Saturday, February 28, 2015

First African American : Nat King Cole

Nat King Cole is considered to be one of the greatest jazz pianist of all time. He played his first performance at the age of 4 years old.  At 12 he was a church organist and he created his own band at the age of 16.  He started out as a jazz pianist, performing with two other musicians and playing for the public in various venues. He was asked one day to sign by one the patrons one night and people took notice and he got a record deal that led him to record popular classics such as "The Christmas Song" and "Unforgettable". In 1956, he became the host of the Nat King Cole Show on NBC. It was a controversial show because it was the first time an African American starred on a variety show. The show lasted a year. Cole pulled the plug because of the financial pressures of running a show without national sponsorship. He continued to create hits and selling millions of record around the world until he passed away from lung cancer, most likely caused by his heavy smoking habits, at the age of 45. Several years later, Nat King Cole was inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame, the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Down Beat Jazz Hall of fame, the Hit Parade Hall of Fame and the Latin Songwriters Hall of Fame. He was also awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. 

Friday, February 27, 2015

First African American : Bessie Coleman

Born in 1892, Bessie Coleman was the 10th child of a family of 13 kids. Being of African descent in those time meant that there weren't a lot of career opportunities for a young black girl. By the time she was 23 years old, she was working as a manicurist in a barbershop. Her faith changed when she heard her brothers and other military clients talk about flying during World War 1 and how women in France could also fly planes. This inspired her to want to become a pilot. And since no aviation school would let her enroll due to her skin colour, she took it upon herself to learn French and work extra jobs to save enough money to travel to France via boat and earn her pilot licence. 

In 1921, she became the first African American female pilot and the first to have an international pilot licence. This fearless petite woman specialized in stunt flying and parachuting. This was the only way she could earn a living doing what she loved, since commercial flight had yet to be established. In order to become a stunt pilot, she had to go back to aviation school for more advanced lessons. Once again, discriminations in the United States kept her from being able to enroll in the school so she headed back to Europe to learn from teachers in France, the Netherlands and Germany. She then returned to become an acclaimed pilot nickname "Queen Bess" by her fans, both black and white. She had dreams of starting an inclusive aviation school. Unfortunately, she never got a chance to fulfill that particular dream. In 1926, her plane unexpectedly dove and spun around while she was planning a parachute jump for the next day and her mechanic was flying the plane. Both her and her mechanic die on impact.  

During her short life, Bessie Coleman inspired many African Americans to dare to dream bigger  and that no matter how big the obstacles are, if there's a will there's a way. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

First African American : Henry Ossawa Tanner

Henry Ossawa Tanner was the first African American painter to gain international acclaim in the late 1800s and early 1900s. He was the only black student at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and it was not always a pleasant position for him to be in. In his autobiography, The Story of an Artist' Life, he stated  that the racism he endured troubled him deeply while living in the United States. This pain led him take an opportunity to move to Paris where he felt more accepted amongst his peers. In his new home, he met and learned from several prominent artists. His popularity increased when he started to pain biblical scenes, and in 1986, Tanner got one of his paintings accepted at the official art exhibition of the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris. He maintained a successful career as an artist and was made Chevalier of the Legion of Honor in 1923, one of the highest honors in France.

Tanner is also the first African-American to have a painting, Sand Dune at Sunset, purchased for $100,000 by the White House for their permanent collection, during the Bill Clinton administration era. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

First African American : Zelda Wynn Valdes

Zelda Wynn Valdes was a very successful fashion designer and costumer with a knack  for designing outfits that masterfully highlighted women's curves. Her style caught the eye of Hugh Hefner who commissioned her to create the famous and iconic Playboy Bunny outfit. She also created outfits  for many of the celebrities of the 40s and 50s, including Joyce BryantDorothy DandridgeJosephine BakerElla Fitzgerald, and Mae West. She was the first African American to own a shop, Chez Zelda, on Broadway in New York city. Later, at the age of 65, she became the head costume designer for the Dance Theatre of Harlem and kept that role until she retired at 83. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

