“Sometimes I have to force myself to stop because I get so into it.” – Mr. Campos on painting

Mr. Campos is like many other artists; he spends hours thinking of an idea for a painting and sometimes gets so captivated by painting that he loses himself in it for hours at a time. He often paints at night because he still has a job during the day, so most of his free time falls in the night time. Getting inspiration for a painting is not difficult for Mr. Campos. He comes from a background of hardships and struggles and is able to channel the emotions he felt during those hard times, into thought-provoking pieces. For his politically geared paintings, he draws upon his own experiences and the experiences of other immigrants to show those back in Mexico who are thinking about immigrating or those in the United States who are not fully supportive of immigrants, the hardships and challenges that an immigrant must go through to finally reach the better life they have been yearning for. For his anthropological paintings, he chooses one of the many books that line the bookshelves in his house, and thumbs through the pages for notable and recognizable symbols or patterns that he wishes to recreate. Once he has been inspired through one of these ways, he starts the process of actually creating on canvas.

Mr. Campos says that he often sketches geometric shapes on his canvas before beginning to paint. The canvas that is being sketched below is going to be a smaller version of the fully done painting seen below it. These geometric shapes are inspired by the process that muralists use. He learned this by watching muralists in cities such as Los Angeles (where he spent few before coming to North Carolina), and by actually working alongside mural painters.

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These geometric lines and sketches will help Mr. Campos bring the painting to life once the color is added. Aspects of mural paining can be seen in the larger version below.
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For paintings that are not as large, and do not contain as much detail, Mr. Campos does not need to sketch geometric shapes beforehand. Instead, he paints in layers, or stages, to get the desired look.  This can be seen below, where he gradually adds detail to the monarch butterflies.

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“Its more relaxing because I don’t have to think about certain topics that I’m trying to convey.” – Mr. Campos on painting flowers.

Flowers often find their way into Mr. Campos’ painting; he also has paintings that are just flowers, like the one below. When asked what significance the flowers had for him, he answered that he simply found painting them to be relaxing. When comparing his flower paintings to his politically themed pieces, he said that in the former he does not have to think as much to make sure that he conveys certain topics and ideas. It does help him keep up his technique, though, because of the small detailing required.

Floral painting in the Mexican consulate
Floral painting in the Mexican Consulate in Raleigh, N.C.

For his paintings that are more anthropologically themed, we already know that he develops his inspiration from books. Painting these pieces requires immense detail and precision. He has a few paintings, like the one pictured below, that feature bright and detailed shapes over a black background. To make sure that the more detailed parts have sharp lines, he first paints the colored parts and then adds the black background roughly around them. He can then go in with a smaller brush and make sure the black does not overlap or interfere with the shapes within the circle.


The colors are then made more vibrant and saturated throughout the creative process, until the final product looks like this.


Overall, Mr. Campos is an artist who takes inspiration from his own life experiences, and the experiences of other immigrants, to create art that makes a statement and makes people think deeply. He also explores anthropological symbols in history books to recreate familiar patterns and symbols with his own style. Both of these kinds of paintings have captured the eyes and hearts of his community and beyond.