An interview with Osvaldo Sequeira

Osvaldo Sequeira is a multidisciplinary artist from Costa Rica. He graduated from the University of Costa Rica’s School of Fine Arts with a degree in graphic design. After graduating, his professional path led to a successful career in animation that started with 2-D animation and then 3-D. He is a founding member of Estudio Flex, a Costa Rican animation studio with national and international recognition. The work created by Estudio Flex has received prestigious awards outside of Costa Rica. Through this studio, he has worked for the Costa Rican market and abroad.

Osvaldo is also one of the founding members of Santa Gráfica, an art academy that offers courses that stem from the animation and sequential art industry. Some of the courses offered through Santa Gráfica include character design, digital painting for comics, animal anatomy, painting, bookmaking and basic drawing among others.

In recent years, Osvaldo has solidified his studio practice as a painter and has exhibited his work in Costa Rica and abroad.

I have known Osvaldo for many years. We became friends in college as graphic design students at the University of Consta Rica’s School of Fine Arts and have kept our friendship through the years along with several of our peers.

As an artist and college professor in the Visual Arts (more specifically in Foundation Studies), I believe that different disciplines in the arts feed each other and that the boundaries from one to the other are not as clear cut as some may think. I strongly believe that a strong foundation in drawing, color, design and creative thinking can take and artist or designer through many paths. Osvaldo’s professional accomplishments  are proof of this and I find his career very inspiring. This is why I am very excited about featuring my friend and colleague through this interview.

You can find more information on Osvaldo Sequeira’s work online through the following links:

https://www.facebook.com/osvaldo.sequeira.araya/

https://www.instagram.com/osvaldoartist/

http://www.estudioflex.com/html/entrete.html

http://santagrafica.com/profesores/osvaldo-sequeira-araya/

(A.B.) Hi Osvaldo,

Thank you for agreeing to be a featured artist in my blog. I am so happy that we get to collaborate through this interview, let’s get started:

(A.B.) What motivated you to choose a career in the Visual Arts?

(O.S.) Initially when I was faced with the task of choosing a major at the University of Costa Rica, I was leaning towards communications  but was also interested in the fine arts and considered studying both. As I researched my options, I found that the university offered a graphic design degree which was the perfect blend of both worlds (communication and design). This degree was offered through the School of Fine Arts.

(A.B.) You graduated as a graphic designer but most of your career in the applied arts has been in animation. How did your formation as a graphic designer influence you as an animator?

(O.S.) It was very important because graphic design gave me a strong foundation in design principles, aesthetics and visual narrative.

The images above are animation stills created by Estudio Flex, Osvaldo was in the role of art director.

(A.B.) What has been the role of drawing throughout your career as a designer, animator and painter?

(O.S.) Drawing has been the base for everything. It was the point of departure for me as an artist. I loved drawing since I was a child and it was my love of drawing that led me to a Visual Arts career. Drawing sustains all of my professional endeavors in the Fine Arts and in the Applied Arts.

(A.B.) Which aspects of drawing are common denominators and the most important in your multidisciplinary practice?

(O.S.) Gesture drawing, sketching and structural analysis are important fundamentals for animation, painting and illustration. They are crucial to achieve believable images, develop ideas quickly and streamline production in a timely manner.

A solid understanding of linear perspective and isometric and orthogonal representation are also important to master volumetric representation of objects and space.

Avenida Segunda

“Avenida Segunda” _Acrylic on canvas 70x100cms

(A.B.) Do you believe that drawing from direct observation is important in the formation of visual artists nowadays?

(O.S.) Always, drawing from direct observation is important to train your eye and learn to “see”. Digital tools tend to steer artists away from this practice but you can still work  from direct observation with some of them. Models can be found anywhere and paper and pencil are always available so it’s only a matter of keeping our eyes open.

(A.B.) Do you have any advice on how to develop skills to draw from the imagination?

(O.S.) The most efficient way is to practice a lot of perspective and structural drawing. A very good exercise is to draw an object or model from a specific vantage point (from life or a photo) and analyze through structure and perspective; then draw it from other vantage points from imagination but applying the knowledge gained from the first study.  This is excellent training to eventually create objects from your mind’s eye.