First African American : Arthur Mitchell


At a time, before the civil rights movement, when many believed that African Americans were not physically fit to become ballet dancers, Arthur Mitchell, an African American teen from Harlem got offered a scholarship by the co-founder of the School of American Ballet, Lincoln Kirstein. George Balanchine, a prominent choreographer originally from Russia, took Mitchell under his wings, went against the grain and not only did he teach a black man to dance ballet, he created leading roles specifically for him. When parents didn't want their child to dance with him because of his skin colour, Balanchine supported him and told these parents to take their kid out the school. He even refused to have his group perform on TV when he was asked to remove Arthur Mitchell from the group.  
A couple years later, the death of Dr. Martin Luther King triggered in Mitchell the need to create the Dance Theatre of Harlem, the first of its kind, as a way to reach out to kids who didn't get the same opportunities he did as a ballet dancer. From its humble beginning in a garage, to a full fledged school with dancers touring around the world, Arthur Mitchell, through his hard work and dedication opened (and still is opening), doors for many dancers, adding more colour to the world of ballet and giving many the permission to live their dream of bringing something of beauty to the world through dance. 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

First African American : Halle Berry

Halle Berry started out as a model before venturing into acting. She participated in several pageants and won the 1985 Miss Teen All American, and the 1986 Miss Ohio USA. She later went on to pursue her dream of working in the entertainment industry by moving to New York to become an actress. After a rough start where she was homeless for a short period of time, and collapse on the TV set while shooting a television series, she managed to get a small role on Spike Lee's Jungle Fever movie but it wasn't before she landed a leading role on Boomerang that she started to get some attention. She continued to work on various type of roles to establish herself as a professional actress. She's notorious for taking on role that doesn't always rely on her beauty. It took her 10 years and 16 movies before she was finally able to win an Oscar for her roll in Monsters Ball for best actress in 2001, and thereby becoming the first African American woman to win it. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

First African American : Booker T. Washington

I had never heard of Booker T. Washington before doing a little research for this series of portrait, which is surprising considering all of the things he has accomplished during his lifetime. Washington was a dominant leader of the African American community from the late 1800 until his death in 1915.

Born from an African-American mother, who was a plantation slave, and a caucasian dad who's identity remained a mystery, he became a free citizen at the age of 9. He went on to pursue his education while working to earn money to pay for his education, and became the leading voice promoting the progress of African-Americans through education and entrepreneurship.

As an educator, author, orator and advisor to presidents of the United States, Washington was the giant who's shoulders key leaders, such as Martin Luther King and Barack Obama, have been able to stand on. His mission was to empower the African-American citizens through education and self help, thereby solving the problems of discrimination and inequality. He believed that by providing needed skills to society, Black Americans would play their part, leading to acceptance by White Americans.

Brooker Washington brought together middle-class African-Americans, church leaders, caucasian philanthropists and politicians to work together on a long-term goal of building the community through education and self help. His connections enabled the establishment of several black schools in rural areas through their donation of money, time and labor. He later founded the National Negro Business League in 1900 with the support of Andrew Carnegie in order to promote the commercial and financial development of African Americans. It was later renamed the National Business League in 1966 and still exists today. 

Washington is also the author of several books including the best selling Up from Slavery, still available today. Following the success of his book, he and his family were invited to dine with President Theodore Roosevelt at the White house. He was the first African American to be invited.  

Washington continued to work on his mission until his death at the age of 59, due to a heart failure. His legacy includes over $1.5 million to the Tuskegee Institute, the school he lead for most of his life, as well as the education and empowerment of the black population in the South. His contribution to American society granted him an honorary master's degree from Harvard University in 1896, and an honorary doctorate from Dartmouth College in 1901.

