paintings by Samuel Barrera





















Samuel 1


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Visual artist specialized in painting, a law degree, was born in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico on December 28, 1967. Self-taught, Mexican, Yucatecan and living in Merida, with 5 solo exhibitions and more than 20 collective, was member for five years of “Blue Spiral 1” Gallery in Asheville, North Carolina, EU With a 15-year career in the visual arts in the United States parallel between collective and individual exhibitions. Participation in international art festivals and former member of AC Garden Art in Mexico City for three years. Founder and honor member of Corredor Internacional del Arte in the Paseo Montejo of Merida, Yucatan.

Nietzche saw art as man’s struggle against negative social forces by use of the imagination, which he considered a product of pure ego. Art for him was the highest form of clear lucid thought, a tool for the good.
Schopenhauer envisioned art as a device of pleasure. Tolstoi viewed art as a propaganda and Oscar Wilde held to a doctrine of “art makes life”, meaning art is sometimes more real than reality.
I think the purest form of art is to give way to simple visual interest. To look at what you find yourself driven to see. Higher notions of art tend to confine art with lofty moral restrictions.
When art is passed off as a quasi-religion which can only be administered and interpreted by a special-order of priestly elites, the system invariably stifles imagination – even when the art is as liberal as blobs, slashes and splatters.
Art that has to serve as the instrument of artistic revolution is limited by having to react to a greater force in a continual hope of some overthrow, hence becoming the tool of reaction. Even the great revolt is enslaving.
But when all predetermined prejudices are momentarily set aside and you are one of the many at the scene of a horrible accident, your libido will do the looking. Something dead in the street commands more measure units of visual investigation than 100 Mona Lisas. It isn’t what you like; it’s what you really want to see! Art is not the slave of decoration. Hail the voyeur, the only honest connoisseur!
-Samuel Barrera




The art of Hazel Mitchell


“I think new inspirations coming in to an artist’s life all the time and from all kinds of places. As we go along our path we change, new things happen to us – places, people, life. The artists we admire change us and our work too. They all find their way into our personal style. I grew up in England so was very influenced by British art and books in my formative years. I loved anything Victorian, pre-raphaelite and impressionistic. Whistler and Turner informed my painting and drawing, back then. I wanted to be a landscape painter! As I’ve become more involved in making books for children, naturally I’ve been influenced by illustrators. Growing up I loved the work of Quentin Blake, Raymond Briggs, Dr. Suess, Arthur Rackham, Edward Ardizzone, Beatrix Potter to name a few. Ultimately I think Quentin Blake’s freedom of line and colour have stayed as a lasting influence and I strive to achieve that freedom in my work. When I moved to America I discovered a whole new clutch of illustrators I knew little of. I appreciate the work of artists like NC Wyeth, Edward Gorey, Maurice Sendak, Peter Sis, David Small, Melissa Sweet, David Weisner, Marla Frazee among many others. But I find myself going back to study the absolute freedom of Quentin Blake when I am in need of inspiration. He is effortless and genius!”



Hazel13“My route to my present career has been a circuitous one! I was born in Scarborough, Yorkshire in the UK. At school I loved english and art. After school I attended art college to study fine art. But, after a couple of years, I dropped out. I loved to paint, but something was missing for me. There weren’t many illustration courses around back then and unfortunately I became disillusioned with my course. For a while I worked with horses (I had always ridden since a child). Then I signed up for the Royal Navy! I worked on shore bases in graphics offices and I really felt like I learned my trade. I learned to use the first computers for graphics, I did exhibition work and technical drawing. And I still got to use my artistic skills. And the Navy taught me to be self disciplined and how to get up in the morning, which have stood me in good stead all my working life! Because an artist must also learn to be a business person. After leaving the Navy I ran my own general printing and design business until I met my American husband and moved to the USA in 2000. I had continued all those years to paint and draw and when I came to the USA I started to create local landscapes, portraits enter exhibitions and teach children and adults the basics of art. I’d also started to pick up graphic design and commercial illustration as the internet took off and I worked for clients worldwide, even visiting China at one point for a pottery firm. But I had an itch that I had always wanted to scratch and that was to pursue children’s illustration. I’d no clue on how to enter the field, how to contact publishers or get work. My big turning point was in 2009 when I joined the SCBWI, (, started attending conferences and learn about the business. I received a contract for my first book in 2010 from a postcard mailer to art directors and I haven’t been without work since. As this was during the recession I feel pretty good about it now!”



