep and he never woke up. He died in his sleep with a smile on his face.


On April 3rd, the day of his death, as I was fighting the feeling of sadness in me and concentrating my thoughts in surrounding Omar with light, I heard in my head the words, “I am free, I don’t have limitations anymore.” Since that usually happens, I thought it was my imagination until I talked to my sister. She said that during her decrees and meditations she saw Omar and he looked younger, with the bronze colored hair of youth and a bright smile on his face. He said to her with perfect diction: “Yo estoy muy bien ahora.” I am very well now.


I went to the Dominican Republic a week after his death to be with my parents and I started this portrait of him in my parents house. I wanted to see him again and by doing his portrait was a way to do this. Every time I am working on a painting of a person that has departed, I always feel the connection with their energy. Sometimes it feels like the person is standing next to me, observing the painting as I work on it and I really wanted to see and feel Omar again.

Contrary to many other paintings, when I started his portrait, the feeling of peace and happiness surrounded me.





 Copyright © by Miguel Tió