Thursday, May 27, 2010

May 26th & 27th, 2010 - The Ears and then Pulling it All Together!

So over the past couple of weeks I have been working on my horses. The horses have been a lot of fun and a very interesting study. This Saturday we'll be visiting a friend's ranch and we'll be able to see and feel the horses. It will be a great time.
So yesterday was one of those days where you go here and there and yet there never seems to be enough time. Well for me I don't think it ever stopped! Last night I did get to sit down and work on a sketch of the muscles for the ears and I did a cartilage sketch as well. The ears are just like the human's ear in that if you do a good job on them no one will notice but if you mess up just one little thing....FORGET IT!

So the above drawing were sketches that helped me to understand them, the more you know why, the more natural they will appear.
So today I decided to take all of my studies and bring them together to create a good candidate for the middle panel of my triptych for the charging horses painting.

First, I did a gesture sketch...
Then I did this roaring image of a horse. I loved the muscular build and the emotional feel you get on this one pose. I think it would look great!

Well, check back tomorrow and I'll be posting some images of my latest commissioned piece (below), Jesus' Baptism for the Grace Indepence Church Baptistry.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

May 25th, 2010 - Eyes and the secret to drawing them realistically!

So keeping with my study of the horse, I have posted more drawings that are featuring more of the horse. Hopefully you don't find it too repetitive but the truth is: if you want to get better at what you do you have to do studies.

As a young artist I use to want to paint right away, in fact as soon as I bought the canvas I wanted to start right away! However if you paint without reason or meaning you will soon find your paintings to be without reason or meaning!

I recall buying a 3 foot by 3 foot canvas - biggest one I ever bought and being so excited by it! I started thinking of idea as to what I could paint on it! I became so excited and wanted to do something! So with a vague idea in mind I started painted and the result: Buyer's Remorse.

I regretted buying that canvas and thought to myself "did I just waste all that money?"

The real turn out: I realized why studies are important why going to the art store you need to have a plan and know what you are getting. I am getting this and only this. Don't buy stuff just to buy stuff otherwise your work will have no meaning - the sum of your work will be the product itself and your work should be about you and what you want to express - buying things that don't emphasize what you're doing is just a distraction.

So that's my soap box for today - sorry - but onto the horses'!

So with horses I feel that - like human portraits - you have make your work just right otherwise you may find your viewers' just picking at what's wrong instead of picking which one to buy!

So like the human eye I wrapped a golf ball in a towel. The top quarter and the bottom quarter are cover, then I do a small sketch and observation of the ball. I think this is so important because you can see why the eye sticks out. You can see why the shadows developed. You can see why the highlights are placed where they are.

Afterward I did a in depht look at the eye and the result above proved to be quite nice in my opinion. Notice how the life-light (a simple term for the light reflection off the eye) is lined up with the the highlights on the wrinkle. It's very nice.

Well check back tomorrow as I'll be studying the ears!

Monday, May 24, 2010

May 24th, 2010 - Nose and Lips...every little detail!

May 24, 2010

So the weekend is over and the week starts again! Our weekend was great and we were able to spend a great deal of time with our Church which is really nice.

So, new week, new drawings - I am still engrossed with the anatomy of the horse and today I have begun working on the lips and nose. This is an area that is so unique to the horse. I have done a few drawings of the mouth and lips already and each time I get a better understanding of it. Just like everything else, if you get it right - no one will notice yet if you mess it up it can destroy your work as your viewer's eye will notice something wrong. So, as I have said before, my goal here is to make the best depiction of the horse that I can.

In fact, this wednesday morning we are heading to a friend's home to take photos of horses and to do some jesture sketches to help understand the horse in movement. All of these little studies and drawings will soon come together! My new painting that is underway - I am determined - will be my best work yet!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

May 22, 2010 - Horse Muscles and More!!!

So I am coming close to getting what I want out the middle horse (of my three panel - triptych - painting) and did a practice sketch late last night (early this morning).

So this is what I had and after drawing I realized my areas of improvement. So, I started working on what I needed to do. I noted the should blades seems off and very wide apart. So I did a skeletal sketch of one:

Then afterwards I did a muscle sketch as well:

Also, I did a study of the muslces around the skull.

Well, that's it for now, I'll post more later!