In 1940, several years after his passing, Washington became the first African American to be depicted on a United States postage stamp. He later was honoured on the first coin to feature an African American ( from 1946 to 1954).  A memorial was dedicated to him in 1984 at Hampton University near the historic Emancipation Oak, and another memorial was erected for him in 2009 at the West Virginia State University. Several schools throughout the state have also been named after him.  Brooker T Washington is a key player in Black history who had a dream of inspiring former slaves and their future generations to become more. I bet he would be proud to see how far we've come, 100 years after his death. 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

First African American : Oprah Winfrey

There's no question that Oprah Winfrey is a pioneer in the entertainment industry and an important figure in Black history who keeps breaking new grounds in a very positive way. Oprah wears many hat : she's a talk show host, an author, a model, an actress, a producer, a CEO, a philanthropist and more. Despite her difficult beginning, as a child born in poverty to a single teenage mom, she defiantly found a way to pull herself out of her traumatic environment and went on to become one of the wealthiest, most loved and recognized celebrities in the world. 

Oprah is known for her very popular show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, which was the highest-rated program of its kind. She completely change the television industry and help countless people around the world deal with their own issues, traumas, prejudices, growths, pains and joys. She's written five books to date, and published O, The Oprah Magazine, which I believe to be the first of its kind as well. She also has a radio channel, Oprah Radio and a very popular website fill with a lot of valuable content for its viewers. It's no surprise that she became the first African American billionaire and is considered to be one of the most powerful and influential woman according to organizations such as CNN, TIME, Life, USA Today, Ladies Home Journal, Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, Forbes, etc. 

Oprah is also quite the philanthropist: As of 2012, she was reported to have given away $400 million dollars to educational causes, as well as 400 scholarships, countless prizes on her show and a vacation in Hawaii for her employees and families (1065 people). She is the first African American to join the list of top 50 most generous Americans. 

Oprah continues work on making the world a better place and raise the bar when it comes to the possible accomplishments of not only African Americans but every individual around the world, no matter what their circumstance may be. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

First African American : Louis Lomax

Louis Lomax was a scholar, graduate from Yale University, who pursued a career as a journalist and author. During his short life, he wrote for various publications, gave lectures and hosted television programs. In 1959, he became the first African-American television journalist for WNTA-TV. A notable moment of his career involves a five-part documentary series called The Hate That Hate Produced where he introduced Elijah Muhammad and Malcom X to the viewers who, for the most part, hadn't heard about them until then. He died in a fatal car accident at the age of 47 before he had a chance to finish his book about Black history. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

First African American : Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin is a very successful singer, songwriter and musician who's been in the business since 1956. To this date she has released 39 studio albums,  6 live albums, 47 compilation albums and 131 singles. She known around the world for the songs "R-E-S-P-E-C-T"  and "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman", which are major part of our culture and won several awards over the years. Between 1968 and 1975 she won a Grammy every year, to the point where some people were referring to it as the Aretha Award. In 1987, became the first woman to be  inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in the performer category. Last October, she became the first woman to have 100 songs on the Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip Hop Song chart. Let's just say, she sings a lot a good song and definitely made her mark in history.  

Monday, February 16, 2015

Sketching in the Subway on a Cold Winter Day

Despite the extreme cold temperature warning in the city, a couple of urban sketchers left their warm cozy home to go sketch people in the subway. We had a great turnout and a lot of great sketches of people riding the subway on a frigid Sunday afternoon. Torontonians don't usually get temperatures below -20 degrees C, so it was interesting to capture the various ways they bundled up to protect themselves from the cold. Tuques, caps, hooddies, puffy jackets and lots of layers were popular today. An interesting fact that we discussed while observing passengers, is that most people wear black or grey coats. There's not a lot of bright colours for outerwears in the city other than the occasional red Canada Goose Jackets. 

Above are the sketches I did. I was able to capture some conversation going between two teens about a game. They seemed so serious about it. By the look on people's face, I would say that most have had enough of winter and are looking forward to spring weather. Hopefully soon we'll start seeing temperatures above zero. 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

First African American : Matthew Henson

Matthew Henson had a rough start.  Born at the end of the civil rights movement, he lost both of his parents, and his uncle (guardian) before the age of 12. He moved on his own to Baltimore to become a cabin boy on a merchant ship, where the captain, Captain Childs, took him under his wing and taught him to read and write while traveling the world. Henson took this opportunity to learned how to navigate a ship while traveling the world under the captain's care. After his mentor passed away he went back to work on land  until he met Commander Robert E. Peary who recruited him to help with his expedition in Nicaragua. 

