Paint and Hope by Paul Barrientos


Written by Salvador Rojas

"40oz to freedom is the only chance I have to feel good, even though I feel bad..." - Sublime

The life of an artist is a difficult one. We are all familiar with the term "starving artist". It�s hard to make a living from one's work, but that doesn�t stop the true artist from pursuing their dreams.

The last couple of years visiting Chicano-based art galleries in cities like Highland Park, Whittier, Pomona and Anaheim. One of the few artists that was featured in all the exhibits I attended was Paul Barrientos aka PAW.

While getting to know Paul better and the reasons behind his work, I saw he was an artist that painted for the love of the art and that he loved what he painted.

Paul grew up in the Harbor Area of Los Angeles County and currently resides in the city of Whittier, California.

Fascinated and inspired by Chicano Art and Kustom Kulture, it is reflected in his subject matter; whether he is air brushing, paintings with acrylics, using pin stripping brushes, or drawing with pencils. He captures the traditional Chicano style art in his unique voice that he calls "Paint and Hope."

I visited his personal studio to ask him about his art and the concept of "Paint and Hope."

The concept was born, from the knuckle tattoos of one on his tattoo artist homies that had "PAIN" and "HOPE" blasted on his fingers. Those of us that grew up in the barrio could relate to the struggles of barrio life whether financial, mental, or spiritual. We all have problems that we are trying to overcome. On the word "PAIN", Paul added his personal twist by adding an extra "T", creating the word "PAINT" to represent his art. He felt that the word "HOPE" is such a powerful word; we need more "HOPE" in all our lives.

Then Paul shared with me one of his favorite quotes by Hal Lindsey:

"Man can live about forty days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air... but only for one second without hope."

Paul, now living with a new found hope, says he's blessed to be an artist.

Some of the artists that he mentioned as inspirations were Jack Rudy, Freddy Negrete, Robert Williams, Julian Mendoza, Ed Roth, David Botello, Mike Pickel, and Da Designs. He says we need to be inspired by the artists that came before us. We need to learn from them from an educated point of view. You have to expose yourself to other artists so art can change and evolve.

As an artist, Paul has had to adapt and try new things. He has sold his paintings at several art galleries, and says his painting of @Mi_Frida_Loca that sold at Casita del Pueblo in Whittier is one of the professional highlights of his young career. But, he needed a more consistent form of financial freedom to pay his monthly rent and bills than the occasional painting sold.

He started painting 40oz bottles with custom logos and pin stripes. He then posted their photos on Instagram and other social media outlets. The irony of his �40oz to Freedom� campaign is at one point in his life recklessly drinking 40's could have ruined his life. Paul doesn�t promote excessive alcohol consumption, everything in moderation. Just like when he transformed �PAIN� to �PAINT�, he�s now using 40oz bottles as a canvas to help him earn a humble living while raising his son, "Lil Toons". Paul has him under has wings as a future artist in the making.

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