As for your recent paintings…

(A.B) Has animation influenced your paintings?

(O.S.) It has influenced me mainly in the way I approach certain themes and in coming up with technical solutions.

The above paintings are from the “Ser Humano” series, acrylic paint on clear acrylic panel, by Osvaldo Sequeira.

(A.B.) Can you share a bit about your process when creating your paintings? Do you work directly from models? Do you use photo references or work from memory and sketches?

(O.S.) That depends on what I am working on at any given time. I practice a lot of “plein air” painting and drawing mainly to keep my observational drawing and painting skills up, which are crucial. On this same note, I also organize group life drawing sessions with colleagues to keep up with drawing from life.

Above: Photo of Osvaldo Sequeira working on plein air watercolors, top right and bottom Plein air watercolors  from Costa Rican landscapes by Osvaldo Sequeira.

When creating a large body of work for an exhibition the pre-production is more involved. I tend to work with models as I explore ideas and poses. Once I have a concrete vision, I work on quick gestural sketches to refine concepts. Then I take photos based on those ideas and work from the photos at my pace in the studio. I often manipulate the photos digitally through programs such as Photoshop and this allows me to edit things out and play with elements to explore compositions further.

(A.B.) What role does drawing have in the creation of you paintings?

(O.S) My work is 100 % representational, so it is important to have a command of perspective and solid structure of forms. I am knowledgeable in both areas because of a strong base in drawing. Therefor, I would say that my work relies strongly on a solid understanding of drawing.

(A.B.) Who are some artists that influence your work?

(O.S.) Paul Gauguin, Claude Monet, Joaquín Sorolla, Gustave Caillebotte, Luis Caballero Holguin, Andrew Salgado to name a few.

I am very inspired by impressionism because of their formal approach to painting. I want evident and strong mark-making in my work so that it clearly looks like a painting and not a photograph.

(A.B.) As an artist, designer and animator do you use sketchbooks?

(O.S.) Yes of course, working through ideas in the sketchbook saves a lot of work on the canvas, drawing table or on the computer.

I use them to make graphic notes, analyze concepts and explore volume, work through compositions, many many uses. More importantly they are a great tool for idea development.

(A.B) In addition to being a multidisciplinary artist you are an instructor at Santa Gráfica, an art academy of which you are a founding member. What impact has your professional experience had on your teaching?

(O.S.) I like it when I see students demonstrating an understanding of the concepts I teach them. My extensive experience as an artist and animator of (close to 30 years) allows me to communicate concepts clearly and to explain their importance. Throughout the years I have developed instructional methods that have helped me improve my instruction.

(A.B.) What advice do you have for beginning artists when it comes to developing and improving drawing skills?

(O.S.) Practice, practice, practice and don’t be afraid of the blank page. When I say practice, I don’t mean to create a finished detailed piece every time you draw, that never.

For example when a swimmer trains he or she doesn’t compete every day. There might be days for strength training at the gym, or technical exercises, other days to develop personal goals and some to train in a mock competition. Drawing is very much the same, one day you practice perspective, another day volumetric mark-making, other days for direct observation drawing or exploration of media. Along with quicker practices work on more developed drawings through numerous long drawing sessions.

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Osvaldo Sequeira at work

(A.B.) Thank you Osvaldo for such an inspiring interview.

See interview in spanish below

Una entrevista con el artista Osvaldo Sequeira

Introducción

Osvaldo Sequeira es un artista multidisciplinario de Costa Rica graduado en Diseño Gráfico de la Universidad de Costa Rica. Desde los inicios de su carrera profesional, Osvaldo trabajó en animación (2-D y luego 3-D). Es miembro fundador de Estudio Flex, estudio de animación de mucho reconocimiento en Costa Rica y ganador de varios premios nacionales e internacionales.

Sequeira también es miembro fundador de la academia Santa Gráfica que imparte cursos para niños, adolecentes y adultos.  Muchos de los cursos impartidos por dicha academia llenan un nicho en la industria de las Artes Visuales in Costa Rica. Cursos como diseño de personajes, pintura digital para comics, anatomía animal, etc.

