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An artist will stop at nothing to put his ideas down, whether they be words or drawings stemming from a sudden burst of inspiration. One has to wonder just how many great stories have begun with the inkling of an idea scribbled on a napkin at a bar or café. For artists, the napkin sketch can itself become the work of art—Picasso comes to mind, with his legendary story of drawing a napkin sketch at an admirer’s request and naming a price that reflected his many years of hard work before achieving fame. It’s not how long a work takes to create, he reasoned—it’s the effort and history behind it.

For an artist, surfaces seldom matter. Since childhood, my dad has drawn on anything he could get his hands on, from paper to books and even walls. My grandmother eventually became so tired of scrubbing his drawings off the living room walls that one day, like a kind of peace offering, she told him he could draw in one little section of the garden wall that she had designated just for him. And so he did.

These days, his surfaces are many and varied. There are, of course, numerous sketchbooks in addition to his oeuvre of paintings, drawings, and sculptures. But some surfaces are less conventional. There are napkin sketches made drinking tea before sunrise, Styrofoam cups decorated with sketches during long flights, and sculptures fashioned from branches of eucalyptus wood found on morning hikes around the studio. There are small sculptures made from broken pieces of bowls and scraps of paper used as prototypes for larger sculptures. My favorite is the most prominent surface of all: his work table in the studio. It is itself a giant, magnificent surface that has witnessed the birth of countless paintings and bears the marks of their creation, roughly textured with random, rhythmic brushstrokes of acrylic, watercolor, and charcoal as colors were blended and explored.

All surfaces, graciously surrendering themselves at moments of inspiration, ready to be embraced.

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