“Working in any creative field requires determination, a love of what you do and persistence. You have to be prepared to keep working at what you love even when times are difficult. The chances are if you love what you do, others will love it too. For a few the path can be straightforward and it seems their rise is immediate, but behind that success are hours of practice, failed projects, the dogged continuation of the art in the face of disappointment. The moments when work sells, you are hired and your efforts are rewarded by recognition make up for that. Although doing something you love is rewarding, everyone needs to live. You may need to decide if your creative life will be a sideline or the way you will make a living. Balance is important. Debt will stifle your creativity. Most freelance artists of any kind will have to supplement their income with other work or teaching unless they have financial means. It’s also hard to pursue an artist’s career without the support of loved ones and your partner. Keeping inspired and having the support of your peers is important too. It keeps you sane! Continuing to learn, go to conferences, take further education, have conversations about art, visit museums and exhibitions, listen to great music, travel if you can locally or widely, observe the world and the creatures and fellow humans in it. Try something different in your art and in your life! Growing as an artist should be something you continue to do throughout your career. But most of all you need to work from your heart and enjoy it! That’s not always easy when things don’t go as you hoped. But for the lows there are great highs. It’s great to win awards and recognition – but the greatest reward is connecting emotionally with people through your work. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”






“If I’m illustrating a picture book written by someone else, I first, of course, read the manuscript. I read it several times to let the sense, theme and story sink in. Then I start to think about how the story flows, how words and pictures will fit together. If it is my own story then sometimes the words come first, sometimes pictures or both together! Illustrating a picture book is like a dance, you must leave space for the words just as the words must leave space for the pictures. I usually first make written notes, noting where to split the words (page turns are very important and can make or break a book! Anticipation is everything !), I note what images are coming to me, think about what the characters look like – are they human or animal or inanimate objects, even? Who are they? Sometimes the art director and editor will include art notes in the manuscript that may direct your thoughts. Most often the ideas are left to you, so you are not confined. Freedom is something we all need as artists and too much input can stifle the process. When I have made notes I will then start to make sketches. Usually I start with ideas for the main characters, the setting, anything else that is important. Depending on the subject of the book I may need to do research into the characters and their world. For example my last book, (‘Imani’s Moon’ for Charlesbridge Publishing by JaNay Brown-Wood), was about a little Maasai girl. I did a great deal of research on the Maasai tribe, their culture, what they wear and the landscape they live in, in Africa. The Maasai are very beautiful and elegant people and have a certain ‘look’. I checked out the animals that are featured in the story and made sure I was drawing ones that live in that region! My research is usually done online and from books. (It would have been nice to go to Africa, though!). Quite often I’ll send the character sketches to the art director to make sure I’m going in the right direction. I feel strongly that one of the things that makes a great book is team work. The illustrator is not working in a void, they are working with the art director, the editor, the designer. The author DOES get input, but that comes through the art director and not directly to me, which works well.

After the characters are worked out I’ll start on thumbnail layout sketches (about 2″ big) of the pages of the book itself. (Very tiny so I can’t put much detail in!) This is really to show the flow and composition of the book, much as you would do for a single painting. I also consider what kind of style the book will be, what is the mood and subject matter, what size it will be (usually the publisher will have ideas about this). Is it happy, sad, funny, dark? What is the age group it’s intended for? I don’t work in one particular style, so this is an important factor for me. Some of my books are very detailed and some much looser. If it’s a chapter book I’ll usually be working in black and white and on single page or spot illustration images rather than continuous pages that tell the story in a constant flow. Next I move on to bigger sketches of each page, trying to keep it loose and fast and rough out what the pages will look like and where the text will go, too. At this point I send the ‘dummy’, (as the drawings are called), to the art director, usually as an electronic PDF.