En años recientes, Osvaldo también se ha dedicado a la pintura y ha expuesto su obra individualmente al igual que en exposiciones colectivas dentro y fuera de Costa Rica.

Conocí a Osvaldo en la Universidad de Costa Rica cuando ambos estudiábamos Diseño Gráfico y hemos mantenido una linda amistad a través de los años.

Como artista y educadora en el área de las Artes Visuales, opino que las diferentes disciplinas de las artes visuales se retroalimentan y se relacionan mucho más de lo que muchos creen. La carrera de Osvaldo Sequeira es muy rica e inspiradora en ese sentido. Es por eso que con mucho entusiasmo preparé esta entrevista.

Para más información acerca de Osvaldo Sequeira visite las páginas incluidas aquí;

https://www.facebook.com/osvaldo.sequeira.araya/

https://www.instagram.com/osvaldoartist/

http://santagrafica.com/profesores/osvaldo-sequeira-araya/

http://www.estudioflex.com/html/entrete.html

Empecemos:

(A.B.) Hola Osvaldo, me alegra que podamos colaborar a través de esta entrevista. Este blog se centra en el dibujo y su importancia en las artes visuales así es que el enfoque de la entrevista será más que nada acerca del rol del dibujo a lo largo de su carrera.

(A.B) ¿Cuál fue su motivación principal para elegir una carrera en artes visuales?

(O.S) Inicialmente cuando uno tiene que seleccionar una carrera profesional para entrar a la universidad estaba considerando ciencias de la comunicación, pero quería llevar paralelamente alguna disciplina de las artes plásticas, fue en esa búsqueda que dí con la carrera de diseño gráfico que es una combinación de ambos mundos: la comunicación y el diseño. Esto sumado a que la carrera de diseño gráfico es impartida en la Escuela de Artes Plásticas de la Universidad de Costa Rica.

(A.B.) Se graduó como diseñador gráfico pero la mayor parte de su carrera en cuanto a las artes aplicadas ha sido en animación. ¿Como influyó su formación como diseñador gráfico en su carrera como animador?

(O.S.) Fue determinante, ya que me dio un profundo conocimiento de diseño, lo cual fue crucial para desarrollar una estética y narrativa visual.

Estas imágenes muestran escenas de animaciones creadas por Estudio Flex con Osvaldo Sequeira como director de arte.

(A.B.) ¿Qué rol ha tenido el dibujo a lo largo de su carrera como diseñador, animador y pintor?

(O.S.) El dibujo ha sido la base de todo, fue el punto de partida y es la estructura que sostiene todo mi quehacer. Por el hecho de que siempre me gustó dibujar de niño, fue que me incliné por las artes visuales, tanto en las artes puras (pintura o dibujo) así como en las aplicadas (animación)

(A.B.) ¿Cuáles aspectos de dibujo resultan siendo común denominadores importantes en su práctica multidisciplinaria? (Por ejemplo, dibujo gestual, estructural, conocimiento de perspectiva, bocetos, experimentación, investigación, etc.)

(O.S.) Definitivamente el dibujo gestual, bocetos y análisis estructurales son la base común entre la animación, pintura e ilustración. Sin ellos no es posible realizar una imagen creíble. Además estas bases ayudan con el acelere de los tiempos de producción y la maduración de ideas en el proceso de creación.

Ya que lo mencionas, el conocimiento de la perspectiva también es fundamental. En cualquier tipo o género de dibujo, la perspectiva desde todas sus variantes resumidas (la representación cónica e isométrica además de la proyección ortogonal)  es fundamental para el dominio de la representación volumétrica de las cosas.

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“Avenida Segunda”, acrílico sobre tela, Osvaldo Sequeira

(A.B.) ¿Opina que el dibujo de observación directa es importante en la formación de artistas visuales hoy en día?

(O.S.) Siempre; el dibujo de observación directa es necesario para educar el ojo, para aprender a “observar”. Los dispositivos electrónicos vienen a alejar un poco de esta práctica, pero con estos mismos se pueden hacer excelentes ejercicios del dibujo de observación directa. El lápiz y papel están disponibles siempre y modelos tenemos en cualquier lugar, es solo cuestión de abrir los ojos.