Henson's impressive navigation skills convinced Peary to recruit him as his "first man" for his own expeditions. Their dreams of exploring the world eventually led them to the North Pole, where Henson was instrumental in the success of expedition to the North Pole in 1909. Henson had learned the ways of the Inuits and was able to communicate with them in their own language. He said to have been instrumental in the survival of the participants. 

There are rumours that Henson reached the North Pole before Peary, if so he was technically the first man to reach that point. Still, Henson's contribution was largely ignored by the main public hen they came back, but he was celebrated right away by the Black community for his work. It took 28 years following their expeditions for Henson to be admitted to the Explorers Club. In 1944, he finally received recognition for his efforts and was awarded several medals by Congress. He became an honorary member of the Explorer Club in 1948. 

Friday, February 13, 2015

First African American : Beyoncé Knowles-Carter


Beyoncé  needs no introduction. She's a great artist with many talents : She sings, she dances, she writes, she acts,  she models, she designs, she produces, and who knows what else she'll add to her portfolio in the future!  She's been dominating the entertainment business for close to two decades, always innovating and bringing new energy to the industry. At 33 years old, so far she won 10 awards in the retail industry, 5 awards in the films/television industry, 4 awards in the business/wealth industry, 5 awards in the personality/image industry, 1 award in journalism, 1 award in philanthropy,  and a staggering 312 in the music industry including the first African American woman to win the the Songwriter of the year from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. Looks like she's on her way to becoming the artist with with most awards as well. 


Beyoncé is a huge inspiration for me as an artist and as a woman. She constantly pushes herself to learn and do more, perfect her craft and see where it takes her. She's a very hardworking woman from what I can see and as a results is able to reap the benefits for such focus and dedication. She's a great example of what happens when you give your all to pursue your passion. 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

First African American : Robert L. Johnson

Robert L. Johnson is the first African American billionaire who made his fortune after founding Black Entertainment Television in 1979, a cable television network catering to a prominently African American audience. Although he had the idea, he didn't have the money to start the network. Fortunately, he was able to partner up with John Malone, a billionaire business executive in the industry, who invested half a million dollars for 20% of the company. In 2001, they sold BET for 3 billion dollars.

The creation of BET is a significant part of history as it opened the door to several African Americans in the entertainment industry and enabled viewers to get a chance to see an often hidden part of society with different point of view. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

First African American : Ursula Burns

Ursula Burns is the perfect example proving that someone's situation is not necessarily their destination. You do not need to define yourself by your current environment if it doesn't match your aspirations. Despite being born in poverty and raised  in the projects by a single mom, Burns appeared several time in Forbes top 25 list of most powerful women in the world. Through hard work and dedication, she went from being a summer intern at Xerox to becoming their CEO.  

Ursula Burns is redefining what the CEO of a Fortune 500 company looks like and showing young girls that it's possible for them too to become a CEO.  As the first African-American woman CEO of a Fortune 500 Company, she has a created great new role model for young girls of all background to aspire to. 

Sunday, February 08, 2015

First African American : James Baskett

Born in 1904, James Baskett fell into acting at a time when being an actor was the type of job someone would get to pay their bills. He wanted to pursue a career in pharmacology but his lack of finance caused him to abandon school and moved to New York to become an actor. He obtained several acting roles in all-black films as segregation was still in place at the time. In 1945, he auditioned to be the voice for an animated character in Disney's featured film called Song of the South. But Walt Disney was so impressed with his skills that he hired him not only for the part he auditioned for, but also to be the part of Uncle Remus on screen. 

The movie was controversial partly due to the level of racial tension at the time and the fact that some saw Uncle Remus as a demeaning character to African American. To this day, the has yet to be an official release of a home video version of the movie in the United States.

Baskett was not allowed to attend the film's premiere in Atlanta, which was racially segregated by law at the time. Still, many were impressed with his talent and two years after the release of the movie, he received an Honorary Academy Award for his performance as Uncle Remus. It is said that Walt Disney had plans to work on other projects with  him but sadly he died of a heart failure at the age of 44 a couple month after receiving his award.

