South Beach Finally Gets It After Raucous Behavior

Splash and Color: Art Deco Coloring Book for Kids of All Ages. A coloring book to engage families with Art Deco. I thought it was a good idea a few years ago.

When I pitched my idea about reaching the family market in South Beach a few years ago, I was met with disdain. My plea fell on deaf ears when I approached the Miami Design Preservation League, Delano and the hotels on Ocean Drive about my coloring book and a Coloring Contest to reach the family market in South Beach. I wasn’t surprised by the lack of enthusiasm or vision. Artists have a tendency to be ahead of the curve.

After years of bad publicity and overly aggressive police behavior to control “raucous” behavior Mayor Levine and the City of Miami Beach are endeavoring to change the Art Deco District’s image. They want to make Ocean Drive better for residents and families. The recent Air and Sea Show is a good start. I hope the business community supports the initiatives to make Ocean Drive a safer and better place for residents and families.


Color Your World

Adult coloring Book display at Michaels.

Adult coloring Book display at Michaels.

Two thousand fifteen was the year of adult coloring books. Not sure what cause this craze among Millennials but I think the Great Recession and high student college debt may have played a role.

The coloring book phenomenon reminded me of the Japanese culture’s fascination with Anime and Manga. Perhaps that’s the next American adult trend.

Life can be pretty tough and perhaps the Millennials got caught up in the “Change You Can Believe In” talk. I’m sure they were dismayed when it didn’t immediately translate into more jobs. Unemployment was at an all time for Millennials graduating from college during the Great Recession .

Now with lower gas prices, more jobs and lower employment, there are some things to be thankful for.

Gratitude is good for the soul and a lot less costly than a coloring book and more rewarding. One author says you should write a letter expressing gratitude to someone everyday. This increases your gratitude quotient.

Gratitude makes for better health and longevity. There is no replacement for gratitude.

Art Deco Coloring book

Copy of my Art Deco Coloring book.

Yet I can’t be too hard on coloring book illustrators. I happen to be one!

The Buck Stops Here

Art Deco Coloring book

Buy Splash and Color on sale on Etsy.

My Etsy Artflorida bookstore is now open! What a surprise I felt when I received the congratulatory  email from Etsy.

Doubtful it would open after many tries with Amazon, I had shrugged  my emotional shoulders and given up. If it don’t fit don’t force it I told my son. Something I would have never told him as a child. At one time in my life I wondered if my persistence was a disguise for stubbornness. But now I sometimes give up without a thought or fight. Sometimes God closes doors I reason. But I wonder if it is just an excuse and not predestination.

I recently asked my daughter why she and her siblings are so dogged about everything. Whenever I ask them to do something they dig their hills in until it is done. Even if I decide to change my mind they will proceed on the same course until the task is done. I could never understand it until my daughter said “Mom, you taught us never to give up.” And I thought they never listened to anything I say.


Painting in perspective

I used perspective in my painting “Lessons from a Plant.”

Artists Georges Seurat and Josef Albers used math to reach new heights of artistic creativity. They harnessed the left sides of their brains to power their creativity.

Until a little while ago I was uncomfortable with the left side of my brain. To me it represented something that would hinder my creativity. But as I began doing cityscapes, I realized how my left brain was enhancing my abilities as an artist. It helped me to analyze and compare— two important skills that successful artists implore. I began seeing my left brain as an asset.  Liabilities and assets. Plus and minuses. These are everyday analytical terms that I had once shunned.

“The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!”

And I cannot say to the left brain I don’t need you! Biblical wisdom for art.


The Wolfsonian Museum at South Beach.

The Wolfsonian Museum at South Beach.

P is for propaganda and patriotism. It’s not exactly the cute title of one of the recently discovered manuscripts by Dr. Seuss.

Propaganda and patriotism is the subject of the library exposition at the Wolfsonian Museum in Miami Beach through March 31. It explores the use of “Educational pamphlets, coloring books, nursery rhyme books, games, and juvenile literature (that) were published to reach young audiences…“ during World War I.

Children were also targeted by the Nazis during World War II. Hitler’s Jugend (youth) movement indoctrinated youth who were forced to join. Those with approved blood lines were considered a vital part of the Nazi movement.