(A.B.) ¿Tiene algún consejo para desarrollar la habilidad para dibujar de la imaginación?

(O.S.) Practicar mucha perspectiva y estructura es la forma más eficaz. Un ejercicio muy bueno es tomar un modelo real (foto o en vivo) y dibujarlo desde un punto de vista específico, analizarlo desde su perspectiva y estructura, luego, dibujarlo desde otras posiciones “inventadas” pero con el conocimiento e información que generó el primer ejercicio. Este es un excelente entrenamiento para luego crear objetos de la nada.

Con respecto a su reciente obra pictórica

(A.B.) ¿Hay influencias de animación en sus pinturas?

(O.S.) La animación me ha influenciado en cuando al abordaje de los temas y algunas soluciones técnicas.

Estas pinturas son de la serie “Ser Humano” por Osvaldo Sequeira, pintura acrílica sobre láminas de acrílico transparente

(A.B.) ¿Puede compartir un poco del proceso para crear sus pinturas? Por ejemplo, trabaja directamente de modelos, usa referencias fotográficas, ¿trabaja de memoria o basado en bocetos?

(O.S.) Pues eso depende de lo que este trabajando en su momento. Suelo hacer mucho “plein air”, lo hago mas que todo como práctica, para mantenerme en forma en cuando al trabajo de observación directa, lo cual es  fundamental. También suelo hacer sesiones colectivas con colegas con modelo en vivo, misma idea del plei air, mantener vigente la práctica de la observación directa.

Cuando creo colecciones de estudio, estas llevan un poco más de pre-producción, suelo trabajar con modelos, explorando poses, ideas, etc. Una vez tengo la idea concreta, después de algunos bocetos y gestuales, tomo estos trabajos y hago fotografías para quedarme trabajando con ellas, según mi ritmo de producción. Suelo hacer intervenciones de las fotografías con recurso tecnológicos como el Photoshop para editar algunas cosas, jugar con los elementos y explorar composiciones.

Foto de Osvaldo Sequeira trabajando en plein air y acuarelas sobre papel de paisajes constarricenses por Osvaldo Sequeira.

(A.B.) ¿Qué rol tiene el dibujo en la creación de sus obras?

(O.S.) Mi trabajo es 100% figurativo, por lo tanto el dominio de la perspectiva y el análisis de las formas mediante la estructura son dos aspectos que el conocimiento del dibujo proporciona para una correcta representación gráfica. Así diría que, mi trabajo pictórico descansa sobre una fuerte base de dibujo.

(A.B.) ¿Cuáles son algunos de los artistas más influyentes en su carrera?

(O.S.) Paul Gauguin, Calude Monet, Joaquin Sorolla, Gustavo Caillebotte, Luis Caballero Holguin, Andrew Salgado, entre muchos otros

Definitivamente me nutro del impresionismo por su tratamiento formal de la materia pictórica, me interesa que mi trabajo sea considerado como una pintura y no como una fotografía, por eso busco que el tratamiento del color y el trazo son elementos que le digan al espectador que están ante una pieza pictórica.

(A.B.) ¿Como artista, diseñador y animador utiliza usted cuadernos de bocetos?

(O.S.) Sí claro, definitivamente,  porque sobre todo, ahorran mucho trabajo en el lienzo, en la mesa de trabajo on en algún software específico.

Los uso para hacer notas gráficas, analizar conceptos volumétricos, resolver composciones… en fin… para multiples usos. Y como dije anteriormente, lo más importante es que ayudan a madurar las ideas.

(A.B.) Además de artista multidisciplinario, es educador en la academia de arte Santa Gráfica del cual es miembro fundador. ¿Que impacto ha tenido su amplia y diversa experiencia en su estilo o filosofía como instructor?

(O.S.) Cada vez que veo que los chicos están tomando conceptos y los apropian como suyos, veo que todo el bagaje que he tenido por casi 30 años en el quehacer en la imagen visual, me ha ayudado a que ellos tengan confianza de lo que les trato de comunicar y me ha dado herramientas para hacerlos entender de algo en particular y su importancia. Además de que con tanto tiempo de enseñanza he desarrollando procesos y metodología propios que me ayudan a mejorar el proceso formativo.

