From Books

Books Cristina Acosta has written, illustrated and/or contributed to

Paint Happy by Cristina Acosta

Paint Happy! Learn to Paint Art Book by Cristina Acosta

Learn to paint with acrylics and draw with the ease of a child, regardless of your age and experience with my book, Paint Happy! It’s been years since North Light Books published it in 2002 and again in 2004. You can still find copies on Amazon. Painting is an old craft, therefore despite changes in materials available, many of the techniques used today are similar to painting and drawing techniques human-kind has used for thousands of years. So — Paint Happy! is  still relevant. Yea! It’s also makes learning to paint fun and easy to start. Making art is a spiritual practice as well as a physical activity, so it won’t always be easy. I’m not going to lie. It can be a schlep. It’s been both for me – easy and flowing as well as tedious, scary and frustrating. Overall, it’s the joy of my life.

Are you encouraged to paint?  Here’s the introduction from my book, Paint Happy! My daughter is now in college and we are both making art. Life has been good.

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Paint Happy! Introduction by Cristina Acosta:

I painted for many years before I realized that I was chasing a myth. Somewhere along the way, I came to believe that to become a good artist, I needed to acquire an ever increasing knowledge of methods and techniques. My attention to technique garnered me a job as the production artist for a billboard company.

After a couple of years painting billboards, I could copy any image given to me in any style, from simple cartoons to photo-realism. By that time, the holy grail of technique seemed disappointingly empty. I had given nearly all of my attention to developing the skill to paint whatever I wanted and very little attention to discovering what I really wanted to paint.

For a few years, I taught college drawing and painting classes. While the students gained “the basics” I noticed that for most of them, consistent academic study didn’t seem to encourage innate joy and enthusiasm for painting. I knew that if I didn’t teach any basics my students would be adrift, eventually becoming frustrated by their lack of ability to correctly mix the colors they needed or to understand what they saw in a painting. I thought that there must be some way to teach artistic skills without getting in the way of a student’s unique vision of the world.

Surprisingly, my epiphany came with the experience of motherhood. By the time my daughter, Isabella, was eighteen months old, she was painting every day with me. Watching her, I couldn’t help but notice that her experience of painting was entirely different form mine. She painted with complete abandon. She was never hard on herself. In fact, when she finished a painting that she really liked, she’d put her brush down and clap and cheer! If she didn’t like, it, she quickly pushed it aside and moved on! She never tried to paint like anyone else (especially her mother!).
Whenever Isabella finished a painting, she would show it to me. I’d look at the piece and very clearly tell her what I admired about it. Her natural style of learning augmented with my minimal positive insights enabled her to learn quickly and define her won style.
During Isabella’s toddler years, I was so inspired by her obvious happiness while creating that I decided to take an hour or so each day and paint in the same fashion. The more I opened my mind to painting with the attitude of a child–albeit a very “experienced” child! – the more my work evolved. Within a few months, my style of painting had completely changed. My work flowed so naturally that the images seemed to paint themselves. I became passionately excited to rediscover that creating could be so simple. My images reflected my joy, and “paint happy” was born! Learning to paint happy was the key that opened my creative soul.
Whether you’re a new painter or an experienced artist looking for new energy in your work, you will enjoy learning to paint happy. My book guides you to connect with your playful inner spirit while you learn the basics needed to become technically proficient.
I don’t intend for you to permanently paint images in my style. My style is the result of my particular life experiences. You may wish to copy my exercises as closely as possible, then taking what you’ve learned, immediately create an image of your own. With practice, your innate sense of design and personal style will develop.

So open this book and enter a world of color. Follow along with your paintbrush in hand, and chapter by chapter the beauty of the world around you and within you will be revealed through your painting.
Enjoy and Happy Creating,

Cristina

Paint Happy is out of print. Used copies of Paint Happy by Cristina Acosta are available on Amazon

  • Paperback: 110 pages
  • Publisher: North Light Books; 2 editions (August 2002) (2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1581801181
  • ISBN-13: 978-1581801187
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 8.5 x 0.4 inches
When Woman Became the Sea Hispanic Childrens Book illustrated by Latina artist Cristina Acosta

When Woman Became the Sea, Hispanic Latino Children’s Book

Hispanic or Latino children’s books actually written or illustrated by a Latino/a in the U.S. during the 1990s were rare birds. Though the Hispanic population of the United States was quickly becoming the dominant subculture, not a lot in the arts, design and decor fields reflected that fact. Fortunately, forward-thinking Anglos that were already positioned in the publishing world took notice and did their part. The owners and staff and writers at Beyond Words Publishing in the 1990s were those people.

