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
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
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.