Student uses rejection as motivation to be a better artist

By Marc Anthony Martinez

Using inspiration from anywhere, East Los Angeles College student David Paez Rubio practices his craft of art daily. 

Paez Rubio said he recalls a misunderstanding from reading a letter in Spanish where he thought he was rejected from an art program at UCLA. 

He used what he thought was a rejection letter as his motivation to get better, that got him to start learning how to get better. He would study, read, practice art and draw more.

 He would go on YouTube, buy digital books and everything he could so that he could be better than those who were in that program.

Later on, he got a second letter from the program saying they were sorry he couldn’t attend the program and that’s when he got mad. 

Paez Rubio had gotten accepted, but the letter he got was written in Spanish because that’s what his mom spoke and he didn’t read it.

Even though other people had told him he was accepted, he thought they were being nice to him because he was not accepted.

After that second letter came, he got so mad he went on Duolingo and learned Spanish and became even more obsessed with art and drawing. 

He went from doubting himself and thinking he wasn’t good to doubling down and practicing daily. 

He left his friend group because he wanted to draw and study art; he would wake up every day at 6 a.m. and draw. 

He would finish reading art books from Kaws, Takashi Murakami, Wang Ling known as the artist WLOP, Rembrandt Montague and other artists in one day. 

Books from different artists like Andrew Loomis, where Paez Rubio would practice by starting off with the examples and then move on to freehand.

He does a sketch before he studies the book then after to see how it changed. 

Another artist he likes and tries to do work like is Kim Jung Gi, an illustrator and cartoonist, who used ink wash painting, a technique that falls between drawing and painting. 

Paez Rubio has a painting with ink wash where he tries to paint like Jung Gi, “It started off with one guy and just came out with several people,” said Paez Rubio.

Kaws is a street work artist, who he gets inspiration from as well. Paez Rubio uses these other artists to teach himself how to get better. 

He would join art discords where he met his friend Ivan Santosa.

“He’s keen on observing paintings, I usually give him more details on how to paint and render arts,” said Santosa.

He reaches out to artists for critique on how to improve and then they will tell him what to focus on. 

“When you’re looking at your own art you don’t really see your own mistakes then you have someone who is also interested in art, they will tell you where you messed up,” said Paez Rubio.

When it comes to his artwork, he likes to paint with gouache, acrylic, oil (his least favorite) and digital painting. 

He draws a little bit of everything and one of his favorite pieces of artwork is from an oil painting he did from a movie called “It’s A Wonderful Life” where Goerge Bailey is on the bridge and has his head in his hands.

He was working on a John Wick oil painting but it frustrated him because he was having trouble working with the oil. 

He wanted the face a certain way but it didn’t come out how he wanted it too. 

He wants to finish whatever oil paint he has left and that’s it.

“There probably won’t be any more oil paintings in the future,” said Paez Rubio.  

Paez Rubio tries to draw daily and has notebooks around his room for whenever he feels like drawing. 

Usually he takes pictures of what he would like to paint, and does it at his house, “I mainly just like practicing at home.” 

He sometimes practices in different areas around ELAC and whatever he doesn’t have time to finish, he does an outline of it and finishes it later. 

“Drawing around ELAC is better to learn how to draw trees and other things,” said Paez Rubio.

In the last year, he has 10 sketch books. Sketches take him about three to five minutes where his other artwork can take him up to six hours to complete.

Whenever he waits for his parents, he starts drawing whatever he sees. He doesn’t have a car right now, but hopes when he gets one, he can have his supplies to paint anywhere he can.

He started drawing a bike because his bike kept breaking down, so he wanted to draw another bike. 

He used a TikTok dance and drew it out frame by frame because he wanted to study the motion they made. 

When you put them together it seems like that person is dancing. He uses another TikTok because he wanted to practice how a building looked and to practice the shape of it.

“At a certain point you study because you want to do art. It would be cool to do a color book for a movie,” said Paez Rubio. 

It’s something he would really like to do along with thumbnails for animated movies and he would like to make a composition where it tells the story.

“If you want to get better, use the environment around you, don’t just try to use your imagination. Learn what things look like, practice them and that will help. The more you practice one thing the more it will help you,” said Paez Rubio

He has an ongoing joke with his friends about going to an art museum, where they would invite him but Paez Rubio says no. Not until he has at least one painting in there he’ll go to a museum. 

It was a joke, but he says that he might have to work at it to make it happen since he keeps saying that.

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