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Latina Lista: News from the Latinx perspective > Columns & Features > American Dreams > Drawing inspiration from life proves the perfect path to finding the American Dream

Drawing inspiration from life proves the perfect path to finding the American Dream

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Eva Ruiz, a self-taught artist, finds it’s possible to make a living at something that comes natural, as well as, rewarding when giving back.

Eva Ruiz was never the teacher’s pet in school. No matter how hard she tried, Eva just couldn’t focus on taking the kind of notes her teachers expected. Instead, she filled her notebooks with another kind of note-taking that had nothing to do with school.

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“I got into a lot of trouble at school,” Eva admitted. “My notebooks were filled with drawings. I was never a good student.”

While the rest of the class was learning history or English, Eva envisioned shapes coming alive and parading through her mind. What she saw in her mind’s eye was so vivid and amazing that Eva just had to draw it — on notebook paper.

Eventually, Eva graduated from her spiral notebooks to canvas. Her journey to being a successful artist was the second one this young Colombiana made in finding her “American Dream.”

Arriving in Miami from Bogota, Colombia at the age of eleven, Eva, her sister and parents left their friends and family behind in search of a better future for themselves in the United States.

Eva Ruiz focuses on bringing her imagination to life.

For Eva, though creating art came natural to her, it was something she never seriously thought she could make a living at. So, she followed the more traditional route of answering want-ads.

“The first job I had, consisted on refinishing antique furniture,” Eva remembered. “I worked as a sales person, bartender, waitress and as an attorney’s assistant. That last job was the end of the rope. After that one, I decided I’d do anything to be able to love my job.”

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With her parents’ support, Eva slowly became a professional artist.

At first, she wasn’t sure that she could make a living from something that she enjoyed so much but it didn’t take long for her to realize it was her destiny.

“The first painting I sold at a show was (of) a goddess, a piece I started and finished very quickly,” Eva said. “I dropped it off at the gallery. I arrived home and received a phone call right away. The painting had been sold right after I left. The face of the woman I painted looked like a woman that visited the gallery with her husband. He bought it for her. The painting was never hung, they saw it by accident.”

Eva says she sees that first sale as a sign from the angels that she was on the right path in choosing her new career.

Since then, Eva has continued to paint, drawing inspiration from the simple things in life.

One of Eva’s favorite ways to find inspiration is to paint in public places. In Miami, the city hosts a monthly art night where artists paint surrounded by strolling couples, running children and live music.

One evening as she sat painting, an elderly woman came up to her. She told Eva that she had read in the paper that there was going to be a Colombian artist painting live and she came just to meet Eva and show her support.

“After we spoke for ten minutes, she went home,” Eva remembered. “I was so proud. To her, I was representing our birth country; it was beautiful.”

Because she feels blessed to be able to do something she enjoys, Eva routinely gives back to the community by contributing her artwork to worthy causes. Favoring those that deal with children and empowering the helpless, Eva has donated her work to children’s charities, domestic violence causes and is always on the lookout for more ways to help people.

It’s a passion that she foresees carrying with her all her life.

When asked where she saw herself in ten years, she said, “I see myself living in a very conscientious community, owning an art academy, a place where children can come to be encouraged and free with their imagination. I see myself painting murals with groups of children, traveling and bringing the message of unity, change and hope to many, many people.”

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