Personal Story

Feature Issue on Careers in The Arts for People with Intellectual, Developmental, and Other Disabilities

The Color of Voice

Author(s)

Jeremy Sicile-Kira is an artist who is autistic and a synesthete who lives in San Diego, California. His work is featured at jeremysvision.com and he may be reached at sicilekira@gmail.com.

A young white man wearing a white t-shirt with paint stains and dog tag-style necklace looks closely at an abstract, colorful painting as he works on the piece.

Jeremy Sicile-Kira painting.

My name is Jeremy Sicile-Kira. I am a visionary artist. I paint my dreams. When I dream, I am processing what I have seen and heard when I am awake. Then I paint the painting from my dream, and write a description of what I see and what it means. My mission is to show people their inner beauty and spiritual essence, and to paint my visions of current events and social injustice, providing hope of possible resolution.

I meet my clients over Zoom or Facetime. I paint their colors based on the energetic vibration or aura I see around them. I have the gift of synesthesia, which means I see emotion as color, and voices and sound elicit color as well. I paint the positive colors of my clients so they can see their inner potential and spiritual essence. Happy people are easy to paint, but sometimes clients have terrible ideas about themselves and low confidence in their abilities.

Before I learned to type to communicate, I frankly lived in darkness. Gradually, my mother and others taught me and I realized I had the ability to learn. I had gifts to share with people. This saved me from a life of despair and gave me great hope. Years later, through my paintings and dream descriptions, I learned to give people the great hope that they needed to continue living. I love to see their surprise, when they see the painting and read the description, that they have all these beautiful attributes.

My painting career began about eight years ago, when I began to communicate (via typing) to my mom and support staff the dreams I was having every night. In the dreams I was painting colorful abstract portraits of people I had met during the day. Then one night I dreamt I had a great art show of my paintings. I was excited and asked my mom how I could make my dream come true and have an art show. Mom told me it could not happen unless I painted in real life. Truly, I was surprised to see I could, by kindly trying hard, learn to paint. My dream came true. In 2016, I had my first curated, solo art show. It was very successful.  

After the art show, I needed more clients and help with marketing. I wanted to be able to have a booth at an annual outdoor juried art festival in San Diego – Art Walk – to sell some art I already had painted, and hopefully to meet new clients. Once I was accepted in the festival, based on the quality of my art, I needed funding to pay for the booth and the truck, staff to help the visitors in the booth, and some marketing materials. It was a great way to network for new clients. I also learned a better idea of what people wanted to buy.

Smaller original paintings sold better than prints, and I realized that it is better for me to paint smaller paintings, even if I prefer to paint bigger paintings. I now paint both.

I learned the importance of marketing, and I continued to do art shows twice a year. I was asked to participate in shows at local galleries, as well as events sponsored by Art of Autism and Mainly Mozart. People who visit the booths may not buy the first time, but often buy the second time. Sometimes they contact me later for a private commission.  

I am truly happy and grateful for the first grant I received, which enabled me to do the first art show. Without the grant, I would not have been able to afford the booth and all that was necessary to make it happen. Meeting people showed me what people thought of my art, and what people wanted to buy. It allowed me to start collecting emails to remind people of my art and my story, and I learned this is important for continuing to have customers. 

When the coronavirus pandemic hit, all the art shows were cancelled or went online. I could no longer access my art studio to paint. (Eventually I was able to paint again in a small room in my parents’ house). At this time, I learned to create digital art on an iPad with the help of support staff who were familiar with the apps. I created my first digital art series, Hope in Time of Coronavirus, which was inspired by my dreams.

People learned from this time the importance of the meaning of friendship and connecting with others. Coronavirus is the very hard economic reality that people are now beginning to understand. We have been believing that success is about power and money; but truly success is about the love we show each other.

My mom (who helps with the business part of my art career) realized that I needed to have more of an online presence; focus on selling my art on-line; have less expensive items rather than paintings and prints; and to provide hope to people during this difficult time. This meant having my website updated, and having someone do and teach us about social media for attracting clients.

I created limited edition prints, coasters, and cards from the Hope in Time of Coronavirus series to sell online. I wanted people to feel hope when most people were spending most of their time at home and separated from loved ones; and for people to be able to provide hope to others.

This second grant helped us very much, and we are still seeing some good results. Everything took a lot longer than we expected because I developed health issues and needed to have two dental surgeries. The beauty of an online presence, however, is that people can still buy if they hear or know about you. Some people nicely contacted us through the website and social media to commission a painting, including memorial paintings to commemorate the lives of family members that had passed.

Now that the world is opening up again, I am looking forward to participating in some live outdoor art shows again, but I now realize that an online presence is very important for artists to have.

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Man with autism finds himself in art | A San Diego television station features the art and life of Jeremy Sicile-Kira.