LOREAUVILLE — There are two paintings that hang above Julie and Glenn Oubre’s bed in their New Iberia home. The paintings depict angels watching over the couple as they sleep and they give great comfort to their son Trent Oubre.
He painted them as gifts to his parents, his favorite thing to do with pieces he’s been working on, he said. He likes to think of them as protecting his parents from harm.
Oubre, 37, never took painting classes, he said, and approached the art as he does many things in life by “figuring it out” as he goes. He calls himself a “Jack of all trades and master of none.”
“He’s just gifted,” his mother, Julie Oubre, said. “He has a talent and we’re working on replacing all of the art in my home with his stuff. “
On a trip to Grand Coteau to visit a friend’s aunt who was a painter in 1999, he was inspired to pick up a brush.
“I thought ‘I could do that,’ so when I went back home and I bought some paints,” Oubre said. “It was frustrating when I first started. I knew what I wanted to see but often there’s like 10 paintings under every finished painting. It was a relief to finally see what I wanted to on the canvas.”
Most of his work includes figures and often with an emphasis on faces and expressions which is what he said he enjoys painting the most.
“Especially when they’re playing music,” Oubre said, which is another of “Jack’s” trades.
Oubre was a “Sunday painter” for a while, he said, then stopped all together. He has picked up his art again over the past several years and now hopes one day to become a commercially successful artist. He’s already done a few commissions, he said, and is looking to participate in an upcoming art walk.
There are many things in Oubre’s life he’s figured out as he went, he said, like there really is no place like home.
After college at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Oubre moved to Los Angeles to work as a production assistant for sitcoms and music videos, he said. After a year he longed to return home.
“I thought it was all too fast-paced for me,” Oubre said adding he moved home to New Iberia for the next year.
In 12 months’ time he decided to try “away from home” again and headed to San Francisco, where he worked odd jobs until again a year later he returned to Louisiana. This time, however, it was to the in-between pace of New Orleans. He worked at WDSU in New Orleans and then at www.Nola.com and settled in to life in the Crescent City until a brief hiatus in Houston before deciding he needed to head back to the Bayou State.
Oubre lived in the mid-city area of New Orleans when Katrina hit in 2005. He evacuated at the last minute, he said, but 8 feet of water in his home took away every earthly possession he had.
“I lost everything, but I felt pretty good about losing everything,” Oubre said. “It was almost like a cleansing. But, there were so many sad stories there afterward.”
New Orleans post-Katrina was depressing, Oubre said, and after the day some neighborhood children threw a rock at him as he was riding his moped, it was time to leave for good.
Oubre moved to Loreauville eight months ago, into his grandmother’s home full of childhood memories. His mother said if she would have told him upon high school or college graduation that he would end up in Loreauville, he would have never believed her.
“He had to go out and spread his wings to realize this is where he wanted to be,” Julie Oubre said.
Trent Oubre said he had enough of the fast pace of the big cities.
“I had this ideal vision of living simply, of gardening and my grandmother’s house,” Oubre said.
His garden is a thriving chaos with corn, squash and other vegetables, not putting food on the table — yet, he said. But his approach to his garden is like his approach to life — figuring it out as he goes.
“There’s probably an easier way than the way I do things, and I’ll eventually get there,” Oubre said.
He works out of his peacefully simple Loreau-ville home as a freelance graphic designer and spends as much time as he can painting. He tries to every day, he said. His studio has a medley of items from his vibrant paintings to musical instruments and a pretty high tech-looking computer network. When bored with one thing, he shifts to the next, he said as he picked up an accordion to squeeze out a few notes.
And often, he sits back in his chair and glances around him at the faces he’s painted and enjoys wondering what they must be thinking, he said.
“I think they’re thinking about all the places they’ve been,” said Oubre, who no doubt spends time thinking the very same thing.
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