I find it interesting when those who have suffered hate and intolerance, fight against it and as soon as they are shown a bit of respect and tolerance, they turn around and become so intolerant and hateful of others almost instantly. Because the logic has become that hate plus hate is gonna somehow equal peace and love if you dump enough of it on someone. Insults, name calling, bashing and generalizing people are so commonplace now. People categorize each other into groups based on anything that differs from them. For example, "If you think THIS, then you must be THAT or be with THOSE people." We do it to help us make better sense of the world around us when we are uninformed of something new and different and feel somehow threatened. It's like the initial response has become so repellent and abrasive that humanity itself is discarded with words.
Civil dialogue is now becoming a thing of the past and even past and present members of our country's leadership and law makers call for incivility and violence instead of dialogue, peace and resolution. The television now has news personalities bashing, bullying and even using and laughing at racial slurs and insults at individuals for being just that, individual. Division and hate has become this accepted reality created by those who constantly speak it into existence. There's a real fear that comes from the ego that makes us fight like hell against compromise or change. But showing respect, humility and frankly the tolerance that we feel we deserve does not mean we are giving away a piece of our soul we will never get back. We can still remain intact and safe while actually listening and sharing ideas with one another.
I have co-workers and friends that have completely different views than me on some big time things like religion and politics, but it in no way puts a damper or strain on work or friendship. Because we have found that there is still this basic everyday human stuff that connects us all. Being able to laugh with people and enjoy very respectful and professional commonalities despite our differences cuts right through the division and hate and right to the heart of who we are. Just people. Although we have opposite beliefs on some topics, we accept the differences and get past them. If anything, I am grateful to know that not everyone needs to war with people because of right, left, blue, red, east or west every time they interact with others whether online or in person. Sometimes, we can just come together. I have a tremendous amount of love and respect for these people and although I may say or believe somethings they may not, they have always treated me with dignity and respect as well. In fact, some have opened my eyes and made me rethink things and look inward, which is my own personal testimony that with some respect and a bit of love and mature dialogue, beautiful things can be achieved.
Anyone that knows me well, knows what a huge music freak I am. It has always been such a huge part of my life and I'm sure most everyone can say the same. Music has always been the one thing that could bring people together and break down all of the differences and barriers that divide. Now, with social media being so intertwined with society, we are able to follow some of the musicians and singers that we have grown up with online. Now, I know that EVERYONE has the right to free speech and that includes the musicians and artists we follow. However, I have noticed that many of them now voice opinions of intolerance and hate for groups of people because of their views, opinions or beliefs. They echo the voices of a once unbiased media that now joins in the belittling, the shaming and hate speech. Where their voices and music once united masses of people with common human emotion and humanity, now those same voices divide and separate people. Some musicians even go as far as stating, "Choose a side, if you're on THAT side, F@#$ YOU!" Maybe for the people that enjoy grade school bashing, shaming and name calling, it's a fun time, but I ask only that you think of this: When you then turn around and try to share some post online or state some concern and sadness the next time a story about a child who committed suicide because they were bullied in school, take a look at the messages that you've been sending into the world and to the kids that want some encouragement about the world they are about to inherit. They see prominent celebrities, musicians, news personalities and politicians spewing hate speech, racial slurs, shaming, bashing and doing all the things they try to escape in school. And when you do it, you only regurgitate the divisive, mind control propaganda that the "the media machine and it's favorite celebrities" has programmed you to believe. You give no hope to the future our youth are about to face, when the example you set is intolerance and completely closed off to those that believe differently. In my opinion it could only contribute to the hopelessness a suicidal person may feel and help them choose to end their life believing that when they get older, they may face more of the same thing.
Hate against another human because of religious or political belief, race, sex or however they choose to identify themselves in this world only leads to one place... more hate. That, to me, makes for a cold, uninspiring world devoid of love and beauty. New ideas and new concepts inspire creativity. I don't believe that people are unchangeable or simply not redeemable either. Everyday is a new canvas. We grow, we live and we learn. I pray we all develop the tolerance to allow each other to do the same. Myself included. I need to become a more merciful individual. But I won't let anyone make me choose some side or stance just to be judged for it. I choose to opt out of being grouped or categorized for someone else's sanity. I choose to be an individual and a free thinker; free to make my own decisions, have my own beliefs and be able to change and interchange them as I wish. Thanks for reading. Rant over. God bless you. Yes, you too. <3
The joy of adding ink to graphite drawings.
