Artist of the Month: Sonya Gonzalez

Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

Art can not only transcend culture, but share it. When you think of intercultural art, what comes to mind? Is it Picasso's Bullfight, or carved African masks? Is it Greek marbles, or Toulouse-Lautrec's The Shopper? Is it a bold use of color? Or is it something closer to home? For my very favorite pieces of art are ones that show everyday life - anywhere in the world. Our artist of the month, Sonya Gonzalez, is a master at sharing a glimpse into life in another culture. I love her extraordinary painting, Tortillas Blanditas, as it shows her mother in the kitchen. This, to me, is the essence of sharing culture - what means the most to us, and documenting that importance and love. But Sonya is also extremely skilled at sharing vibrant colors, so much so that you get lost in the beauty of them. She also shares a whimsical side of life, in some of her paintings and cards. I know that our Wandering Educators will, as well, smile, gaze, and wish ourselves to the places that Sonya Gonzalez paints so beautifully.


Tortillas Blanditas, by Sonya Gonzalez

Tortillas Blanditas


Black paper - Angels in the Early Morning, by Sonya Gonzalez

Black paper - Angels in the Early Morning


Please tell us about your art...

My art is colorful, illustrative, whimsical, and cheerful. It is meant to bring a smile to the viewer.  I have been painting for over 20 years, have exhibited locally and nationally - the most memorable was an International Women’s juried show in Miami, Florida at the Calle Ocho Gallery, where I met wonderfully talented women from all over the world. My art has been featured on the covers of national magazines, some of which are American Recorder, Southwestern Musician, Music Educators National Conference, and The Poet magazine. I have a mural at the San Antonio Children's Museum and at St. Joseph's Church in San Antonio. I have created art for invitations, note cards, booklets, pamphlets, and posters for various nonprofit organizations, some of which are the S.A. Opera Guild and Youth Orchestras of San Antonio. 


I have painted on many backgrounds such as mat board, canvas, black paper, watercolor paper, plywood, using watercolors, acrylic paints, watercolors, markers, colored pencils, found objects, mixed media, etc.  


The paintings for this article show the variety of my work.  The majority of my Hispanic paintings have memories of my mother and family, i.e., Tortillas Blanditas, El Mantel (the tablecloth), and La Colcha (the quilt). These were painted on mat board with acrylic paint. The paintings of saints were created on board with acrylics, the Flowers, Angels Collage Labyrinth was on board using pieces from my own art. The Light at Spring and Suspended Flowers are acrylic on canvas. The music paintings were painted on card board or the back of legal pads using acrylics. Adagissimo was featured on the cover of American Recorder. The black paper paintings include: Angels in the Early Morning, Angel Tree, Wildeflowers, Wildflower Field, and Nature Lady.  Some of these were inspired by the poetry of Emily Dickinson and Martha Lavinia Hoffman — an exhibit of 19 pieces that took me a year to complete. Masterpiece is a collage of digital photos of my artwork and some of the saints that I exhibited plus silhouettes and a painting on black paper in the center of the piece. The watercolors: FEATURE card Awakening Flowers, Flower Pot, and the humorous works 6 am Marimba Concert, and At the Café were created for my greeting card line.


6am Marimba concert, by Sonya Gonzalez

6am Marimba concert


St Cecillia, by Sonya Gonzalez

Wood - St Cecillia


How/when did you start becoming an artist?

I started playing the violin at age 8.  Who would have known that at the age of 45 I would wake up one morning and say “I want to be an artist!”  I believe that in my case music had a direct impact on creativity later on in life. When I decided to become an artist, I had a very demanding job, and after attending a traditional art class I knew that was not for me. I started pencil-sketching trees. I was obsessed with trees and with their beauty. After seeing an ad on an abstract artist, I signed up for one of her classes. I will always be grateful to her for allowing me to express myself freely with as many colors as I wanted. I started as an abstract artist and moved to representational art over the years. Acrylic has been my main medium. I have taught art and violin to children and adults. This has allowed me to teach the self-taught way—suggesting, not requiring, a specific way to do art. I have taught workshops on “Painting on Black Paper”, a format that allows for brilliant colors and variations in design of flowers or objects. I also taught a collage class on labyrinth designs.


I have a Bachelor’s in speech therapy, M.Ed. in deaf education, almost completed a music degree and another masters in urban studies. I have taught on the college level and managed a nonprofit organization for many years. In 2012 ,after retiring from my free lance grant-writing business focused on arts organizations, I started a greeting card company called Cards by with images from my artwork. I felt that I could share my art in a more extensive way beyond exhibits. Cards allow me to show a variety of work all at one time.


Collage Masterpiece, by Sonya Gonzalez

Collage Masterpiece


Black Paper - Wildeflowers, by Sonya Gonzalez

Black Paper - Wildeflowers


At the Cafe, by Sonya Gonzalez

At the Cafe


What do you draw inspiration from?

My art is inspired by nature, family, color, humorous situations, faces, music, and the Hispanic culture. My mother’s kitchen was colorful, warm, inviting and filled with wonderful aromas. She published a beautiful cookbook with all her wonderful desserts titled Sweets from Marina with Love and can still be found through Amazon. I learned my love of colors from the Mexican culture. My sense of humor evolved in attempts to cheer my father, who was a physician, and had a serious disposition. It was a challenge but when he would crack a smile it made me feel good.


La Colcha, by Sonya Gonzalez

La Colcha


Light at Spring, by Sonya Gonzalez

Light at Spring


Black paper - Angel Tree, by Sonya Gonzalez

Black paper - Angel Tree


Where are your favorite places to create art?

My studio in my home with my husband playing guitar in the background (Dan teaches Music at a local college) and my kitties, Sergei and Calvin at hand, especially Calvin my orange tabby - who actually tries to paint!


Collage - Flowers, Angels, Labyrinth, by Sonya Gonzalez

Collage - Flowers, Angels, Labyrinth


Watercolor - flower pot, by Sonya Gonzalez

Watercolor - flower pot


Black paper - Wildflower Field, by Sonya Gonzalez

Black paper - Wildflower Field


Suspended flowers, by Sonya Gonzalez

Suspended flowers


What do you enjoy creating most?

I enjoy creating flowers, humorous situations, collage. I especially like the experimentation with different mediums. I continue to return to painting on black paper—it always amazes me what emerges from this background.


Adagissimo, by Sonya Gonzalez



Black paper - With a Flower, by Sonya Gonzalez

Black paper - With a Flower


The Performance, by Sonya Gonzalez

The Performance


How can readers find and purchase your art?

They can contact me at sonyartist [at] 
go to my card website: 
at my Etsy Shop:



Bow (Beau) Problems, by Sonya Gonzalez

Bow (Beau) Problems


Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?

The one thing I have saved over the years is the cards people have sent me. I like to re-read the message that was written. Cards are very meaningful that way--they are forever. It is my hope that the paintings and cards that I create will bring long-lasting memories and joy to those who receive them. The cards are Hispanic/Latino, Humorous cards in English and Spanish, Music, and floral. 


Saint Therese, by Sonya Gonzalez

Saint Therese


Black Paper - Nature Lady, by Sonya Gonzalez

Black Paper - Nature Lady





All photos courtesy and copyright Sonya Gonzalez