Famed Colombian painter Fernando Botero, known for his colorful and portly figures, said he has many painting years left in him even though he just turned 80.

"I often think about death and it saddens me to leave this world and not be able to paint more," Botero told Agence France Presse in an interview. “I love it so much.”

The wire service says he’s not letting his age get in the way of his work. Botero, who turned 80 Thursday, said he still paints 10 hours a day.

"I work more now perhaps because I know that there is so little time left," he said.

Botero’s pieces have hung in such places as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., and the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, Mo. His colossal bronze sculptures are featured in high-end hotels all across the world.

In 2005, he made waves for departing from scenes of chubby people and took on graphic images of the Iraq war. His works, which travel across the world, graphically depicted prisoner abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison.

His fame has made him the pride of Colombia. His main gallery in Medellín, Colombia, near his hometown of Rio Negro, and an outdoor park called Plaza Botero are a must stop for Colombian tourists.

But he told AFP he has no plans to return to Colombia, where he said he had a difficult start and was expelled from school. His family told him he would never be able to make a living as a painter.

"But I did it anyway and fortunately I'm still here painting," he said.

Botero’s works, particularly his large sculptures, easily fetch over a million dollars. His monumental bronze "Dancers" sold for over $1.7 million last year in New York and in 2007 his icon marble piece Mujer fumando", or "Woman Smoking" sold for $1.6 million.

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