(A.B.) ¿Cuál es su principal consejo para personas que están en los inicios de su carrera artística con respecto a como desarrollar habilidades para el dibujo?

(O.S.) Practicar mucho y perderle el miedo al papel en blanco. Cuando digo practicar no me refiero a tener que hacer un dibujo final cada vez, sombreado y con todos los detalles, no, eso jamas! Pongo un ejemplo, cuando un nadador entrena, él o ella no compite todas las mañanas con sus compañeros de equipo. Un día tendrán entrenamiento de fuerza en el gimnasio, en otro momento tendrán trabajo técnico, otro día trabajaran sobre sus metas específicas y en algún momento tendrán una competencia de entrenamiento. Así es el dibujo, practicar un día perspectiva, otro día volumen con líneas envolventes, otro día un dibujo al carboncillo por observación directa. Y algún otro día proponerse un dibujo final en una sesión larga de trabajo. No todo se puede abarcar en una sentada de estudio, es por partes y sesiones diferentes para poder enfocarse.

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Osvaldo Sequeira trabajando

(A.B.) Muchas gracias Osvaldo por la inspiradora entrevista.

Beached

 

 

I have been working on this drawing for a long time and it has undergone many iterations. I see it as a learning piece. For one, I learned that you can really add layers to a pastel drawing and make a lot of changes. As an artist I really don’t mind building marks and rough surfaces, I actually respond to that and it is one of the things I seek, so the layers were interesting to work with.

This piece is close to my heart because it is Nicolas (my first born) when he was about four . A lot of the drawing was developed through memory since the only reference I had was an old flat photograph that was basically the silhouette of the figure.

I added the driftwood to break up the negative space and give it the sense of place. There are a couple of beaches we frequent in Georgia and South Carolina with lots of driftwood trees along the sand. I find this landscape mysterious and dramatic.

The addition of the beached sharks signify and encounter of an innocent child with the unknown. On thing this piece really made me realize is that I am feeling an urge to start painting again. Working with the  layering and color interaction really connected me with that process again.

In regards to the medium, pastel has always been one of my favorites. It can be manipulated more like a drawing or a painting and it demands the thought process from both.

 

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Unbound, beyond the sketchbook practice

There is a stack of sketchbooks in my studio filled with sketches done over the years during my boys’ karate classes. These quick sketches are exercises in composition, gesture and analysis of movement, they are also the point of departure for the Karate series.

Today I am sharing a mixed media drawing and the sketchbook pages that inspired it.

karate side kick sketchbook

sketchbook gesture drawing

revisited-sketch

Sketchbook gesture revisited

The top line drawing was the quick gesture drawing done on site at the dojo, its generalized character  is the result of rapid note taking. The next image shows the same drawing embellished with mixed media marks and color. This later version was the inspiration for a piece titled  “Warm up”. Due to the minimalistic nature of the initial gestures, I relied heavily on memory, imagination and a little bit on direct observation while developing this drawing. The subject matter and the mixture of materials which include water-soluble  graphite, acrylic wash, charcoal, sanguine and chalk pastels were conducive to energetic mark-making. My focus here was on gesture, rhythm and surface development. To capture the gesture, I  paid close attention to the tilts of the three moveable masses of the figure (skull, ribcage and pelvis).

burgos_adriana_%22warm-up%22_acrylic-wash-graphitecharcoal-and-pastel-on-paper_21%22-x-29%22

Adriana Burgos “Warm up”, mixed media, 21″ x 29″

I am pleased with the resulting sense of movement and the surface quality that emerged from the layers of material and look forward to future media explorations as the series grows.

A memory in brown and black

This end of the year I had the opportunity to get away with my family for a week. We stayed by a lake in the woods around Stone Mountain. It was a great way to bring in the new year, we did some hiking, sat around bon fires, watched the kids play out all day in spite of the cold and spent time with family and friends. I got to work on a small silverpoint drawing which I will share in a future post because it could use some refining.

