Death Row Artist William Noguera - Visions From the Pen(itentiary)
By: Cassandra Richardson
Artistic expression has meant salvation for William Noguera, a San Quentin resident and current California Death Row inmate who creates thought-provoking, critically-acclaimed pen & ink drawings from his 4'x10' cell. Imprisoned since 1983, William Noguera's story is that of a man who has found a way to keep hope alive in the face of injustice, brutality, and unjust incarceration.
Noguera sits on California's Death Row for the death of his former girlfriend's mother. He currently awaits the results of double-decade long appeals process; his case and conviction have been called by many, "a travesty of justice."
During his first year in prison, and an enforced 27-day straight stay in solitary confinement, Noguera began drawing on the walls of his cell. Since then, unschooled and untrained, he's continued to create art in a pointillist style which he describes as "monochromatic neo-cubism in ink stippling." Hundreds of thousands of individual dots are placed, evincing images of startling reality; each piece requires 3-6 months for completion.
In 2008, Noguera told the San Francisco Chronicle, "Art is not a luxury for me, it's a necessity . . . as soon as I pick up the pen, I'm gone from this place. Art gives me the freedom I crave. The only thing I have is my imagination. Art for me is about childhood, going back to when things were simple and innocent. The man before you is just a vehicle for that little boy." At times, he's driven to work for up to 12 hours a day, this, his only way to function in a world surrounded by rapists, murderers, and child molesters. He is still paying a debt some 25 years later for a brief moment of teenage rage.
Often, those condemned to death find religion as a comfort, but William has found his salvation in art-a monk-like routine that keeps him far-removed from crime, drugs, and gang-affiliation, common plagues of penitentiary life. Each carefully placed drop of ink transports him to another time and place, a reminder of the boy he was in the free world, and the man he has become.
About the Author:
Cassandra Richardson wrote for CamorraFineArt.com, a website that is not online at this time.
For other articles and videos on this topic, please follow the links below:
One of the great things about being an artist is creative freedom to use your medium as you desire. Pen & wash gives you freedom.
The quality and textures of watercolor paper varies widely. Picking the right paper for your pen and wash drawings is crucial.
When I buy a cheap set of watercolors, I usually put it under the faucet, get rid of the colors and keep the palette for good colors.
If you have never use the pen and wash technique, it is time to give it a try. It is an absolute joy, if you choose the right pen.
Becoming versatile in multiple media enables you to choose how to best represent a subject in the appropriate medium.
Knowledge of perspective often makes an architectural student have a better grasp of drawing objects than an art student.
There is something so special about a fountain pen. I remember a teacher who seemed so classy when he wrote with his pen.
Pen and ink drawing can be fun. It is my preferred medium for sketching. I can add a wash with sumie paint or watercolors.
Just as in any other profession, artists generally specialize on a particular subject matter, such as landscapes, buildings, or cars.
Kim Van Hoorn has drawn plenty of houses and buildings in pen & ink. Some were used for ads and greeting cards or just as décor.
When viewing a subject you are going to draw, you have to decide on whether you want to concentrate on mass or on line and chose your tools respectively.
When you are a death-row inmate, art is not a luxury, but a necessity, but that can be true even if we are not in death row.
Here is whimsical look at an artist's approach to her art. No all art is commercial, but we can strive to make our creation a masterpiece.