MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. --
A vast, infinite blue covered the landscape with nothing but a small white line breaking the ever-changing shades. With a few simple, delicate brushstrokes, the sea began to flow off the canvas, detailing soft rushes of water.
Millions of these images exist, but each their own as only the artist knows how their mind will transfer to canvas.
“It isn’t the same as what others see, it is my own impression,” said Senior Airman Elihar David Toledo, 5th Medical Operations Squadron bioenvironmental engineering technician. “My art evolved from watching many different people’s style and creating my own.”
At the age of three, Toledo could sit and watch artists for hours.
“Instead of watching TV, I could watch somebody make something out of nothing,” said Toledo. “The more I watched, the more I wanted to paint myself.”
He first started drawing his toys. Through watching others and sometimes mimicking their work, Toledo grew to love art.
From then on, Toledo tried different mediums and styles, favoring acrylic and pastel for their vibrant nature and ability to convey moods.
“I can pretty much bring out how I feel on a canvas,” he said. “If I’m feeling stressed, I do a lot of sharp edges or explosions with the paint to release everything on the canvas. I want people to feel the mood I was in.”
With his artistic ability, Toledo planned to attend art school and even received a scholarship for his choice school. Before the school year started though, he had a change of heart.
“I figured why not join the Air Force, travel the world, experience some things and gain as much knowledge as I could,” said Toledo. “The Air Force has helped me achieve a higher education, and I feel like a better artist with my experiences than I would if stuck in one place at school.”
Through painting, Toledo has developed sharper skills, including better attention-to-detail.
“Toledo has always been able to find the things other technicians might have missed,” said Staff Sgt. Guillermo Gonzalez, 5th MDOS NCO in charge of occupational health and industrial hygiene. “He is very dedicated when he identifies problems to fix.”
Patience and dedication are also required to complete his work.
“Some of those paintings can take anywhere from a couple of hours to days,” said Toledo. “I have to be really patient to get the best final project.”
“When he works, I notice a switch flip in his brain,” added Gonzalez. “He realizes in order to get a good product out – whether in his art or Air Force job – you have to put in good enough effort.”
Not too long ago, Toledo started drawing chief master sergeants upon request of the Minot Chief’s Group. On Oct. 3, he gifted the group his 17th chief portrait, featuring Chief Master Sgt. Kaleth Wright, the 18th Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force.
“I didn’t think I was going to be doing 17 portraits,” said Toledo. “Knowing that these paintings will be part of Minot Air Force Base’s history is amazing.”
These portraits line the walls of a room in the Dakota Inn Dining Facility.
The majestic sea continues to flow, waves bringing in a large, wooden ship. Only Toledo knows what else the canvas will hold.