I am however sharing a journal drawing from our trip to Stone Mountain three years ago. It’s always great to find time to draw on our nature getaways. This two page spread is a landscape study in warm and cool temperatures to show depth. It is part of a written journal in which I record our family’s experiences when we go camping. Keeping journals and sketchbooks is a great way to record life experiences, I hope my children will look through these journals in the future and find many of the memories we have created together.

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Adriana Burgos, Study of woods in black and sienna, 2014

In this particular sketch, I used sanguine, graphite and charcoal. Using the red and black is always an interesting challenge, because although the drawing is still a value drawing, the temperature shifts from black to red brown offer an added quality that allows me to manipulate depth through value contrast and temperature.

I look forward to sharing new memories through sketchbook drawings this new year.

 

Idea development sketches for “Fort”

I have come to love the mysterious quality of the landscape around the area I live. This summer I started working on the South Land series, a body of work inspired by places I visit periodically in the Georgia and South Carolina low country. The natural resources here include marshes, beaches, swamps and woods. In this series, I am combining images from sketchbook drawings, and my photographs into narrative compositions.  Always an avid reader, I find inspiration in literature and I believe the juxtaposition of figure and landscape creates a sense of story worth exploring.

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Adriana Burgos, thumbnail sketches for “Fort”, graphite on paper

Today I am sharing some thumbnail sketches and a preliminary sketch  for “Fort”. The thumbnails are about 3″ wide and were done with graphite in my sketchbook. The larger comp is roughly 15″ x 11″ done with sanguine pencil. Although the small graphite drawings were meant to be different ideas for a single piece, I intend to develop several finished drawings based on these. My main objectives here were to experiment with shapes in relation to the picture plane, placement of the elements, movement and depth. I was having fun with the effect of directional lines across the space. The orientation of the branches and tree trunks create a choreography of linear structure that I find striking.

study-for-fort

Adriana Burgos 2016, “study for Fort”, sanguine on cream stonehenge paper,

The final pieces based on these studies will be large charcoal drawings. This is the ideal medium  to continue my experimentations with value to create a sense of atmosphere. I hope to be posting progress soon!

Recent charcoal drawings

 

The last couple of months have certainly been busy, getting ready for the academic year and for a recent group exhibition I was part of in Savannah Ga. The name of the exhibition was “Nature Nurtured” and it featured the work of eight artists, all members of the Foundation Studies Department at SCAD.

I exhibited the charcoal drawings shown below as well as three silverpoint pieces. These images express my responses to some of the places I have visited regularly over the years combined with my interest in narrative drawing. I consider them  the beginning of a series I plan to call “Southland”.

I look forward to sharing  process shots for these as well as some installation and gallery shots in the coming weeks.

 

 

Mixed media karate sketch

The sketchbook is a great platform for media exploration. I was experimenting with ink wash this week, playing with warm and cool temperatures. This drawing was based on one of my quick karate sketches while observing my kids’ classes.

I love the immediacy and happy accidents that happen when drawing gesturally with ink. A lot of the warm against cool relationships of the drawing are mainly in the negative space surrounding the figure. For the background I applied brown, black and blue ink and let all the colors run into each other with wet into wet marks. After the wash drawing dried, I emphasized a few areas  with white and blue chalk and black charcoal.

The end result is exciting and has inspired me to explore gestural drawings with ink wash more. Studies from the karate sketchbooks will be a great point of departure for more work like this.

with bow pole study

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Adriana Burgos, Mixed media sketchbook study, 2016

Trees at Magnolia Springs

This past weekend  I was away on a camping trip with my husband and two boys. We took advantage of the long weekend in observance of the Martin Luther King holiday, and took off to one of our favorite Georgia state parks nearby, Magnolia Springs.

The weather was cold and windy, perfect for sitting by the fire. I did this little study on the camping journal.

At the beginning, I set out to do a pen drawing with my favorite sepia copic pen, but then I changed my mind and switched to graphite. I realized early on, that I was really in the mood for a drawing emphasizing big blocks of value.  I created some of the value shapes with the side of the pencil and then layered with finer marks, an approach I wouldn’t have used with a fine pen.

I liked the end result and had a great time slowing down to take in the beautiful natural setting.