Whenever I wanted to get darker than my 8B graphite pencil would take me, I would usually go to something even softer like charcoal or black pastel. The problem was that it would smudge and never really allow me to sharpen it to a fine point. Then I discovered that I could get a ball point pen to do everything I was trying to do with broken pieces of pastel and sanded down charcoal. My pen of choice is a medium point black Bic. There is a degree of flexibility I can get from it depending on the amount of pressure applied or how many times I go over a line. With a bit of white pastel added in, I am able to go as light as I want and as dark as I want, really fine tuning those details. It's a blast having that much control to dramatically add life to a piece. Hope you give one a try and see how it works for you.
Not till I’ve had my coffee. Now we’ve all heard this one right? Or at least some variation. And if this holds true for you, don’t worry. I’m not judging. In fact, just between us, a great cup of java in the is how I get going each morning too. But what are we really saying? What does the coffee or tea or whatever we “need” to get going do for us? I believe it’s a chance to come back to reality. A moment to wake up, clear your thoughts and get ready for your day. An opportunity to get acclimated to the day and dealing with people. But I must say, that although I am very fond of my morning coffee. It still just isn’t enough. I needed something that would get me ready mentally, spiritually and emotionally each day.
I hate mornings! I know that many of us are not morning people at all. But when you get up to start your day, you should think about what you feed your mind with. Sometimes we wake with a fear or anxiety for the day, which is all the reason it is so important to take some time out and feed your mind with something positive. Logically, just as you would feed your body something good to get you going, you would likewise want to provide your mind some positive reinforcement to keep you lifted during the day.
Take control of your thoughts for a few moments, and direct them where you want them to be. I take a few moments and pull up a motivational video on YouTube and allow it to play as I take some deep breaths. I like to move my fingers and hands as I do this and I take notice of the movements. I remind myself that much like I am controlling my breathing and my fingers, I have control of my thoughts and emotions at all times. I can direct them where I want all day long. I take a few moments to think of all I am grateful for and let each thing make me smile. After, I try to read a blog or quote or a bible scripture. Something encouraging where I can look at the words and let them soak in for a bit. Finally, I like to finish by searching a real upbeat and uplifting song to pump me up. Something that makes me want to move and while it plays, I stand and stretch as high as I can, then as low as I can. For the remainder of the song, I practice what I call, “victory” movements.
Thank you so very much for taking the time to read this. I sincerely hope it helps you. I frequently post positive quotes, silly one liners, motivational tips and music on my social media pages, so please follow me and let me help you stay up, stay positive and stay focused. Remember you have the ability to control your destiny and design your day.
When I was in my late teens, early twenties, I had gone through a stage of falling away from art. I was learning about who I was as a person and would often question whether I had any business pursuing art seriously. The internet was still fairly new, so I would often visit the library and magazine stores for inspiration, and on one occasion I had come across a Wizard comic book guide that featured female characters and some sketches breaking down the figure so I bought it. It hooked me on comic book characters and animation. I was fascinated by the detail that went into comics like "Dawn" by Joseph Linsner and the beauty and sweet innocence of characters like Disney's Belle and Ariel. It had always been this goal of mine to one day create a comic character that I could develop, customize, and present it in a variety of settings and situations that would make sense and inspire. As time went on, the idea kind of got lost in the mental files of all the things I wanted to create. The thought came back to me a few months ago as I searched the internet for inspirational quotes to include on my social media pages. I love discovering new quotes and sayings that inspire, motivate and clarify and sharing them and it was then that I thought of creating my own little inspirational comic. I needed a character that I thought could say inspiration in her name. I happen to have a friend named Faith who had graciously allowed me to do a series of portraits of her and I thought it would be perfect to use her name. I mean, faith and inspiration kind of go together and since I already had practice drawing the same person, I went with it. Thankfully, Faith, the actual person, loved the first Faith comic idea and Faith In Action was born. Below are the first few. As I did them, I found myself always wanting to improve on the last one, which made them progressively take longer to do. I started doing one a week, but the last one showed me her potential if I took my time with her. I hope to make Faith In Action a bi-weekly comic that comes out every other Saturday. The most recent, Faith in Bruce Lee's yellow jumpsuit, had me using a lot more Photoshop to color and finish the piece, but it finally made me feel like I had reached that goal. I finally created my own character I get to customize and put in different scenarios with some of my favorite quotes and sayings. I can only hope that it all makes sense and that Faith In Action inspires you as she does me. I hope to bring her back soon.