During the time writer, Susan Strauss was putting together her new book based on a Costa Rican Creation story, she happened to be seated next to me at the brunch of a mutual friend. Our conversation turned to her story and by the time we were done with our meal we had a plan to present to her publisher, Beyond Words. Our plan was accepted and I joined the team as the Latina illustrator.

Though that doesn’t sound like a big deal now that time has passed, it was then. I was so excited. Not only did I get to make a contribution as an artist and mother (my daughter was five at the time,”When Woman Became the Sea,” was published), I got the personal satisfaction of being a published Latina. It was very gratifying. I don’t care for cultural appropriation. Despite the best of intentions when bringing Hispanic products to market, when all of the names attached to the products are Anglo or culturally divergent, it can come across as appropriation.

The book has long since sold out and you can only get copies on Amazon, I am still very proud of the project. The beautiful marriage between Susan Strauss’ elegant writing, the typesetting and my illustrations is holding up well.

Here’s a few of the reviews for “When Woman Became the Sea”: 

“A lovely creation myth from Costa Rica is retold in read-aloud rhythm and illustrated with gorgeous, tropical paintings.  Sound effects are indicated by the waving, explosive typeface that will inspire dramatic story hours.  The rich colors and vivid patterns of Acosta’s illustrations echo Latino pottery and design, making this an irresistible package.”

Kirkus Reviews, September 1998

“Acosta illustrates the tale with swirling, thick-lined tropical scenes in which form takes second place to vibrant, emphatic color.  The eye-catching visuals. . . and the author’s natural-sounding language. . . make the tale a promising candidate for reading aloud.”
Booklist, October 1998

“When Woman Became the Sea; A Costa Rican Creation Myth recounts an allegory of the intertwined origins of trees and water in the interplay between Thunder and Sea.”
Bookman’s Weekly, November 1998

“Strauss is a storyteller and her colloquial, rhythmic narrative just begs to be read or told aloud.  The vivid acrylic illustrations make the most of strong shapes, swirling brush strokes and clean blocks of color to create a primitive style emboldened by a sense of movement, perfect for a myth about making and doing.  The page layout is excellent, with spiraled, script like print balancing and enhancing the kinetic look of the artwork.”
School Library Journal, February 1999

When Woman Became the Sea Hispanic Childrens Book illustrated by Latina artist Cristina Acosta
When Woman Became the Sea Hispanic Childrens Book illustrated by Latina artist © Cristina Acosta

When Woman Became the Sea.  By Susan Strauss    Illustrated By Cristina Acosta

Published Fall 1998, Beyond Words Publishing, Inc. Hillsboro, Oregon    ISBN# 1-885223-85-4

Though out of print, used copies may be found on Amazon.
Original paintings (acrylic on paper) are available for sale and/or exhibits. Contact Cristina with your request.

Bedwetting and Accidents Aren't Your Fault, Why potty accidents happen and how to make them Stop, By Steven Rogers with Suzanne Schlosberg, illustrated by Cristina Acosta

Illustrating Children’s Books

Hispanic Childrens Book illustrated by Latina artist Cristina Acosta“Acosta illustrates the tale with swirling, thick-lined tropical scenes in which form takes second place to vibrant, emphatic color.  The eye-catching visuals. . . and the author’s natural-sounding language. . . make the tale a promising candidate for reading aloud.”
Booklist, October 1998

Growing up the oldest child in a family of seven children, books were my salvation. I could open a book and shut out the rest of the world. Reading was not only my way to lose myself, it led me to find myself.
As a very young child I remember  staring at the images in books, imagining myself in those worlds. As I grew up, I continually read to my younger siblings, often memorizing entire books, especially my favorite Dr. Seuss titles. I feel such gratitude to the artists and writers that crafted the beautiful and expansive words and pictures that were those books. They led me to my life as an artist and writer.