Trees at Magnolia Springs

Adriana Burgos, Study of trees at Magnolia Springs, sepia pen and graphite on sketchbook paper 2016

Reflections on life and on being an artist

three generations detail

Adriana Burgos, “Three Generations” detail, Charcoal and pastel on paper 2008

With the transition of 2015 into 2016, I have been reflecting about a lot of things,  especially remembering my father who passed away last February. My dad lived a great life, he was very accomplished professionally and personally, he earned his PHD and became a father before he was 30, he went on to have four kids and a great career and throughout his life he was always generous and very humble. He experienced true love with my mother, I can honestly say, their marriage was truly exemplary. Thinking about his life has led me to reflect on how to live a full life myself. This is why my main goal for 2016  is to learn to integrate all aspects of my life in a balanced manner.

Like everyone else, I wear many different hats, I am a mother, daughter, wife, artist, professor and someone who loves to be active and enjoy nature. Being one thing should not rule out another, but after all these years I am still learning to juggle it all.

Professionally, I am a college professor and artist. Time for research and studio is as important as all the other professional demands. Over the years, I have come to realize that productive time in the art studio does not have to be a long painting session like the ones during graduate school. Although uninterrupted studio time is ideal sometimes it’s not possible. Under those circumstances it is better to work shorter times than do nothing at all, even if it means an hour here and an hour there.

When I first graduated from my MFA, 17 years ago; I balanced a full-time job and studio practice, by scheduling long studio sessions in the weekends. This was a change from being in the studio day and night but I adapted.  Two years later, I became a professor and I am still teaching full-time. I love teaching, it has deepened my understanding of visual arts and creative thinking; more specifically my understanding of drawing. I find that teaching forces me to evolve continually and allows me to be a constant learner.  My work in the classroom has influenced my art work, for example I have reconnected with direct observation drawing and though it’s not the only way I work, it has affected my work in a positive way.

During the academic year, I tend to work on small pieces and focus on larger ones in the summer.  As long as I’m regularly drawing, even if it’s only in my sketchbook  I am still growing as an artist. This is one of the reasons why keeping a sketchbook is so important for me, and why I started the Sunday sketchbook feature in my blog.

At  a personal level, my roles as mother and wife are central and I also try to find time to nurture personal interests such as reading, exercising and being in contact with nature. My reality as a mother is changing now that the boys are 9 and 12. I can do many of the  things I love with them, such as taking long walks or bike rides, enjoying a movie together and finding time to work in my studio. Things were not like this in their early years, I remember feeling like studio time was simply impossible and it would frustrate me. Now looking back, I wish I had not been so hard on myself for not being able to do much art work then. In the end, the joy and intensity of motherhood has only made me a better artist.

Many artists often have to change the way they work while they have small children. In my case,  I began working small,  which was a contrast to my preference for large format. Because of my focus on a new format, I began exploring silverpoint as a medium and did observational drawings of Nicolas (my firstborn) as he slept.  At the time, I was concerned about the drawings of my baby coming across as sentimental, now I understand I was responding to the wonderful experience of becoming a mother.

My work has become much more personal over the years. At my age, I have seen people’s stories unfold and I am more responsive to life. I realize now, that the drawings of family members at different ages, including the ones of my children and the ones of my father’s struggle with Steele Richardson’s disease are all part of one grand narrative. My every day life experiences provide powerful content for expression.  I have come to the realization that instead of compartmentalizing each aspect of my life, the key is in the integration.

Three generations

Adriana Burgos, “Three Generations”, Charcoal and pastel on paper 2008 Enter a caption

Happy Holidays

"Remote control car" Sketchbook study, Adriana Burgos, 2015, mixed media, 5.5 x 8.5 inches

“Remote control car” Sketchbook study, Adriana Burgos, 2015, mixed media, 5.5 x 8.5 inches

Wishing everybody a great end of the year and a new year full of great things. Here is a little sketch from Christmas Day. We had a wonderful holiday with family and friends.

This is a little sketch of my son Felipe playing with a remote control car. I felt like working with mixed media and used water soluble graphite, watercolor, pastel and charcoal on a watercolor sketchbook. It was fun to use both wet and dry media and minimal color.