After any revisions from the publisher I start on the final images for the book. Most picture book are 32 single pages. The medium I use depends on the style of the book. Most often I use graphite, watercolour wash and digital colouring, but sometimes pen and ink and collage. For digital work I use mainly work in photoshop. All my images are usually finished digitally and sent to the publisher that way.

After that I wait for the book to arrive! Then the promotional work begins to help sell the book.”




Q: What have you been up to lately?

A:Illustrating! I have 4 new picture books coming out in 2015/2016 – ‘Toby’, (as I mentioned before), written and illustrated by me and it’s about my rescued poodle. ‘Where do Fairies go when it Snows?’ from Down East Books, by Liza Gardner-Walsh, ‘Animally’ by Lynn Sutton from Kane Miller Publishing and ‘Kenya’s Art’ by Linda Trice from Charlesbridge Publishing. I also have in progress a couple more picture books I’ve written and a middle grade mystery novel set in England, all of which I hope will find a publisher in the coming year.”

Q: Do you have a favorite work?

A: “I am pretty proud of the illustration work I did recently for ‘Imani’s Moon’ by JaNay Brown Wood, published in 2014 by Charlesbridge Publishing.”




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Originally from Yorkshire, England, children’s book illustrator Hazel Mitchell now lives Maine, USA. She has a dog, a cat and several snow shovels. You can see more of her work at:

Twitter: @hazelgmitchell

Hazel and Toby close upHazel and Toby

Art, Interview

art by Jane Gilday


Merida Review: How long have you been painting/writing/making music? (Yeah, we’re focusing on the art here, but it all feeds into each other, doesn’t it?)

Jane Gilday: been painting & drawing–“i wanna do coloring!”–as long as i can remember…my next-oldest sister, connie,(7 years older than me) also draws and paints, and from earliest days i wanted to do what she was mom played piano and i banged around on it, just making noise, but music making really grabbed hold of me at age 13, when the beatles hit the USA…zoom! never looked back…was playing in my first bands, for money even, by age 14.


jane9Arbor Birds

Acrylic on Panel

MR: What were some of your early influences?

JG: visual art: albert pinkham ryder….andrew wyeth…fabrics…wallpaper….my sister connie’s drawings & paintings…everything seen just looking at the world around me…the many, many amazing illustrations in a 1920’s edition of ‘my book house’ that mom had found somewhere…my sister still has some of those books and i’ve bought my own–the ‘good ones’ from the 20’s & 30’s–at local flea markets…music: all kinda pop-rock-folk music heard on radio starting in the mid-1950’s..the zillions of 45’s my sisters trudy and connie had…the classical music mom played on piano and listened to on records…later all the beatle-stones-brit explosion bands, then dylan, then holy modal rounders, new lost city ramblers, incredible string band, then tons of rootsy-folk music and jazz etc….then patti smith (whose music-critic writing in creem etc i loved before she started a band, television, tons more….oh THE BLUE NILE i love the blue nile to the nth degree—plus assorted poets for lyrical content & inspiration etc


Happy Woman on Stoop

Acrylic on panel

MR: Do you know what you’re going to draw/write/etc when you start a project? Or does it just kind of come to you? Or some of both? I guess I mean, how thought out is it, and how much is spontaneous? Does that make sense?

JG: some of both tho what i love best is just starting with no preconception and seeing what happens…i love on-the-spot messy accidents and getting to that totally empty blank-mind state when there’s no words, just visual visual visual…same with music, tho obviously some songs have more deliberate shaping & sculpting to them..but i always try to record new ideas as soon as possible after they’ve occurred to me….i.e. “first thought, best thought”

jane18Laptop Lounge Girls

Acrylic on panel

MR: Can you describe a day in your life? Any day.

