Some of Michael Velazquez’s paintings weigh 50 pounds.
They’re heavy because of their size and the materials — wood and a mix of resin, hardener and paint — used to create what he calls “liquid glass.”
Maybe they’re heavy, too, because the paintings carry years of Velazquez’s emotions.
“Some of them from a beautiful place and some of them from a cathartic place,” he says. “It depends on the day.”
If he wakes up with a “glorious cup of coffee” and quality time with his pup, a sense of happiness comes out on the canvas. On other mornings, however, the 35-year-old wakes up thinking about some of life’s obstacles.
“If I’m coming from a place of despair, I’m going to paint from that,” he says.
Looking at his pieces, it’s hard to tell what kind of day he was having. The abstract swirls and splotches could mean anything to anybody, he says.
“I just hope they can feel the energy coming off of it,” he says.
Plenty of paint and sleepless nights are required to fashion the whirlwinds of color that resemble beams of light or chaotic ocean waves. But much of how it turns out is not in Velazquez’s control.
That’s because of his method. He uses an epoxy resin that traps the movement of paint as it’s poured.
“Basically, however the paint is moving, it will get frozen in time,” he says.
This type of expression is new for Velazquez. It started last March as an outlet to deal with the stresses of quarantine. On the day state-at-home orders were announced in Colorado Springs, he went to his garage, turned on some music and painted out his feelings.
He’s always done some sort of art.
As a kid growing up in Miami, Velazquez was introduced to his creative side by his uncle’s bold, bright graffiti.
“That was my biggest inspiration,” he says.
That, and the disco music his mother played for him.
“She got me a guitar, and it felt like that allowed me to see the world,” he says. “That felt like my first paintbrush.”
Music and art both had a grip on Velazquez, who’d spend hours drawing but rarely show off his work.
“It was always about which was a better emotional outlet for me,” he says.
And Velazquez needed that outlet. To deal with bullies or teachers who made him feel small. Even though he’s 6-foot-3, he says he’s always felt like the little guy.
For a while, Velazquez’s outlet came as a tattoo artist, an occupation that brought him to the Springs in 2014.
This is when, he says, he leaned into his artwork.
“I just decided, ‘You know what, I have to express myself,’” he says.
That meant trying new ways of artwork, such as his recent “liquid glass” projects, even while juggling jobs at the tattoo shop and as a security officer. Already, his work is being recognized. He’ll show off his paintings at a show opening Friday at The Black Sheep.
For Velazquez, it feels good to share his creations. But it’s more important to him that his paintings make other people feel good.
“I’m trying to capture the raw entity of who I am and what I feel,” he says. “And maybe that will help someone figure out how they feel.”