The scene in your painting Camas Para Sueños – Beds for Dreams is identical to one in the movie “Selena” that was written and directed by filmmaker Gregory Nava. Had he seen your painting before making the movie?
“There is a direct connection from the Selena film to my painting Beds for Dreams. Mr. Nava had seen my bilingual picture book Family Pictures / Cuadros de familia that includes Beds for Dreams and was inspired to make the theme of his film be about a young girl who dreamed of becoming a professional singer like the girls in my painting (my sister and I) are dreaming of becoming professional artists. He invited me to come down to L.A. and present a slide lecture for him and his film crew. Since I am from Texas, as was Selena, he felt my stories and artwork was a perfect source for more ideas for scenes in the film.
How did you and your sister get on top of your roof?
“Here is a clue: The leaves and tendrils on the metal posts of the porch crawl up and lead us there.”
Your paintings Sandia / Watermelon and Cakewalk have been the subject of much discussion. These pieces are wonderful jumping off points for discussing different cultures and families. Our school population is a huge ethnic mix, the primary being South East Asian. Looking at Cakewalk it was noted many subjects were wearing hats including the young lady on the crutches. The students were wondering why the hats? And did the lady on crutches lose a leg in some type of conflict? Perhaps the conflict question stems from many of these being the children of war refugees.
“The hats are caps that the members of the American GI Forum (Mexican American World War II veterans, their wives, and other supporters) used during organization functions. The caps are flat, made of wool cloth and are of the same shape as those worn by the USA military like the air force and the army. The American GI Forum was first organized to secure benefits guaranteed by the 1944 G.I. Bill of Rights because Mexican American veterans were being denied medical services by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. By 1959 the organization was advocating for the civil rights of Mexican Americans, including raising scholarship funds for Mexican American students like a cakewalk.
The lady with one leg is Matilde, the owner of the store, and also a member of the American GI Forum. We did not know how she lost her leg and our parents said it was not polite to ask. We hardly noticed because she was fun to talk with, and she always rewarded us with a free candy when we went to her store on errands for our parents.”
What is gouache paint and alkyd paint?
Gouache is watercolor paint that is opaque, similar to tempera paints but of a much fine quality. Alkyd paint is an oil-based paint that has been altered to speed up its drying time. It is mixable with regular oil paints.
When is your next book coming out?
“It takes me several years to paint enough images for one book. The books usually contain 13 to 15 paintings. Each painting takes from 3 to 10 months to complete.”
Will you autograph my copies of your books, photos, or autograph books?
“I will autograph your copy of my books if you send it to my US post office box: PO Box 881683, San Francisco, CA 94188-1683. Send it in a re-usable box or envelope AND include the correct postage and a completed mailing label so I can mail it back to you.
Which books do you recommend reading for more information about you and your artwork?
Carmen Lomas Garza, an A Ver Series book by Texas Tech Professor Constance Cortez (ISBN 9780895511249)
I no longer sell posters or mass-produced offset prints. The digital prints that I have available for sale are in limited editions and are listed in PRINTS AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE on my website.
Will you give copies of your books / posters to our school?
“I wish I had a large inventory of books and posters that I could give away but I do not. If I want copies of my own books, I have to buy them from the publisher and pay for shipping.”
Will you donate an artwork for our fundraising art auction?
“Very frequently I am often asked for donations of my art work by all kinds of organizations, and worthy special causes. I am honored that people want my artwork but I can’t afford to donate to every request since sales of my artwork is my main source of income. In addition, most people do not realize that when an artist donates artwork the full value of the artwork is not deductible from their income taxes, only the cost of the materials is deductible such as canvas, paper, etc. I prefer to donate artwork to the permanent collection of museums and university libraries. This type of donation makes it possible for many people to enjoy the artworks.”
Do you sell fine prints of images other than those listed for sale on your web site?
“I had been creating fine lithograph prints based on my existing paintings as a way to make my artwork available to first time collectors. The process is time consuming and expensive which is why not all my images have been made into lithographs prints. The fine prints listed on this web site are the only available prints to individual collectors.”
We purchased the digital print “Tamalada 2003″ and it arrived in perfect condition. The colors are vivid, the image is sharp and its size commands a presence. Are you making digital prints of your other paintings?
“My digital prints are made from high resolution scans of my original paintings or from 4×5 color transparency photographs to get excellent quality in detail and color. I work very closely with the master printer to get the best color correction to match the painting including when working from a color transparency.”
COMMISSIONS & ILLUSTATIONS
Do you do portraits or other private commissioned artwork?
“I prefer the freedom to paint my own ideas which is why I am not a portrait painter. Occasionally I will accept a commission from a museum or a corporation to paint in acrylics one of my images based on a painting that I have already done in gouache paints. Paintings already done in oil will not be done in gouache.”
Do you do public art commissions?
“I am no longer doing public art commissions because now I am concentrating on painting with acrylic paints on wood.”
Do you illustrate other author’s stories? Will you illustrate my manuscript so I can submit it to a publisher?
“I prefer to spend my time doing artwork for my own books.”
What was the one single thing that made you know at 13 you wanted to be an artist for the rest of your life?
“Attending junior high school for the first time reminded me of my parents’ advice. My parents always encouraged us to think about what we wanted to be when we grew up. It was mandatory that we finish public school and go to college. I enjoyed creating art since I first saw my mother painting when I was about 8 years old. She inspired me to become an artist and my father supported my goal and encouraged me to also study teaching.”
Will you tell us more about yourself? Will you answer my list of questions for a class report?
“Grade school students working on a report should read my children’s books listed on the publications page and other publications listed in the bibliography. Look into the research links for more information.”
PUBLISHING & MARKETING ADVICE
Will you tell me how to publish my story for children?
“Novice writers can find good books on how to publish by looking in the public library and book stores. Ask the librarian for recommendations. Contact publishers and ask them for information on publishing procedures. Also search on the Internet.”
Will you tell me if my idea for a story is good? Will you read my manuscript and give me your opinion
“While I am flattered that you want me to read your manuscript my work schedule does not permit me the time. Ask your friends and relatives to read it and give you opinions then move on to professionals who make it their business to review manuscripts. Keep writing.”
Will you tell me how to sell my artwork?
“There are many good books on marketing art. You can start with How to Survive & Prosper as an Artist: Selling yourself without selling your soul by Caroll Michels. It contains an excellent list of resources.
Do you own the copyright to your artwork and do you permit publishers to reproduce the artwork?
“I own the copyright to the artwork. Please send an initial inquiry by email and I will respond with a list of questions that will help me formulate the licensing letter and determine the fee.”