Baskett was the first to sing Disney's the famous "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" song which won the Academy Award for Best Song in 1947. The song is still used in various Disney montage and theme park. 

Saturday, February 07, 2015

First African American : Tyra Banks

Tyra Banks first started as a model at the age of 15 while she was still in school. After being rejected by 5 model agencies, she signed with Elite Model Management.  She appeared in several fashion shows, magazine covers and advertising campaigns for big names in the industry while she was in Europe.  In 1997, back in the US, she broke a couple barriers in the American fashion world and was the first African American model to grace the covers of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit, GQ and the Victoria Secret Catalog, expanding the definition of beauty in North America.  

Tyra is not just a model. She's quite the business woman. On top of a successful career as a model and actress, she started to work behind the scene. She founded her own production company which produced the Tyra Banks Show and America's Next Top Model (currently on its 21st season). She recently attended Harvard Business School and completed a business degree before starting her new line of makeup called Tyra. She's a great example for younger generations regarding the possibilities for young girls to not just rely on their beauty to be successful, but to also use their creativity and passion to do great things. 


Friday, February 06, 2015

First African American : Guion Bluford


As a kid, Guion Bluford had aspirations to become an aerospace engineer. With his grand goal in mind, he set out to do all the hard work required to live his dream to the fullest. He first obtained his bachelor of Science in aerospace engineering at the age of 22. He then trained as a pilot and received his pilot wings and flew 144 combat missions during his time as a fighter pilot. Following that, he became an instructor pilot at the age of 25, serving as an evaluation officer and assistant flight commander. At 29, he became an executive support officer after attending Squadron Officers School. And the next year, he entered the Air Forces Institute of Technology and graduated where he completed his master of science degree with distinction in aerospace engineering. He obtained a doctorate in philosophy of aerospace engineering with a minor in laser physic from the same institute at the age of 36 and was picked out of tens of thousands of applicants to become an astronaut with NASA.

Becoming an astronaut doesn't necessarily mean that you will get a chance to fly in space, but Guion was one of the lucky few to have the privilege to see the earth from a rare point of view at the age of 41. He was involved in a total of four shuttle missions to space where he spent a total of 700 hours. In an interview, when asked if he would go back given the opportunity to do so, he agreed without any hesitation. Guion was the first African American in space and although he didn't plan on being the first he "wanted to set the standard, do the best job possible, so that people would be comfortable with African-Americans flying in space. And African-Americans would be proud of being participants in the space program and encourage others to do the same". He opened the door to new possibilities in the eyes of many African Americans, some of which followed his path and became astronauts in space as well.  

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

First African American : Serena Williams


Whenever I think of the word "winner", Serena Williams' name usually  comes to mind. Her stats as a tennis player are simply astonishing. So far, she's won 92 out of 113 games. That's an 81% success rate! She's been ranked six times No 1 in the world by Women's Tennis Association, the only female player to have won $60 million in prize money, and she holds the most titles of all active players (male and female). 

Not only did she break records for African Americans, but for all women in tennis. I remember, watching some tennis matches when I was younger during the Agassi era, and I always thought the games between the women were so boring compared to the games between men. Serena changed that. She definitely elevated the game for women and also made it more interesting with her colourful and original outfits. She essentially broke the previously restrictive mold for female tennis player and allowed them to be themselves on the court. She put her mark in history and is a true legend and inspiration. 

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

First African American : Barack Obama

Barack Obama is the first (and second) African American president of the United State. He also go was the first elected president of the Harvard Law Review  (perhaps a sign of things that came less then 20 years later). He comes from a very diverse family and has family ties in many parts of the world, which is a great thing.     

The election of president Barack Obama made worldwide news back in 2008. I think for most people around the world it was totally unexpected. For me it made me realized that I underestimated how much the United States had grown, 40 years after the death of Martin Luther King and 45 years after the death of John F. Kennedy. Not that it's perfect, but it's better. His election definitely brought a wave of positive changes, especially when the idea of an African American president until then, was more of a funny story than a possibility. I remember laughing at "Black Bush" skits on the Dave Chappelle Show. I wish I would have been able to see Chappelle's reaction to the latest address about the States' plans for Mars. I also wish I would have seen the reaction of Barack watching that particular skit from Chappelle about going to Mars. In any case, his election is a significant part of Black History. 