JG: i wake up, have a bowl of the thick soups–more like stew–i make in crock pots, then an apple or orange…read while eating…then maybe play guitar some..then go to coffee shop for wi-fi..then do whatever seems like the best thing to do that day…no set pattern.


Acrylic and interference medium on canvas

MR: Do you have a favorite of your own works?

JG: there’s a few, but one is ‘harmonious essence of genesis’, a madonna kinda thing, owned by michael joseph who lives in nyc…michael is the curator of ancient manuscripts at rutgers university library–it’s among my facebook photos…mike is a writer….another is called ‘crucifixion of kathleen’–a triptych, and i think all or part of it is somewhere among my facebook photos…it’s in a private collection in pennsylvania.


Autumn Moonrise on Rocktown Road

MR: How did you get from punk to banjo???

JG : imo punk IS banjo and banjo is punk is rock is classical etc….long before i went to nyc & played in ‘the the’ i was playing banjo, fiddle, oldtime & roots & folk & jazz etc– from age 15 on…..tho i use such terms for convenience’s sake, i dont really believe in punk or americana or jazz or rock or classical or folk or ANY other such academic-reactionary needless-meaningless ‘definition’ is just music and there’s only two kinds: good music and bad music…as duke ellington aspired to in his music: “beyond category”..and .as louis armstrong said: “it’s all folk music–i aint never seen no horse play music.”…and as keith richards said: “there’s only one note–you just stretch it this was and then that way”

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Jane Gilday is an artist, musician and poet living in Pennsylvania. Her artist statement: “jane gilday is 8 years old and likes to color


Art by Skot Horn, part 2: painting


“I can’t remember a time that I wasn’t both interested in photography and painting. It never occurred to me that I had to choose between one or the other. We are not even talking about my other interest in sculpture, found objects, assemblages, woodworking, ceramics or music and then the mere experimentations in other mediums. It wasn’t called to my attention that this may be a dilemma until I was attending school at the art institute of Chicago. An instructor pulled me aside and said he thought I should choose a medium, any medium! At the time I didn’t think I was ready to make that decision. It was in fact impossible at that time. It’s still hard but I have reluctantly set aside many interests and tried to focus primarily on painting.”



“In my painting I often revisit themes after many years, picking up where I left off and exploring it further as if no time has gone by. I think that’s why my work often looks disjointed from an outsiders perspective. It’s just new to you.”





“People that really know me say that even though they appear so different,” (his photography and his paintings- editor) “they can still tell somehow they are all from my hand.”



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Skot Horn, from northwest Ohio, attended the Art Institute of Chicago, and has exhibited with solo shows at the Secor Gallery, the Hudson Gallery, Toledo Museum of Art, Westgate, in the Toledo area, and the Ann Nathan Gallery in Chicago, as well as many group exhibits. His show, “Flower Power,” is currently ongoing at the Secor Gallery in Toledo, Ohio.

Art, Photography

4 photos by Angela M Campbell






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Angela M. Campbell — full time writer, grew up in Ohio and lived in the Philadelphia area and the Washington DC area before moving to Salem, Mass. She has been named as a finalist in the essay category and a semi-finalist in the Novel -In -Progress category in the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition (Faulkner House, New Orleans).  Obviously, she also is a photographer.


4 paintings by Kreso Cavlovic














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Kreso Cavlovic was born in Toronto, Canada, of Croatian parents and grew up in Toronto and Mississauga. He attended Sheridan College, where he won an award for editorial illustration. He worked as a freelance illustrator for TV Ontario, BASF, Southam, etc, while developing his personal style, a style that reflects his Croatian heritage. He divides his time between Canada and Merida. He is represented by the Soho Gallery in Merida.