May 21st, 2010 - Studying the Horses' Anatomical Struture

Sorry about this being posted on the 22nd instead of yesterday the 21st - as it was suppose to happen, however Starbucks doesn't have Free Wi-Fi (another reason not to go there!).

So, the night of the 20th (thursday) around 11pm I really wanted to work on my composition for the horses' painting. I have my Triptych ready but I don't have any real composition worked out. I know what I want to see but what I want to happen all comes down to careful and steady preparation.

So I started out this sketch above and worked out the two horses off to the side and the middle horse (it's actually several horses drawn on top of each other) was a bit of a problem for me. I wrote out some notes as to what I wanted to see and I asked "what do I want to express"? I thought about it and that is how my notes started to take off. I think this is an area that is often forgotten about when young artist start out: Preparation!
So after looking at my sketches, not just the above but from before as well I noticed that I really needed to take a long hard look at my drawings. Horse lovers are willing to buy a horse painting if it is done right. One mistake and your painting will be sitting at the galler for years. So the above drawing and the three below are all done to ensure that I know what I'm doing, so that I can be accurate. I want this next painting to be AWESOME! I want it to be BELIEVABLE!

The thoracic limb, I drew out the limb from "Cyclopedia Anatomicae" an anatomy book about animals and humans with illustrations - I worked out the drawing and then realized where I had to make my corrections - this is so vital and I want to be right! So go the extra mile!

So after the skeletal drawing I did one with the muscles. I drew out every strand and grain of muscle and then I labeled each one. In the bottom left hand corner you'll notice that I put:
"If you know whats underneath you will what happens on top".

This statement is very strong and I got it from reading American Artist Magazine. I think that if you know why a shadow is caused or why there's a bump you will be a better and more natural artist.
So after all of that I did a study of the skull as well. There's a certain area on the skull that I tend to miss a lot during my drawing, so the best remedy: Anatomy Studies!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

May 20th, 2010 - Working on the Triptych

So today started off a bit rocky, in fact today is the perfect reason why you do your morning sketches first before anything else! Your day is won or lost by the way you start your morning out. For me it started with a bad McDonald's coffee that was burnt and their employee cussing up a storm, way too much for morning time for me.

So after sitting down and breathing a little bit I started out drawing a few gesture sketches for a potential Gorilla painting - now this painting won't take place overnight and really no painting of considerable worth is just done over night. So may disagree but I believe that even the ones that do happen overnight is really a product of our past experiences that build up over time and - like a glass with too much water being poured into it - it just comes out. Yet it takes something significant to make that spark happen - for me with this gorilla painting I am searching for that spark and the best way to find it is by sketching:

A gesture sketch is one of the most powerful ways to really get into the "essence" of an object. You essentially move your pen in the direction your mind, your body and spirit tell you to. You just go with it. Don't worry about accuracy or about "how real" it looks just worry about recording what you see and feel. Judging by the lines I made in this sketch I feel that I am attracted to the muscular build of these animals and I think that is something that I will be focusing a lot of attention on. This attraction to the muscle structure of animals really show through in a lot of my horse paintings and in fact that next sketch I did was in reference to that:
This drawing (in pen - as always) is a nice and I feel an attraction to the muscle structure here as well. I like the movement and power of the horses and who would I be if I didn't give proper attention to this? It's just doing what's right. I think that by show casing their muscles and powerful movement is a tribute to who they are and I it is important to show that!

So, I think this drawing of the horse is definitely going to be in the Triptych that I built last night. Using three 2ft x 4ft panels I started looking at what must go on there, patience is the key here...this is going to be a long thought out process! And if you think this is long just wait until the colors come into play!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

May 19th, 2010 - The World of the Gorillas

So last night while working on the Wild Horses design (a temporary name - not the official title) I popped in a youtube video. Typically I like to put movies, music or a professor's lecture (thanks Dr. B) as background noise to keep me at ease - working in complete silence kills me!

Yet, the video I put in happened to be about the world of the Gorillas in the Congo. In particularly it was about the silver back gorillas that were massacred a couple of years ago - - and I never really knew much about what had happened or what was going on now.

So this morning I started a drawing from a picture I had taken at the Asheboro Zoo in NC of a Silverback Gorilla in their Forest Glade Exhibit.

The Gorilla is a beautiful animal and it actually made me nervous walking up to the exhibit as it was lying right next to the glass when I noticed it. It got up and stared right at me and moved on. These animals are so breathtaking - they're not swans but they are wonderful creatures.