A recent chilling video by ISIL claims to show a child gunning down a Palestinian. The terrorist group refers to these children as “cubs for the caliphate.”

From books to guns, we’ve come a long way.


Imagine a little boy at the grocery store puzzled by the etchings on someone’s arm. He turns and asks his mother what this means. This is not about a child of today but a child born maybe in the 1950’s who grew up in South Beach and sees numbers etched on some one’s arm that had been a victim of the Nazi concentration camp.

My Miami Beach Art Deco workshop for my “Splash and Color” coloring book is about the people and the buildings of South Beach. Buildings were made by people—for people. Without them both there is no story to tell.

A sign posted to save the Coral Rock House.

A sign posted to save the Coral Rock House.

As I looked over my planned Art Deco workshop, I saw that it did not include the true history of the buildings. I became aware of the blanks after attending a “Learning through the Holocaust” workshop. When presented with more information and the true story of this young boy, I began to wonder who the residents of the buildings were. Some were obviously immigrants from the Holocaust. But did they come directly from Europe or the US. What was their story?

The Coral Rock House before restoration.

The Coral Rock House before restoration.

I knew and read on the Greater Miami Jewish Federation’s website that many of the buildings in the Miami Beach Art Deco District of the 1930s and 1940s were designed, built and operated by Jews. I knew Barbara Capitman, a Jew, started the Miami Design Preservation League that established the Art Deco District and that the residents of the buildings were mostly elderly. Yet, so many of my questions remained unanswered.

The Coral Rock House after restoration.

The Coral Rock House after restoration.


Book Wisdom from a Five Year Old

When faced with an unfamiliar project it is common to seek a subject matter expert for guidance. When I began the task of illustrating my Miami Beach Art Deco coloring book, I sought the advice of my five year old grandson. As I worked on my thumbnail sketches, he noted “Grammy, books have spines.” This was the first of his insightful remarks.

When I came back with my drawings he noted, “You don’t have any people in it. You need to draw some kids doing fun things.” “Well, I do see people walking their dogs…” “Yes, what about a parachute…this sky looks empty.” “I don’t see parachutes at South Beach but I do see para sails.” “What’s that?” he inquired.

Not sure that I could explain it, I drew a sketch. “Cool!” he replied. “I guess I could draw some clouds in the sky,” I offered.
“I want to draw on this robot.” I decided to include dashed lines for tracing instead of making it a static object. “This building needs something.” “I did leave out some windows,” I explained. So much for my first edit…

edited drawing of the Breakwater Hotel, Miami Beach Florida.

Young editor’s notes om my drawing of the Breakwater Hotel, Miami Beach, Florida.

drawing of the Wrestler sculpture.

Notes of the revisions needed for the “Wrestler” drawing. The original sculpture by Dudley Vaill Talcott can be found in the FIU-Wolfsonian in Miami Beach, Florida.

I literally went back to the drawing board and returned with the changes he suggested. “Where’s the parachute?” he insisted. “Well, I drew clouds instead.” He wasn’t impressed and maybe a bit disappointed. Still, he said it was much better than before.
“These kids need helmets on their heads. They could get hurt!” “But they look so much cooler without the helmets,” I protested. “These kids need helmets!” “Alright,” I agreed.

“What should I do about the front of the book? I’ve seen a mermaid on a building I could draw.” “No, because people will think it is just for girls.”
“What should be the ages for the coloring book?” “Four to nine year olds. Little kids ‘scribble and scrabble’ and I’ve seen nine year olds color.”

“What should I call it?” “Teen Coloring book.” “Do you know what a teen is? “No!” “Well, I’m not calling it that.” I decided on “Splash and Color” without telling him. My ego had taken enough beatings.

Finished Drawing of the "Wrestler".

The finished drawing of ” The Wrestler”.


The finished version of my coloring book, “Splash and Color.”

A few weeks later, I returned with what I hoped would be the final edit. “Good job, Grammy. I am proud of you,” he beamed. “Wow! Thanks grandson.” Now to get it printed I thought…
As I read the publisher’s guidelines, I breathed a sigh of relief. My grandson had prepared me well.