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By Victor Rexach

The colonial charm of its architecture.

The refreshing sound of the four rivers criss-crossing the


The constant flight of colorful hummingbirds flitting

around the precious mountain surroundings.

The bright equatorial sun lighting up the pleasant


These are some of the characteristics that make this

place so unique.

But perhaps the main reason why people instantly feel

love and infatuation for this city, is because of the

beautiful sky-blue domes of the New Cathedral

in Centro Histórico.

This is just the beginning of why so many foreigners are

traveling here and deciding to stay. By now you’ve probably

guessed that I’m referring to the

cultural capital of Ecuador - the city of Cuenca.

Love at First Sight - Again

In 1980, after graduating from college, I had the opportunity to

leave Puerto Rico and live in Florence, Italy for a year.

I was so drawn to its dramatic beauty, the liveliness of the art scene,

the depth of its history, and the abundance of nature all

around. I instantly fell in love, and it became my first

choice as a place for retirement.

In 2018, I came to Cuenca, finding that not

only did it possess many of the things that had captured

my heart in Florence, but also the benefits that would make my life

more pleasant, such as housing, health, climate, cost and quality of life.

It was then that I realized that this cultural city

was the place to start my retirement journey in life.

Four years later, I’m still in love.

There is so much cultural and artistic expression here. Its

artisans are friendly and hardworking people. Increased

recognition and support from the local community and

the scores of visitors and new residents, like me, could

help expand and enhance the cultural landscape.

I always knew that after retiring I wanted to do

something productive and enjoyable related to art,

especially painting, which is my favorite visual

expression. So, I decided to make a personal commitment to

become a volunteer ambassador to help promote and support

the Cuencano art scene in my own way.

Immediately after arriving in Cuenca, I joined a group of

amateur painters—the Vino and Van Gogh group,

directed by talented teacher Amelia Earl—that was

gathering every month in “Parque San Sebastián.”

This was the beginning of improving my creative skills,

meeting new friends and professional artists, and

affirming my passion for painting.

In 2019, a year after I made Cuenca my new home, the

unexpected pandemic hit.

Like most places in the world, it wreaked havoc on our

plans, dramatically affecting tourism, the hospitality

industry, restaurants, and businesses in general.

But despite the uncertainty of

when it would end, the enthusiasm and desire to

continue expressing ourselves through art was never

lost. The passion and resilience in the city made me

realize my desire to find an even greater way to

encourage painting and support Cuenca’s local talent.

The Joy of “Plein Air”

“Plein Air” is a French expression meaning “in the open

air.” It was coined centuries ago but brought into the

mainstream art world by French Impressionist painters

like Claude Monet, my favorite famous French artist.

In fact, much of Monet’s work was done “plein air”

in the diffuse light of a large white umbrella.

Inspired by this artistic discipline and motivated by

possibility in the wake of the pandemic, the idea for

“PaintourArt” was born.

I immediately started looking for countryside places of

cultural tourism interest that would also offer inspiration

for outdoor painting.

In May of 2021, PaintourArt team set out on

its first excursion to the town of Biblián about a 40

minute drive north of Cuenca, where Trebol Roses Farm

would serve as the stunning backdrop for

our plein air expression.

It turned out to be an incredible all-day experience!

We began with a delicious breakfast, followed by an educational tour

of the greenhouses where we learned about the

planting, cultivating, and harvesting process for more than 30

different rose varieties.

A gourmet lunch followed, and then we began our

open-air creations with wine and relaxing music under the

direction of well-known Cuencano artist Cristian León, “Cleon,”

my best friend and business partner.

After an inspiring day of creativity and companionship,

we each went home with our own works of art and great


PaintourArt is still Blooming

I’m very blessed and grateful that interest in PaintourArt

continues to grow. I, along with Cristian, continue to seek

out unique venues that will provide the perfect plein air

settings for our tours.

To date we have painted at Ecuagenera Orquideas del

Ecuador in Gualaceo, in Cajas National Park, and at the

Inti-Kamari resort in Yunguilla, among other sites.

No matter the location, the participants feel a deep

sense of relief from stress on the mind, which in turn

relaxes the body. Studies show that relaxation minimizes

muscle soreness, joint pain, headaches, and other

physical ailments, resulting in a freer expression of our

human senses.

I’ve learned that the act of painting, particularly in

inspiring environments, releases endorphins (the “feel-

good” hormones) which open the pathways for a sense

of joy and fulfillment. Painting can, indeed, transform us into more

positive, well-rounded human beings.

PaintourArt offers a fun, interactive, and educational way

to accomplish it. And that’s what makes our tours so


Another artistic outlet I’ve been blessed to create as well

is called “Tullpuna Nights Wine and Art,” a monthly

painting gathering presented in collaboration with

Cuenca cultural center idiomART.

If you’re interested in painting for the first time, or desire

to enhance your skills, it can be the perfect place to start

exploring and discovering the artistic creativity within


You don’t have to be a Pablo Picasso or Salvador Dali to

express yourself artistically. Painting, in my opinion, is an

experience that cannot be compared to anything else.

You just have to try it, to feel it.

As 2022 is coming to a close let us look back, not just at

the many challenges and difficult situations in the world

that may have uprooted or delayed our dreams, but also

at the many things we’ve learned and how we’ve grown

that will carry us forward in a positive direction into the

new year.

PaintourArt is committed to helping showcase Cuenca as

an important tourist destination for art and painting

lovers from all over the world. “Plein Air” will continue to

be our primary focus and we look forward to welcoming

the first group of international painters. They just might

be from France!

So, join us and let’s paint.


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