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Jacob Garcia outside with this easel. A close-up of one of Jacob's paintings.

Caring for Others Inside the ER and En Plein Air

  • Jacob Garcia, candidate for Bachelor of Science in Nursing ’21, has been giving back to the community through his passion for painting.

    With over 2 million people fully vaccinated in Massachusetts, and the state’s mercurial spring weather getting warmer by the day, more people are venturing outside after a long year in quarantine. In Boston, there seems to be a rejuvenated appreciation for the outdoors, from people stopping their strolls to watch the sunset to patio-diners admiring the cityscape. But a sunset can be fleeting, and nature’s beauty is often missed. To capture Boston’s beautiful landscapes for the enjoyment of anyone, MCPHS student Jacob (Jake) Garcia, BSN ‘21, has been painting “en plein air” [outdoors] and leaving his artwork on scene for people to take free-of-charge. Garcia’s inspiration was simple; he says he thought it would be nice for someone to be able to take home a view that they appreciate.

    Garcia’s generous giveaways are just one example of his caring nature; he is also a healthcare professional, in training to be a registered nurse. A student in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing- Accelerated program, he is taking a semester off to work as an emergency room technician at Boston Medical Center. He plans to work as an ER nurse when he graduates in December. “I’ve always wanted to be a nurse, so I’m not giving up on that. That’s just something I’ve always wanted to do. . . . But you know, you work three days a week as a nurse; you paint for four,” says Garcia. Time management is something that Garcia takes seriously in all areas of his life. Although painting is something that he enjoys, he is self-disciplined about practicing it. He plans to continue painting and balance it with his studies when he resumes nursing classes in May. “I like to build a schedule for school just like it was a job . . . . Nobody studies for 24 hours. I can find two hours to go paint somewhere. You gotta make time for things.”

    Just four paintings into his en plein air series, Garcia was featured by WBZ-TV and People magazine, as well as South Boston’s local magazine, Caught in Southie for this creative act of kindness. Likewise, his fanbase has expanded to well over 500 followers within the same month that he started his Twitter account, @JakeScapes. The purpose of the social handle, which he leaves on the back of each painting, is to let people know that the artwork is theirs for the taking. Since his first two paintings did not bear the social handle, he has no idea what happened to them, but ever since he provided a platform for the paintings, the popularity of his work has become clear. Grateful recipients often post to his page with selfies and expressions of thanks, and Garcia’s own posts have inspired conversation and even competition among his followers. For example, shortly after Garcia posted about his completion of his most recent South Boston scene, someone claimed to have sent their partner to “race down to the beach to grab it” for them.

    Further accentuating Garcia’s fast rise to fame is the fact that he does not have a long history of painting. He dabbled at it when he was in high school, but he became serious about the art just five or so months ago. In that time, he has watched several Youtube tutorials (namely Stefan Baumann and Michael Chamberlain), and many lectures on color theory, but most importantly, he has put in the effort to practice. “I do it a lot. I sit down for hours . . . .” he says. “You gotta do it; that’s the only way to get better at something. You can learn all you want, but you gotta do it.”

    Just like he took up painting, Garcia encourages people to try new things: “If they want to do something, go do it. Just do it and be bad at it and be uncomfortable. And if you like it, do it again and probably be bad at it again.” Garcia says that facing struggles and insecurities when trying something new is all part of the growth process and an inevitable way to get better at something. He experienced that same kind of self-doubt when he started his job as an ER technician, when he started his nursing program, and even recently as a painter. But he says he aims to be patient with himself and learn as he goes. He has also been encouraged by the support of his family and friends, and the overwhelming positive responses that he has seen online.

    To join the treasure hunt for Jake Garcia’s artwork, follow him on Twitter, @JakeScapes.