Illustrating books was on my life list, and something that I enjoy doing.

When I became a  mother, it was important to me to contribute to a book that would influence my daughter’s life. Susan Strauss wrote When Woman Became the Sea, a Hispanic creation story (based on myths from the indigenous people of Costa Rica), and I illustrated it. When I read my dedication of  that book to my daughter I feel gratitude and pride to be a member of the group of authors and illustrators that have so positively influenced generations of children.

See my art book Paint Happy! (North Light Books ©2002, 2004) for examples of my art and instruction concepts.

Paint Happy, art instructional how to paint book by artist Cristina Acosta, ©2002, 2004, North  Light Books
Paint Happy, art instructional how to paint book by artist Cristina Acosta, ©2002, 2004, North Light Books

To explore writing and/or illustrating your own Children’s literature check out the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators SCBWI.

When Woman Became the Sea (Beyond Words Publishing, Hillsboro, OR©1998) is out of print. You may be able to find a used copy on Amazon.

Paint Happy by Cristina Acosta

Artist Cristina Acosta Teaches Students How to Paint Happy

More than technique, more than practice Cristina tries to remind beginners that being

creative involves a mind-set. “It’s about being generous with yourself and putting yourself in alignment with the largest creative energy in the world. It is amazing, but that energy will flow right through you.” 

Cristina Acosta, quoted in Paint Decor Magazine, Winter 2004

Painting encourages creativity and intuition
Painting encourages creativity and intuition

I began teaching at an early age, teaching skiing and swimming at the local mountain resort in Southern California when I was a teenager. As I grew in my artistry, I taught a variety of art classes and workshops, including a five year stint teaching drawing and painting classes at Central Oregon Community College, in Bend, Oregon.

Currently I look at my articles and books as the main method with which I continue to teach. Occasionally, I will teach a week-long workshop. I usually base the curriculum on my book Paint Happy! , though I have taught

Sidewalk Chalk Kids Art Class by Cristina Acosta
Art Festival chalk art for kids event led by Cristina

some workshops introducing students to the Hispanic art of the Ex-Voto Retablo — a form of art used to express gratitude.
I also enjoy giving presentations to organizations. In the past I’ve taught sessions at Maryhill Museum of Art in Washington State and for various arts organizations .

  • You are welcome to contact me regarding teaching for your organization.
  • If you are not representing an organization and would like me to teach you over the phone and internet, we can set up a plan and the price.
Bedwetting and Accidents Aren't Your Fault, Why potty accidents happen and how to make them Stop, By Steven Rogers with Suzanne Schlosberg, illustrated by Cristina Acosta

Illustrating the Children’s Book: Bedwetting and Accidents Aren’t Your Fault

Working with author Suzanne Schlosberg and Dr. Steve Hodges illustrating this medical children’s book about bedwetting and potty accidents was a stimulating creative collaboration that was also a lot of fun. I worked directly with Suzanne for a few months, coming up with the right visual images for text about a difficult and visually awkward subject – potty accidents.

Suzanne and Dr. Hodges hired me to create a hand painted series of illustrations that would be visually happy and friendly while instructing children about the medical problem of bedwetting and potty accidents. Dr. Hodges connects medical research about constipation in children to bedwetting and potty accidents. His protocols have been very popular with parents and children. One of the books goals is to take the shame and secrecy out of the subject and let kids know there is treatment and a cure.

I loved the artistic and creative challenges of this book and working with the author, Suzanne was a pleasure. We had a lot of interesting discussions about pee and poop, cultures around the world, medical illustrations and procedures. Working on a book that will change lives positively was a gift.

The original paintings are a mixture of acrylic and watercolor paints on Rives BFK 100% cotton paper with graphite and pen.

Bedwetting and Accidents Aren’t Your Fault: How Potty Accidents Happen and How to Make Them Stop, Perfect Paperback – November 24, 2014, by Steve Hodges (Author), M.D. (Author), Suzanne Schlosberg, Illustrated by Cristina Acosta

Read more about potty and bedwetting accident protocols at Dr. Rodgers’ site, It’s No Accident.