Isa was born in Managua, Nicaragua. In 1979 she had to leave her country with her family due to the revolution that took place to overthrow the Somoza dictatorship. Her family moved to the Dominican Republic and lived there for seven years and then moved to the United States in 1986.
Isa’s passion for art began at an early age. Her fondest memories of Nicaragua are of her and her siblings going to the beach to pick up sea shells. She would then decorate and paint them and hung on the family Christmas tree each year. In the Dominican Republic, she met her cousin’s wife, Katia Ramirez, an artist who soon became Isa’s first art teacher and mentor. Katia taught her the principles of drawing and her beautiful colorful paintings became a great source of inspiration to Isa.
In 1990, Isa pursued her love for traveling and became a flight attendant for Continental Airlines, now United Airlines. She got married and moved to Houston, TX, her home base for Continental. Through her travels, she has the opportunity to visit some of the greatest art museums in the world, such as The Louvre, the Musee D’Orsay (her favorite one) in Paris, El Prado in Madrid, Spain, and the Modern Museum of Art in New York, to name a few. Some of the paintings by the art masters influenced Isa’s art greatly especially Matisse and Cezanne’s harmonious and balanced still lifes and Van Gogh’s incredible bright colors.
In 1992, in her days off from flying, Isa attended college and earned an Associates of Arts degree from North Harris Community College. She bought her first set of oil paintings and started painting still lifes which became one of her favorite subjects to paint. She finds inspiration in the beauty of everyday objects. A favorite vase, an intricately patterned fabric, a beautiful color or the shape of a fruit could become the inspiration for a painting. The choices are endless. She has found oils to be user friendly, in that one can make changes as one sees how the painting is developing. Isa prefers to work from life and favors bright rich colors in “alla prima” style.
In 1996, while raising a family and flying, finding time to paint became more of a challenge. In this new phase of her life, her daughters, Alexis and Natalie, became a great source of inspiration and subject matter to Isa. She wanted to capture those adorable moments of childhood. That’s how Isa got started in a new series of portrait paintings, especially children. For portraits, she prefers to work from photographs so she can work at her own pace.
In 2000, Isa and her family moved to Seattle, WA where she met Betty Mears, a well-known local artist. Betty introduced Isa to watercolor painting and became her new art mentor and dear friend. She learned from Betty some of the beautiful qualities of watercolor such as glazing, layering transparent washes, and working wet into wet. But most importantly, she learned from Betty to enjoy the journey of painting more than the final outcome, to relax and have fun with it. In 2003, Betty introduced Isa to Pacific Gallery Artists, a group of local artists that met once a month to support each other, learn, share, and exhibit their work together.
In 2007, Isa became a member of the Broadway Artist Cooperative and moved her studio to downtown Tacoma where she enjoyed the fellowship and support system amongst the artists in the co-op. In November of 2008 and 2009, Isa participated in the Art at Work Studio Tour, a program sponsored by the city of Tacoma where local artists open up their studios to the public for one weekend to show how they work and to exhibit and sell their art.
Although Isa is primarily self-taught, many art classes and workshops have helped refined her skills. Isa has taken workshops with Betty Mears and Nina Mikhailenko. Isa has also taken art classes from Bellevue Art Museum (2003), Tacoma School of Arts (2007), and Pratt Fine Art Center (2008).
In the last few years, Isa has found in abstract painting a new source of inspiration, comfort, and a new way of expressing her emotions and feelings. She enjoys experimenting with different mixed media. She finds acrylics to be the perfect medium for her abstract paintings. Sometimes she likes to incorporate words or quotes of courage and support in her paintings to inspire and uplift others. To Isa, painting is a celebration of colors. It’s her way of expressing what is special, beautiful, and important to her. She also paints for the challenge and the joy of sharing her creations with others.
In 2010, Isa moved back to Minnesota and paints from her studio at home. She continues to fly for United Airlines. She divides her time between painting, flying, spending time with family, and running. She’s constantly trying to improve her skills and learn new things and is excited by the next great painting that awaits her. Isa also enjoys participating in Art Fairs during the summer in which she sells her artwork and gets to know other artists as well. As the artist Danny Kaye says, “Life is a great big canvas, and you should throw all the paint on it you can.”