Sunday, November 29, 2015

Power to Persevere

Looking back at the year I've been thinking about the power of perseverance and it's importance in my own life. What mattered most to me about the story Margarita Engle wrote about Millo Castro Zaldarriga, was her determined courage to keep going. It's much easier to give up than persist through setback and disappointments. 

In early November, I made this drawing of Churchill, someone I greatly admire. Sure he had vision and leadership but his persistence is what really stands out for me.

Three BIG ideas from Sir Winston:

Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no less enthusiasm. 
Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.
Continuous effort-not strength or intelligence is the key to unlocking your potential. 

He struggled with poor health, hives, boils, rashes, pneumonia, strokes, a lisp and was practically deserted by his parents. As a politician he was sometimes disliked by his colleagues but each time he fell down he stood up again. He wasn't afraid to take a stand and was known to cross the aisle if he believed in something. He pressed on and on to lead his country and the world.

Bessie Coleman from Wikipedia

Bessie Coleman came from a family of sharecroppers and grew up in poverty abandoned by her father. She walked four miles to school each day and excelled at Math. An avid reader, she was compelled to fly after reading about World War I pilots. As a black woman she would never be accepted to an American pilot school so she took a French-language class at the Berlitz School in Chicago and moved to France. Bessie simply refused to take no for an answer. She enrolled in flight school and eventually did exhibition flying as a barnstormer and gave lectures across the United States from 1922 to 1926. She turned down opportunities to perform unless audiences were desegregated and her career as the world's first African American pilot inspired those who would follow. Today there is a postal stamp in her honor, a library and middle school that bears her tenacious name.

JANE GOODALL the determined scientist and conservationist whose patience and persistence to understand animals contributed so much to the world.

MARIE CURIE whose admirable persistence in the face of many research obstacles made a difference. She used her amazing discoveries to help develop therapies for disease.

EINSTEIN took years to formulate his theories of relativity.  Despite learning disabilities he persevered transforming the way we look at the world. This amazing thinker said "It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer".

Developing an attitude of persistence is vital to being an illustrator. I've learned that for every sketch that works, there are reams of ideas on tracing tissue that simply don't. I file them away in drawers and hold on to them just to remind myself to keep drawing. Sometimes an old sketch might spark an idea for a future project but often they sit there turning brown as the years go by. As a young artist I was intensely frustrated when things didn't come out just right. Over time I realized it's important to get over perfectionism and keep going. Procrastination takes over if you focus on your failures.

Now that I have a son I know it is most important to complement him on working really hard. I want to encourage him to choose more challenging tasks and know that in the marathon of life persistence counts. We all need to model persistence and teach kids it's good to make mistakes and fall short. Let them feel those big feelings when they fail, tell them to take breaks but most importantly keep going.When learning not to give up a child may hit the wall but you've got to aim their sights at the door and teach them how to find the opening.

I hope the story and images in Drum Dream Girl will spur children to ask thoughtful questions and keep dreaming till they solve a problem. To never give up and grow the determination needed to achieve their goals and keep practicing.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Monday, September 28, 2015

Howling at the Moon

"There are nights the wolves are silent and only the moon howls"-George Carlin

Perhaps it was because my mother used to sing an Argentinian song Cancion para bañar la luna to me as a child, but I remember staring for hours on end at the moon. As an artist I've succumbed to the moon's magnetic pull on my work. In San Miguel de Allende there is a tradition of giving your house a name and ours is called Manto de Luna-meaning cloak of the moon. Last night was one of those rare celestial events-the total supermoon lunar eclipse, right out of a science fiction novel.  I found a dark corner of Coronado Island and waited for the moon's hue to reach a blood red tint.

Winter Moon, Planter's Moon, Harvest Moon, Dragon Moon, Snow Moon, Wildcat Moon, Mulberry Moon, Moon when all things ripen, Twelfth Moon, Moon when geese return in scattered formation, Singing Moon, Lightning Moon, Flying Fish Moon. These are nicknames to describe the changing moon from Native American, New Guinea, Colonial American, Celtic and Chinese cultures.

Illuminating and inspiring poetry, music, literature, art and ME. Today I wanted to pay tribute to Earth's only natural satellite, LUNA.

Total Supermoon Lunar Eclipse from Coronado Island

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Time Lapse Mural Magic

This time lapse video of a second mural I created for Coasterra condenses a week's work to around 2 minutes. It's visual caffeine so put your seat belt on. Grateful to my hard working, talented assistants Daniel Renner and Brie Witko as well as my friend Gil Gutierrez for his vibrant music.


Sunday, April 12, 2015


This past month I created this poster as part of the Dialogues: Poster Art of the Soviet Union Show at the City Gallery at San Diego City College. Rare historical Soviet posters from the period of Perestroika and Glasnost were featured alongside contemporary posters with political, social or arts themes and a Russian twist. 

My poster was about the potential of the arts to promote peace and social change. To craft a culture of peace you have to first imagine it. Artists around the world and throughout history have given voice to that ideal. A sharp pencil can be a powerful weapon to communicate the pathos of war.  I’m greatly inspired by folk arts, many of which are living traditions. Birds are a common theme in Russian folklore and this region has a particular gift for storytelling. The folkloric pattern inside the bird represents a diverse patchwork of beliefs and opinions. The colors tip their hat to Russian Constructivism. When creating this poster, the recent peace agreement and conflict between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists was on my mind and in the news. The two leaves symbolize differing points of view with the pencil of the artist providing a stable perch for the idea of peace to take hold. 

You can purchase a high quality, 20 by 26 giclee poster for $65 with all funds going to the Doyald Young Reading Room. I am such a believer in books and this design and illustration library at City College is open to students and the community. I'm supporting this effort as this reading room is a great place for aspiring illustrators to find their way.

Dancers in historical costumes performed barefoot in the gallery at the opening. Photo by Edward Honaker

Photo by David Eichinger