This Miami Painter’s Work Encourages Living In The Moment


artist natalia juncadella walks towards her oil paintings in her home studio

In her Coral Gables home studio, oil painter Natalia Juncadella creates works that reference familial memories in shadowed settings.

Natalia Juncadella recalls watching her mother set a checkered tablecloth and offer coffee and fruit to visiting family. Bowls of produce, especially oranges, and blue-patterned plates were practically part of the decor in her childhood home. “When I paint that scene, it feels familial and creates a sense of peace,” she says. “It ties me back to tradition.”

These humble tablescapes are among the subjects of the Miami artist’s oil paintings, which reveal quiet moments of her life growing up: aerial views of orange wedges or sliced strawberries topping ceramic dishes; speckled bananas resting on sunny terra-cotta tile flooring; accents of greenery. That her works appear almost digitally manufactured is no mistake—Juncadella relies on her background in graphic design to bring a modern approach to the ancient medium—and always present is a layer of shadows, casting each setting in dappled light. “I’m drawn to their organic shapes and unique patterns,” she explains. “Beautiful shadows are always around us, and they’ve given me a reminder to be in the present moment. My goal is to elevate the mundane and remind you it is something we should be grateful for.”

oil painting by Natalia Juncadella of oranges on a blue plate in shadows

The artist brings a contemporary eye to her work, harnessed through her graphic design background.

oil painting by Natalia Juncadella of bananas and oranges on terra-cotta flooring under shadows

Always present are shadows, casting dappled light on the scenery.

four oil paintings by Natalia Juncadella hanging on her studio wall

A quartet of still-lifes.

paint swatches on paper

Paint swatches cover a table in her studio.

still-life by oil painter Natalia Juncadella of greenery against white wall in shadowed scene

Each piece reminds Juncadella to live in the present moment.

The ordinary scenarios harken to the artist’s upbringing in Miami, where her mother and father immigrated to from Colombia and Cuba, respectively, in the 1980s. In their West Kendell house, she learned art techniques from her mother, an oil portraitist who was also her school art teacher from fourth through eighth grade. “I’d see her bring a photograph of someone to life—I was in awe of the magic that happened,” Juncadella remembers. “She introduced me to various materials, like charcoal, pastel, watercolor, even clay.” Oil painting and graphic design resonated most with the budding artist, who studied both disciplines at the University of Pennsylvania, began her career in San Francisco and pursued her passion full time in 2021 upon returning to South Florida.

In her Coral Gables home, the artist transformed the dining room into an airy workspace, installing skylights but preserving the existing Mexican tile floor—the same she had in her childhood home—as a way to stay grounded to her past. Over the window are paper mache birds crafted by her mother—who, in another full-circle moment, now serves as her studio assistant for an extensive pre-painting process that calls upon Juncadella’s digital and analog expertise. The artist first uses computer programs to collage photographs she has taken, then renders compositions. After printing the final sketch, she mixes paint colors to mimic the tones, giving each shade its own shadow. Once the palette is established—evidenced by the swatches that decorate the studio walls—Juncadella can begin painting the image on canvas, taking her time as the pigments slowly dry.

As her paintings depend on memories to capture simple family moments, the artist expects to soon have a wealth of inspiration with the arrival of motherhood as she welcomes her first child, a son. “I think it will heighten my experience of being in the present moment and the way I see things around me,” she muses. “And even though I hope he loves art, I plan to give him the same advice my parents gave me: Pursue what brings you joy.”