Artist Sean, 34
At 17, I was transferred from juvenile hall to the county jail and held in isolation. The day after my 18th birthday I was moved into a dorm full of adult men. I was young and scared. I met two men who I would eventually be sentenced to more time than the two of them combined, life without the possibility of parole (LWOP), plus ten years for an enhancement; all for a crime I did not commit. During this time, I met an older Hispanic man covered in prison tattoos. His tattoos and prison experience made me nervous as he sat in the dayroom drawing. I was captivated by his effortless skill. After I got up the nerve to approach him, he was pleased to share his artistic knowledge. Using blank white paper and hair grease bought from the commissary, he taught me how to make tracing paper, then shade with graphite pencils, rolled up toilet paper, and elementary blending of colored pencils. My artistic journey began slowly and mostly consisted of simple cartoon images, but I was hooked. I enjoyed drawing and the peace it gave me.
Over the next several years, each new artist I met, I would ask for tips and advice. I found my passion in colors. I ordered books on colored pencils and studied them intently. I practiced their techniques, pushed beyond my comfort zone and began adapting my own techniques utilizing my accumulated knowledge.
Nearly two decades later I am sharing my artistic knowledge with others. Colors are still my passion and I see them in a way that allows me to blend them into vivid colors. I have always loved creating my art and sending it home to share with my family. I never thought I would be able to share my art on a platform such as Humans of San Quentin and I am honored to do so. There is very little beauty or color in prison, but even the concrete and steel cannot stop me from creating the colorful art I love to share.