I remember some of the very first impressions art made on me in my life very fondly. It was a connection with the artists in my life that I had admired that inspired me to give it a try; to see if I too could find some happiness in exploring my own creativity. I wanted to see if I could maybe even earn a living with that creativity like my Uncle was doing. I'll never forget some of the first "art advice" he had given me. He told me that no matter what, I should create what made me happy and to do it how I enjoyed creating it. Sounded great to me, so I went with it. My Uncle passed away soon after. I was 14. It wasn't until I got much older that I began taking a big interest in art again. I remembered his advice, and rekindled my love affair with art by going to shows and galleries to get some inspiration. Since I found myself falling in love with so much of it, I let my Uncles advice again act as my guide and I started studying artists like Frank Frazetta, Patrick Nagel, Jean Michel Basquiat, Jim Lee, Frida Khalo and many others on different sides of the art world. I couldn't decide who I was. I wanted to do it all. I wanted to break free from limitations. But the other artists and gallery curators I had spoken with advised me to find my identity as an artist and stick to it. They suggested that unless I had a style that art enthusiasts and curators could identify me by, they would not be interested in my work. Now this totally went against what my Uncle had told me. I just didn't know if I wanted to be confined to painting or drawing the same way for the rest of my life. I mean, I may as well go get a job on an art assembly line. My love for art came from tasting all that it had to offer. I explored that love by trying to understand it. I wanted to explore it's beauty by touching it with my own hands and the only way to do that was to create a little bit of it all on my own. I couldn't imagine eating the exact same dish for the rest of my life knowing the wide variety of food out there. So perhaps there is this unwritten rule that says an artist must stick with an identity, style or genre to maintain some artistic status quo so that you can become more marketable and easy to package. With all due respect to all of the incredibly talented and successful artists out there who follow those rules, I simply cannot. I do not know what style, genre, medium or subject matter I will create tomorrow. And I like it that way.
On April 22, 2016, I was shocked as was many across the globe of the passing of Prince Rogers Nelson. I was always inspired by him and his artistry, and had wanted to do a portrait or painting of him for a long time. When I heard of his passing, I was deeply moved to pay tribute to someone who had played such a huge part of my life. I wanted it to be colorful, loaded with purple and passion just like Prince. I captured a bit of the process with a couple of short videos because I wanted to find a way to include people in on what I was seeing and feeling with it, uncut and unedited. Here, also are a few up close and personal photos of the painting.
It started with a sketch. I usually size up my canvas on a document equal to the dimensions of my piece on Photoshop. This way I can see how much of the subject I can include on the canvas. I then make little sketches and scribbles indicating where my main points will be positioned ( scribble where the top of the head, shoulder points and guitar tip will be etc.) Then little by little, I begin filling it in shaping and re-shaping as I go. I like to use a mechanical HB led pencil on canvas because it shows nicely but erases when needed. It gives me a chance to sketch out lightly on a small scale until shapes develop. The paint begins to fall in the same way. I work pretty scattered, so if you can see in the video, I go all over the place and build it all out together as opposed to like do the eyes first, then nose and.. well, you get it. The rest is about bringing it all into focus and giving it some color, life and emotion. Prince was a very beautiful and amazingly talented individual. He was vibrantly colorful and full of life and emotion. Hopefully I captured some of that here. - Gus
Pin up art has always intrigued me. The beautifully designed hair of the 40's & 50's, the fashion and the makeup have always been an inspiration to me. As a result, I did some figurative work of my own which included a few portraits of Marilyn Monroe and some nudes but nothing really made get those butterflies. That sweet feeling inside when your inspiration has been sparked and you want to ride the wave a bit. I had a job working in a hospital for a bit and that changed everything. I started seeing nurses and patients wearing masks for isolation rooms and such and that imagery grabbed my attention. I began searching for images to feed that new found interest and as a result, created several pieces of art to express that. Here are the results of that brief love affair.
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Hi! I'm Gus. I'm a multimedia artist and a die-hard optimist driven by the belief that anything is possible. I am grateful for every opportunity that I can learn and grow from as an artist and a person. I hope that I can reflect that gratitude in my work and how I share what I know with others.