Well apparently they are not as wonderful to the charcoal traders in the Virunga National Forest of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. While watching the video it is sad to see that the one group - whose mission is to protect them - is under attack as well. The Director of the National Park seems corrupt and the Rebel Leader who has limited access to the Gorillas is ....well he's a rebel leader. Go check out the video here:

So now that we've seen the video and we've heard their story....what do we do? Where do we go from here? What can we do to help?

I feel a new inspiration for a painting....

visit: for more information.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

May 18th, 2010 - Conceptualizing

So this morning I awoke with a renewed vigor to create a new painting. I am thinking about horses again. So this morning's journal entry is another horse drawing.

The horse is a beautiful creature and if you get anything about it wrong you are going to hear about it! So for the next couple of days I am going to be studying these creatures again and again. I hope to make it to an animal farm here in the near future as well.

Monday, May 17, 2010

May 17th, 2010 - Finished Project, Graduation and a New Idea!!

So, yes, it has been a little while since I last posted on here and I hate to admit it but I've been mainly posting my work on facebook more and more. I don't know why but I suppose its easier for my family and friends to check it out.
So the 14th and 15th went by quickly with Graduation and Family coming in. It was hard trying to just get time to think. But I managed to squeeze out a drawing of Dr. Robert Shippey of Bluefield College during Graduation Practice on the 14th (Below). I think the best way for an artist to improve is to continuously draw from life and to do so everyday. I don't think there is any substitution for it.

On the night of the 14th, my final night as a college undergraduate I managed to put on the finishing touches of my new painting! The painting of the elephants entitled:

"Setting Sun", Acrylic and Mixed Media on Canvas, 30" x 48", $995.00

I call it Setting Sun simply because the tim eof elephant is slowly setting as man continues to kill this precious animal for their tusks. It is unfortunate but unless we do something about the sun will set on these wonderful creatures of God.
For the 17th, I woke up this morning thinking of a new idea, a row of horses charging out at you.
On panels measuring 2 ft x 4 ft lined up vertically - five panels in a row - with different horses charging out at you. This will be a great painting. It is between that and more Elephants and Rhinos, I will probably work on both or all three simultaneously, we'll see!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

May 12th and 13th 2010, Painting, Drawing and Comissions!

So yesterday I forgot to post my drawing - sorry about that - but I did a lot of studying of elephants, in case you haven't noticed!

The above painting is the most current one that I am working on and I see areas in need of color TLC and uniformity. I like the composition and background but I really want to make this piece shine and to really stick out from my others. I believe the key to this piece will be the way the texture is handled and that's why I have been really harping on the texture alot in my drawings.

So today's drawing (May 13th) I did a textural study from a frontal view of an elephant, I really want get the shadows and the creases right. I noticed that with each study the closer I get to the accuracy of the animal. It is a great process and as said before it is not the final destination that counts but the journey, the process that makes the difference!

Yesterday (May 12th) was also spent doing studies of not only the texture but of the folds in the skin and how the head looked - as shown above. I also looked a photo of a elephant skull online and found this profile view. I did a sketch and tried to learn why certain shadows were made.

Also yesterday, I did another study of the creases and shadows in the trunk of the elephant. I did this mainly because I would be starting the background elephant and wanted to be sure of where everything went.
So, that's been the journey so far! Yet, I also had a few other projects to do today: two commissions - both portraits. Portraits are fun and I feel its best to do it from your own photos as opposed to just borrowing your clients.
A good example of that happened to me three years ago when I was asked to draw someone from a photograph. I looked at it and thought "not a glamour shot but whatever." I wanted money and they were offering. So I took their offer and did the portrait within 48 hours of their request. I was very pleased with it - as it looked just like the photo - but when they got it they said "she looks fat".
A client's reaction to your work (especially a portrait) shold be a positive experience and when I asked what's wrong they said "nothing you did, it looks like the photo but....I gave you a bad one."
SOooooo! Lessons for that day: Don't take a commission without first meeting your subject matter face to face, then do "from-life" sketches, take some reference photos and then start your portrait! It's like trying to paint an elephant without ever seeing one - it makes no sense.
Well that's all for today, take care and happy drawing!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

