A Magic Box of Crayons

A Magic Box of Crayons

Ines Alvidres builds a new life with color

Words by Deborah Burst
Photos by Kenyan Guidry

Dining under a shady pecan orchard in Beaumont, Texas, the waning sun cast a golden glow across a never-ending pasture. Then an explosion of color filled the sky, a stunning portrait in the eyes of local artist Ines Alvidres. Staring at nature’s latest work, Ines began sharing her own masterpiece, how a box of crayons changed her life. 

The family lived in Chihuahua, Mexico, and Ines loved it so, strolling in the city holding her mother’s hand, mesmerized by the native Tarahumara’s long, beautiful hair, dark as night, and clothing etched with bold shapes and bright colors. A portrait so strong, it cast a spell on Ines, igniting a deep passion for color. So began her love for art. Today, that same artistry can be seen in her paintings throughout Chihuahua, waves of free-flowing art paying homage to the city that started it all.  

She had no paintbrushes, no canvas, no fancy easel; her imagery was etched with crayons on tattered bits of paper. Ines clearly remembers as a young girl anxiously awaiting her older brother’s visit from his new home in Beaumont. He would bring her a box of crayons. 

“I opened the box, and it was full of crayons. Even though there were only four colors, I was still impressed, like a box of treasures. I created with them for a long time,” Ines explains with a huge smile.

Color was her savior; the vibrant shades throughout her hometown spoke to her, a language of their own. The music and brilliant costumes were sewn into the fabric of her family’s legacy. And then they had to move, start a new life in a new country as their town was besieged with crime and violence. Ines was 16 and didn't speak English. The first couple of years were filled with turmoil, fear of a new place, and homesickness for Mexico. But she didn't let that stop her.

She carved a new life cleaning tables at a popular Beaumont restaurant. It was hard at first; she was subjected to rude comments and people complaining they couldn’t understand her because of her strong accent. “I was 17 years old in high school with dreams of college. I moved from cleaning tables to a hostess job, then a waitress job where people would ask for my table.”

And then it happened; she was cleaning a table and saw crayons scattered about. More than a decade later, now a senior in high school, her world came full circle.

The crayons her brother gave her in Chihuahua, those primary colors he saved and put in a box, were the same crayons from the same restaurant. 

“Instead of throwing them away, my brother saved them for months and months,” said Ines, her voice quivering with emotion. “The trash of some is the treasure of others. Beaumont came to me before I came to Beaumont.”

In her senior year of high school, Ines’ Spanish teacher knew how much she loved art and assigned her a mural of Mexico for the Cinco de Mayo program. She had mixed feelings as the size of the project seemed overwhelming, but she needed to challenge herself. One sleepless night, Ines created a masterpiece of her homeland on a large canvas of two old bed sheets sewn together. 

Such a simple assignment ignited a lifelong journey for Ines. “This would be the first night of many where I would spend all night painting. I knew I was doing something that matters, not only for the school program or my classmates but future students.”

Today, Ines has transformed from a frightened teenager into a talented artist with work throughout Beaumont and Texas. She paints the town with passion and an undying appreciation for a city that has forever changed her life. Her work can be found in restaurants, both on the walls and tabletops, and as stunning murals across town and on colorful picnic tables along the nature walk.

“I prefer the speed of acrylics so that I can work on multiple pieces at a time, moving from the last one right back to the first. During the process of each painting, dozens of colors develop; the colors choose me at the moment,” Ines explained.

Ines is an active member and participant at the Art Museum of Southeast Texas, The Art Studio Inc., and the Beaumont Art League. Such a generous soul, she donates multiple paintings to fundraisers and works with children in the summer creating murals around town. It’s very inspirational, sharing my story and remembering how, as a kid, I was an artist but didn’t know it yet. The things today I see as impossible, I know can become a reality. I see the doubts and fears as lessons.”

Her talents have come full circle, from her love of art drawing with crayons as a child, to painting murals across her beloved Beaumont. Ines’ artistry is more than a pretty picture, more than a rainbow of everyday life. Her mission is to make people smile, bring more people to the city she loves. Art that seeps deep, deep into your heart, so colorful, so vibrant—like a fresh box of crayons.