Gabriel Barrera-Airbrush Story

Lorenzo Ortiz

Gabriel Barrera

I grew up wanting to be an artist ever since I started drawing into sketch books. My parents cultivated my growth as an artist by providing me the tools to create as an artist. My mother was a teacher and my father worked in aerospace as a machinist and eventually as a tool designer before he retired. My manifestation as an artist and mentor is a cultivation of both my parents influence.

My favorite memory of art growth is when I was a teenager and I found my father’s airbrush. He used to paint graphics using an airbrush on cars when he was younger. I was determined to learn how to use the airbrush even though his airbrush was partly broken and the compressor put away with inadequate air pressure.

The moment I walked through the door I realized I was entering into a world that would guide me as an artist and mentor.

When my father saw that I was really practicing a lot and struggling to make the airbrush work he brought me to a specialized airbrush store which existed in a basement of an old building off a main street in Anaheim, CA. The only thing identifying the business was a small airbrushed sign with an arrow that sat low near steps that led down into a basement. The moment I walked through the door I realized I was entering into a world that would guide me as an artist and mentor. The store owner was very helpful and was very encouraging to help spur my interest in all the shiny new airbrushes behind the case. Besides all the new airbrushes and parts behind the case I was enthralled by all the airbrushed artwork hanging on the walls and on t-shirts. My father ended up buying me my own airbrush and compressor with all the accompanying parts and supplies to produce my own artwork. From that day on I never let go of using the airbrush as a skill set. I have used it to produce commissioned artwork and to paint large backdrops for theater. I once had a high school art teacher tell me that the airbrush would be replaced with computers one day and that I was wasting my time. Well, I still use it to this day and it has helped me encourage creativity in young mentees in my workshops and projects.

DE LA RAIZ is a project dedicated to gathering and sharing stories of the rich and diverse Latinx communities of Southern Oregon. Through personal interviews, research, and visual art, De La Raiz hopes to center and uplift our voices while challenging stereotypes and national narratives of who we are.

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