May 11th, 2010 - The Value of Studies

So this morning I had a final and today is actually the last final I take at Bluefield ever again! On saturday I walk! It's been a long time coming and just the thought of it just about brings me to tears!
So anyhow, I decided to draw a closer look at the anatomy surrounding the eye of the elephant for the simple fact that I want to really get the feel and texture of this wonderful creature right!
The other night I started a painting of the elephant - something that has been obsessing the pages of my journal lately. I opted to do a painting from a picture that I took in Asheboro NC at the NC Zoo. I really like the composition and the texture around the eye - SO POWERFUL LOOKING!!!!
For the value of doing mulitple studies over and over again and even if they seem repetitve is to help you - the artist - to really get into the essence of the subject matter. Constantine Brancusi was notorious for this - he spent a whole life time studying the bird and his end result was Bird in Space and Bird in Flight - he truly captured the essence of the bird! It wasn't over night and he never gave up. My belief is that if you want to really capture a subject regardless of your style you have to observe and study as much as you can - you have to be obsessed!
So how does the painting look?
Well, so far so good! Above is the first step, I do a semi-detailed sketch or at least enough to get the important structural framework done. Then afterwards I start putting the textures in using Golden Acrylic's Mediums (Light Molding Paste and Fiber Mix).
After the texture comes the painting, but first I wait for the texture to dry. After the texture is dry to the touch I start using light layers of Burnt Umber and Burnt Sienna Acrylic paint from Liquitex. This is basically drawing, but in paint! So if you can draw you can paint!
So after the initial block in, I start adding a little background and detail. I think its important to give every part of your work - while working on it - appropriate care. Don't just focus on the one point and forget to do anything in the background because it can become a distraction. Anything that takes you from the focus of the painting becomes a distraction and when I mean focus I don't mean that you have to have one particular area - your focus can be your message and again if there is anything that takes you away from that then you are just hurting yourself and the image!

So after this morning's sketch and study I came back this afternoon to finish up the detail of the eye, trunk and the area below the eye. I think the above picture truly illustrates the need to study. If you don't then don't be surprised if you can't see a difference between what you are doing and dumbo! STUDY!!!

Monday, May 10, 2010

May 10th, 2010 - Elephants and more!

So, first off, I must apologize for not getting a daily drawing up since last thursday. but here's the good news: I've been working on some great things that I'm going to be sharing here today!

Also, it's the week of finals so everyone around campus here at Bluefield College are going crazy. Typical college life!
So lately I've been on this elephant kick. Almost everyday I've drawn an elephant and the one thing that impresses me are the various textures on the elephant. I am mesmerized by their large size and the way they move. They are - to me - some of the few remaining ideas of what a dinosaur may have looked liked. It is sad however that these poor animals are being killed for their ivory tusks.

The picture above the morning sketch from May 7th and it is a depiction of an elephant grappling with another male elephant looking to cement their place in the hierarchy of where they live.

The above drawing is a textural study of elephants and this was done over the 8th and 9th so this image really inspired me to go ahead and start a new painting!

But once again, why kill a beautiful animal for a decorative piece of ivory? What purpose does that serve? What good does it do when we extinguish an entire speices all for what?

So today's drawing, another elephant, and this morning I awoke with new energy to go forward with this study. Last night I walked into the studio to paint at 8:30pm and I didn't realize what time it was until 1:42am! I love it when I have a goal and a purpose in my work, because then nothing can get in my way. When you're inspired and on fire nothing can slow you down or get in your way, so what are you waiting for?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

May 6th, 2010, What happened to the fifth?

So where's May 5th's drawing? Well since Dana's art show was yesterday I devoted almost all of my time toward helping her. The result: PURE AWESOMENESS!!!

Dana's show was a hit!

Which had me thinking this morning, in Dana's show she has three walls of paintings and on the last wall there are placards that explain how each painting was conceived and designed and studies on how to paint certain subjects.
When talking to someone about the show I said that the whole point behind it was to showcase not just the final piece but to showcase the journey.

So while drawing this elephant this morning I thought to myself: "Enjoy the journey, enjoy the process of discovering and not just the final piece". If you can't enjoy that then you might as well quit and if you quit you will never feel the victory in accomplishment.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

May 4, 2010 - Busy day today!!!

So today I didn't get around to posting this morning's sketch until late tonight but that's our life! Dana has been getting ready for her art show and I've been doing everything I can to help her. Yet I did get a drawing in this morning and I taught my class as well.