The 6 Lessons Arnold Taught Me

Arnold Schwarzenegger Portrait Sketchnotes Sketchbook Art Total Recall

So I finished Total Recall and found a lot of great lessons that can actually be applied in my field. Success leaves clues, and his book is full of tips related to success. The great thing about the clues found in this book is that they can be used in any area of your life no matter what you’re into. The 6 main tips I got from Arnold are :
  1. Start with a compelling vision
  2. Start when you don’t know everything
  3. Don’t do it alone
  4. Repeat, repeat, repeat
  5. Hustle, hustle, hustle, hard
  6. Never stop learning


1. Start With a Compelling Vision

“ So I stuck with my original vision : a letter or a telegram would come, calling me to America. It was up to me to perform well and do something extraordinary, because if Reg Park had gotten to go there by doing something extraordinary, then I also would get to go by doing something extraordinary” (pg. 70)
Visualization is a big part of reaching your goals. You have to know what you want in details, have a compelling reason for it and see yourself achieving your goal before you can begin to make it happen. If your vision doesn’t move you, chances are it won’t happen. Then, once you have a clear vision, you have to do everything in your power to get from where you are to where you want to be. Often people don’t really know what they want and that’s the main reason why they don’t get what they want.  Once you know for sure what you want, make sure you have a picture so clear you can feel it pull you towards it, and then put all your energy into making it happen.


2. Start When You Don’t Know Everything

 I like to always wander like a puppy. I walk into a problem and then figure out what the problem really is. Don’t tell me ahead of time. Often it’s easier to make a decision when you don’t know as much, because then you can’t overthink. If you know too much it can freeze you.” (pg. 150)

Often, knowing too much can be detrimental to getting things done. I call it Analysis Paralysis.  It’s something I often have to watch for because I can easily get so caught up in planning the perfect thing that it doesn’t end up getting done because it’s will never be perfect enough. I like Arnold’s approach to situations like these : know enough to get started and clean up as you go. He also goes on to say something that really stuck with me about his two-times PhD economics professor, while he was taking business classes : “Knowing it all is not really the answer, because this guy is not making the money to have a bigger car. He should be driving a Mercedes”. His professor had a Volkswagen Beetle.


3. Don’t Do it Alone

“ It was a privilege to get such an inside view of a presidential campaign, especially just two week before the election. I’d never been involved in even a mayoral election, but now here I was seeing what the candidate does on the plane, how long he sleeps, how he preps for the next speech, how he studies the issues, how he communicates , and how relaxed he makes it all look.”  (pg. 372 )
One common theme throughout the book is the fact that Arnold always surrounded himself with peers having similar aspirations, as well as multiple mentors who not only inspired him to be the best he could be but also showed him how to do so. Having peers keep you accountable. It also makes your journey less lonely and more enjoyable since you get to share your experiences with them. Having mentors gives you an advantage that no amount of studying or experience can ever give you.


4. Repeat, Repeat, Repeat

From the bodybuilding days on, I learned that everything is reps and mileage. The more miles you ski, the better skier you become, the more reps you do, the better your body. I’m a big believer of hard work, grinding it out, and not stopping until it’s done” (pg. 308)

Also known as The 10,000-hour rule, practice is where it’s at. There’s not question that in order to be good at something you have to practice a lot. Although it’s rarely mentioned in the media when talking about the success of celebrities, when you start digging under the surface to really get the details of how someone goes from ordinary to extraordinary, you quickly realize that repetition is key. Reps have been a key components in Arnold’s multiple successes. It’s the foundation of his success. He did it in bodybuilding, in movies and in politics.


