the truth is basically simple ...
Pablo Picasso once said, "All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up."
I've certainly found this to be true.
From an early age, my creativity has been encouraged and I've resisted efforts by the few who have tried to negate it.
My mom wrote in my baby book "good with his hands" when, at the age of 2 or 3, I repaired one of those wind-up chattering teeth gags a friend of my parents had brought to a party and it stopped working.
As a child I was always inventing, building and fixing things and always encouraged - well except for the time I took my dad's watch apart and the time I cut the neck off a violin I had restored and attached a guitar neck to get a Hofner, Beatles-style instrument - Dad was none too happy about either of these accomplishments.
I went to a Catholic grammar school, and, when the nuns discovered I had some talent, they employed me to do the bulletin boards that surrounded the classroom - first in my own room, and then farmed out to other teachers in other rooms. During most of 6th, 7th and 8th grades, I was never in my seat but doing bulletin boards around the school and picking up my lessons by listening while I worked.
I was fortunate to attend Lick-Wilmerding High School in San Francisco. This very small, all boys, college prep school demanded art, drafting and shop classes in addition to a rigorous academic load. My first real mentor was my Art teacher there, Rolf Penn. He taught me a great deal - not the least of which is to always be working on the entire composition, not just a part of it. He'd say he should be able to walk up behind me, pull the pencil from my hand at any moment, and have the work be a complete composition just as it was. Most of all, he encouraged me.
He was very disappointed that I planned to go into pre-med in college at my father's urging. He would have been pleased to hear I only lasted two quarters before I switched to Art as a major.
My undergrad years at University of California, Davis were certainly interesting and formative. It was there I developed my minimalist line drawing style, but I could have grown as an artist so much more. Wayne Thiebaud, Robert Arneson, Roy De Forest, Manuel Neri, William Wiley and Roland Petersen, among others, were artists in residence while I was there. For the most part, I stayed away from their classes, however. They demanded a great deal of work, I thought, and I would just rather "create".
De Forest wasn't the only teacher who told me, "Jeff, you have incredible talent … but you're lazy." I was content to do my line drawings, which I never did for a class, instead of rolling up my sleeves and becoming a technical master.
I have since come to realize that the greatness of one of the artists I admire most, Salvador Dali, came from his being a master technician first - allowing him the judgment to break the rules and chart new territory.
It was at UC Davis that I met another cherished mentor, theatrical set designer Gene Chesley. He taught me quite a bit about set design, but mainly he encouraged – he made me feel as if I'd taught him a thing or two - and, maybe I did.
Discouraged that I couldn't make a living doing art - owing mostly to the wrong notion that I shouldn't have to work at it - I taught myself computer programming and have made money doing that.
In recent years, encouraged again by good friends who saw some of my earlier work, I began doing line drawings again, working at them this time, and refining them into what you see today.
"You're like Picasso, only better", one friend said ... encouragement is where it's at.
Jeff Quiros - December 2014