This portrait painting below is Donna Chapman's Grand-daughter and she wants to be able to paint her. So in this one hour - 30 minute demo I showed her how and the results were amazing, Donna couldn't believe how nice and accurate it was let alone how quick I did it in with such ease. I'm not trying to brag but what I am saying is that the pic here is not accomplished by sitting around doing nothing. YOu must be willing to wake up everyday and dedicate some time to your craft.

I told Donna that with much patience she will get to this level and she'll be able to do it like me.

But Donna is much like any other person, granted she's done oil painting before but never has she ever done portraiture.

So after a class of getting her to try an assessment drawing to see where she was at I knew she could get there - eventhough she had a lot of doubts. I sent her home with a sketch book and a homework assignment - she was to draw whatever she saw from life over and over again.

When she came back she had made a lot of progress and then we went over gesture sketches and facial features and I recommended that she should try out some portraits from life.

So when she went home this time she did a quick sketch of her husband (pictured below).

Obviously, it is tough and it is even tougher when it's someone you love and know. This happened to be her husband and she felt good about a few things and I generally agree that there are a few good things about the above. Yet overall she was not overly happy with it.

So after that attempt I sent her home trying a different technique and the results are amazing. The above image is after her fourth class with me!

So, abouve is this morning's sketch, the best way to get where you're going is constaant practice and staying involved in art in some way or fashion. I know the mane here is not perfect but I'm trying and that's all that counts! :)

Monday, May 3, 2010

May 3, 2010 - Keep Challenging yourself...

So today I did my morning sketch with a new type of ball point pen that I'm not used to - a Jetstream made by UNi-ball. It's a great pen yet the slickness of the flow of the ink is something that I'm not use to. The ink literally flows right out of the pen.
My initial thought was to take the pens and give them to Dana to use and I'll just use my old one. Yet, moments like these are what make us a better artist, we grow by having to face tougher challenges everyday - even if its using a medium unfamiliar with us. Instead of giving the pen to Dana I immediately switched gears and said "do what you've always done: master it!"
So I went about my sketch and it turned out just nice. This morning's sketch is a gorilla, an animal that I find to be challenging because the textures of the animal make it really difficult/monotonous but its making these little things look that make all the difference between a good artist and a bad one.
Even if you are an abstract artist it is not necessarily about making it "real" but about taking care of your craftsmanship and being a cut above the the rest. It is about respecting what you do!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Celebrating 4 years of keeping a daily journal/sketch book!

So what is so special about May 2nd? Well I don't know about the rest of the world but for me: I started keeping a journal/sketchbook on a regular basis since 2006 on this day. I can't stress enough the importance of keeping a journal, I meet students all the time who want to become better, who want to be at my level, or just want to be confident in what they do. I teach classes every semester in Drawing and everytime I tell student to keep a journal, what do they do? Nothing!

It doesn't matter who they, whether they are doctors, lawyers, nurses, or college students they all seem to think they can get better without a journal. I hate to break it to them but almost every artist who is somebody kept a journal. I kept a journal in the beginning to help me get through Iraq and to keep my talent afloat.

Above: "Our Room", Pencil on Journal Paper, Volume 1
I have been going in and out of art for so long up until that time that I was afraid that I would forget about art and not go back to it unless I kept on drawing. So for me, drawing was a way to keep me going. I think all those who are serious about art, at least in the beginning, are hanging on by a thread - and in a way you are and it is the journals that keep you in the game.

Above: Drawing of my bunk in Iraq, drawn today from memory.

Start journalling now and don't stop!

Above: "The Green Beans", Pen & Pencil on Journal Paper, Volume 1
So here I am writing about my time in Iraq and I can't bring myself to write about Iraq and not mention the importance of this little joint pictured above. The Green Beans Coffee Shop!
Here is a past excerpt I wrote on a different blog from 2009:

Monday, May 11, 2009
The Green Beans Coffee Shop, Kirkuk Iraq
Over the past three years I have been following my dream - to study art - and I am among the fortunate who went through the Iraq War unscathed, yet I am by no mean unaffected by it. I have lost a childhood friend and I have found a new direction in life. The experiences that I went through have only made me stronger and more determined to get the most out of life. One of these experience - actually several experiences - took place at a little place called the Green Beans Coffee Shop.

The Green Beans Coffee Shop is just a little shop set up for troops to unwind. It is similar to a Starbucks and I still remember sitting in the corner doing my work. I spent long hours just reflecting on my past and trying to figure out who "I am" and asking "where am I going?" In the following story I reveal how this little shop was more than a watering hole. It was my "America, 6000 miles away."