5. Hustle, Hustle, Hustle, Hard

“Whenever I finished filming a movie, I felt my job was only half done. Every film had had to be nurtured  in the marketplace. You can have the greatest movie in the world, but if you don’t get it out there, if people don’t know about it, you have nothing. It’s the same with poetry, with painting, with writing, with inventions. It always blew my mind that some of the greatest artist from Michelangelo to van Gogh, never sold much because they didn’t know how” (pg. 342)

I always wonder what make some actors thrive and reach international status level, while others are still waiting tables. I always thought it was very similar to the difference between an multimillionaire artist like Damien Hirst or Jeff Koons, and other great artists who still need a 9 to 5 job to pay the bills. In Arnold’s opinion it’s in the works after completing the masterpiece that makes the difference. Creating the masterpiece is only half of the big picture.


6. Never Stop Learning

“For the next week, I was basically in sponge mode. The staff called it Schwarzenegger University, and the house was like a train station, with experts coming and going constantly” (pg. 502)

Although being a know-it-all is not the goal, it's important to alway be learning. Most common people stop learning as soon as school is no longer an obligation. Successful people on the other hand never stop learning. There’s always something to learn, there’s always someone who knows more than you from whom you can learn from.  By allowing yourself to learn, you can grow into a better version of yourself and accomplish a lot more in your life.  Arnold never stopped learning, he went to school to complete a business degree, learned English and took acting lessons while he was winning titles as a body builder. Needless to say, he was the most successful body builder. Even after he was officially elected governor, he took the time to learn as much as he could from experts in various field in order to make sure he would do the best job he could as a politician.

Being a student of life and staying curious will always put you at an advantage and make you interesting. It will enable you to connect and relate to more people and make you a happier person in the long run. Did you know that Arnold is also an artist? He use to draw castles in pen and ink and paint Christmas and birthday cards for his wife and kids. 

If you were to adopt one of Arnold’s tips in your life, which one it be?

Monday, February 02, 2015

First African American : Tiana


Tiana is the first African American princess appearing as a main character in Walt Disney's Pictures. She's the 9th Disney princess following Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora, Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Pocahontas, and Mulan. Rapunzel and Merinda came afterwards. 

Although Tiana is a fictional character, she plays an important role amongst kids into Disney movies: They get to see that princesses come in various shades. Tiana is the first princess to enables little girls with a darker complexion to relate to one of the Disney characters in a positive light. As a kid I was never into the princess idea because I couldn't relate to any of the characters at the time. It's nice to know that at least now less kids will feel left out. Another positive impact from this is that it opens the door to a more diverse group of actors working at Disney World as princess impersonators. Let's hope, this is just the beginning of a more diverse cast of main characters from Disney and that future princesses will come in various shapes, size, colour and gender. 

Sunday, February 01, 2015

First African American : Wendell Scott

I thought I would do a portrait series called First African American for Black History Month. I'll essentially look for people who were the first to accomplish something in the US and draw their portrait as a way to learn a little bit more and practice on toned sketch paper. This annual observance, said to "honor the too-often neglected accomplishment of black Americans", first started as Negro History week back in 1926 and evolved into Black History Month in 1970 and was officially recognized by the U.S. government under President Gerard Ford in 1976. 

First off, is Wendell Scott, a car racer from Virginia who broke down many barriers in the car racing world. There's a quote on Scott's website by author and sport journalist, Peter Golenbock that states "Wendell Scott was to NASCAR what Jackie Robinson was to baseball. The difference was that Robinson played in liberal Brooklyn and had the backing of Branch Rickey and Scott raced in the segregated South and had... nobody".  He didn't get as much support as the other racers and often had to be his own pit crew and mechanic. He even had a sticker on one of his cars that said "Mechanic ME" making light of his situation. Despite his disadvantages, he pursued his racing career starting with the smaller league, Dixie Circuit. His racing career was not without its many trials and tribulations, but he worked his way up the chain, gain the respect of some fans and some peers over time and found a way to infiltrate the racial barrier of NASCAR at the time and went on to win a NASCAR race in 1963. 

Scott continued to race until he was forced to retire in 1973 due to a major racing injury. Four years later, Greased Lighting, a movie based on his story starring Richard Pryor, was released. Scott died in 1990 at the age of 69 from complications due to spinal cancer. He was recently induced into the NASCAR Hall of fame