"My America 6,000 miles away"

Everyone has a place they feel safe and comfortable, I am no exception to that. For me that safe place was a small coffee shop that radiated with the smell of coffee beans and everyone knew me. I would sit off to the right in a little corner with my “battle gear”: a triple white mocha; drawing pencils laid out in order from 4H to 6B; and my favorite music playing over my headphones. I loved this place! Every time I start to tell people about this place the first reaction is always “oh yeah I’ve been there” or they ask “is it Starbucks?” I smile and say “no it is about 6,000 miles away in the middle of a war zone!”

Every soldier, sailor, airman and marine must find a way to cope with being away from home, the stress of war and depression. Everywhere you would go there was sad news. At dinner time you could hear a group of soldiers talking about the loss of another. At the Chapel, you can count on seeing someone inside crying about another loss while another prayed for peace. The medical center was definitely not a place to visit. Even if you had a cold you did not go there out of respect for the dying. Yet, everyone had their favorite spot to escape: some would hang out at the activity center; some would be in the Chapel Lounge; some would relieve their stress at the gym; and I was one of a few who found the coffee shop to be the perfect escape. For me this place was America 6,000 miles away.

The workers inside of the shop were not American but “third country nationals” from various countries who came to know me all too well. As soon as I would walk in the door they knew what to get me! They came to Iraq as contractors working for small wages ($8.00 an Hour) to send home money to their families. There were two from india: Krishna and Safaras. The other three were Prashad of Nepal, Taj from Pakistan, and Basna of Thailand. Their English was not the best but their humor made up for the barriers! They would have me laughing and excited about life when I was down. We would talk about families and we would share pictures with each other. In fact, I think I had a better bond with them than some of my fellow airman. Some may think that I am wrong for feeling that way, yet I disagree. Regardless of the flag we wore or how different our culture was, we were all a part of the same family: the human race.

So what made this place home? The place was nothing more but a single wide trailer with plain white walls and simple decor. There was a hole in the ceiling from the fire that happened and two posters about coffee facing each other hanging on the two long walls. When you first walked in you saw everything in the building all at once. No hidden corners or doors leading to somewhere secret. There was just a counter to the left, three tables on the right and two speakers hanging in the two corners just above the tables. There was not a single design element that matched anything of an American Coffeehouse, like beige colored walls with curvy lamps adorning the walls. So what made it home? For me, it was not the d├ęcor but the illusion it provided. I recall writing in one of my journals after getting home that “I would get so into my artwork and journaling that I would forget that I was even in Iraq.” The aroma of coffee brought back memories of sitting in Starbucks and the music reminded me of sitting at open mike night. But more than anything else, there were times were I fooled myself. One night I actually believed that my wife, Dana, was sitting next to me and I said “hey honey look at what I did.” Yet she was six-thousand miles away.

Despite Dana’s absence and support, there were people that made my stay memorable and enhanced my direction in life. There were several people who varied in rank and position in life who would just walk in and say a few kind words of encouragement and advice. I can’t pin-point one guy who did the most but between each of them I observed a common message: “life is short, so don’t waste another day.” One of those gentlemen was a twenty-year master sergeant who stayed in for the retirement benefits and was on his third tour of Iraq. He said loud and clear “it’s not worth staying in” and “get out when you can!” He was echoed by another man, Specialist Williams, from the 101st Airborne Division who told the most gruesome story ever. He talked about a cold Christmas Day patrol and how a young girl from supply wanted to go. So as a gift they let her go! Of course nothing was supposed to happen and an ambush took everyone by surprise. The end is too much to repeat. Yet, his words remain with me to this day “you got talent don’t waste it here.” The messages that I kept receiving from those men sent shivers down my spine as I thought “what if tomorrow is my last?”

That question was always in the back of my head. However there was an even more important question that weighed on my mind: “Let’s say if I get through this, then what?” One evening while sitting in my corner I finally put the answer to that question in writing – I’m going back to college! This little corner of the Green Beans did more than just provide a home it brought about a decision that would change my life forever.

After I returned home I woke up one morning aching for the chance to go back to the Green Beans and sit in my little corner. I didn’t care if it was in a war zone, I just wanted to be around my other family. My America, six-thousand miles away.