(only for the curious)

Those of you who are curious to know what kind of predilections artists might have, will enjoy reading the following trivia. Perhaps if might help you figure out what goes inside an artistic mind or what personal influences are reflected in their artwork. If you are like me, you may find artists to be amusing creatures. This is more so if, since birth, the artist shows signs of being both ADHD and gifted. I certainly find John to be a work in progress. But first, a word of caution: don't try to figure him out. It can really drive you up a wall. -msp

Painting Habits:

          John learned and practice painting using Crayola™ crayons and non-toxic tempera colours (yes, the same six-jar pack most children use in school). His cartoons are still done in tempera. He used acrylics for the first time when he did his first painting, a mural. When speed and bright colours is of the essence, he uses acrylic paints. He was introduced to oils at the Cleveland Institute of Art. They immediately became his medium of choice. With oils, he favours a limited palette to concentrate more on values. For smaller paintings, he works on canvas, but prefers the smooth surface of masonite panels.

          Like many artists, John hates math (geometry is the only exception) and has some eccentric habits. The most obvious one is that he paints mainly at night. The only time he paints during daylight is when he works on exterior murals. He paints with either hand, even though he is general right handed. As an artist, John shares common traits with other artists. But, the one thing that John does not share is an interest in the act of painting. He laments his habit of procrastinating before the commencement of a new commission due to this fact. And before he can get started, John always follows the following ritual: he cleans his whole house spotless.

          When painting, John takes a lot of breaks, paints while listening to books on tape or romantic music, snacks constantly, and is addicted to coffee (mountain-grown Puerto Rican). He always buys the best quality materials and equipment. His favourite art supplier is Utrecht ( Other favourite artists of his are Jean August Dominique Ingres and Jean León Gérôme (French), Ken Davies (American), Norman Rockwell (American), Lord Frederick Leighton (British) and Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema (Dutch-British). His favorite female artists are Artemisia Gentilleschi (Italian) and contemporary siren, Tamara de Lempicka (Polish).


          John laments that he can not afford his taste and that his ambitions greatly exceed his resources. While his lifestyle is simple, his tastes are eclectic but selective. His personal preferences reflect scholarly inclinations with very limited interest in material luxuries. He cares little for things such as jewellery, cars, sports or the latest fashions. But he does favour travel, good restaurants, interesting conversation, and dressing up when the role requires it. He does have good table manners and can order food in four languages (Spanish, English, French, and Italian). He only curses in English!

Working Style:

           John is hyperactive and likes to work simultaneously on several tasks. As a rule, he prefers to perform a task for no more than four hours. He may work on a canvas, switch to a computer game, then pick up a book, next a pen for some creative writing, and finally, back to get back to painting. However, he tries to keep all these activities related to the subject he may be working at the time.

          His sleeping patterns are erratic; he normally sleeps when he wants to sleep. Sometimes four hours is enough, while sleeping for twenty hours or so happens on ocassion. This drove his parents crazy, especially because he works mostly during the night. His father used to turn off the electrical power to John's room in order to deprive him of light (and hopefully get him to go to sleep). But this practice did not work as John would resort to moonlight and mirrors for illumination.

          John has very little tolerance for activities that he considers irrelevant, but he does become a master of those that keep his interest. In fact, he is a master of many skills and subjects. When a particular problem truly engages his attention, he can focus his concentration and energies for long periods of time, sometimes working for over twenty-four hours non-stop. Once a challenge has been mastered, he looses interest and finds something else to do. He hates to repeat anything he perceives as dull.

          It goes without saying that John is not a typical "nine-to-five" kind of guy. But he gets things done and done well -his way. To meet his self-imposed standards, he works with admirable intensity, discipline, and dedication.


          His idea of a perfect vacation is going native in some foreign country and getting to know the locals. A couple of weeks of relaxation in a tropical heaven makes him want to shoot himself. After all, he grew up in paradise, but his restless spirit craves action. John works in a social atmosphere, but prefers solitude and does not frequent the social scene. Unless he is there for a purpose, crowds make him uneasy. He does have a flair for doing things his way (and getting into trouble) and for keeping his personal affairs private, particularly his romantic life.


          John's children are the centre of his life. He jealously guards their privacy and rarely involves them in his career. His son "Alex" is now married to a lovely girl named Katie, and they have a beautiful son named Samuel Andres; John calls him "Sandro." When John announced to his theatre colleagues that he now had a grandson, what followed the silence was the question: "You got kids?" Once asked about how it felt to be a grandfather, John replies: "I don't know; I was just getting the hang of fatherhood." Early this year (2005) Alex will be leaving for the Air Force. Beautiful Selina is in her second year at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. She is studying to be in the medical profession. John lives with his brother Ricky Nelson, a technician at the NASA Lewis-Glen Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio.

Selina Marie Rivera-Espendez John Alexander Rivera-Espendez

Samuel Andrés Rivera-Myer Miss Nancy Anne Lewis

2008 update-

Selina is president of one of her college sororities and beginning a post graduate school for a master in Hospital Administration;

Alex was let go from the Air Force due to a physical impairment (he is fine but no long marches for him). He is back in school;

five year-old Sandro talks –and talks... when he manages to stands still for a second;

John's parents -Mr. Johnny Rivera and Mrs. Jesusa Resto, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary among family and friends (December 5, 2007);

And John is… engaged! -the result of Miss Nancy Lewis’ long-term planning and well played strategy. Still, no wedding date (there is a betting pool).


          John's hobbies include travelling, stage fighting, computer strategy games, reading (historical books & biographies are favoured) and foreign films. He also likes to sing (Spanish gospel hymns) and greatly enjoys listening to a selective mix of artists. The Julio Iglesias version of Starry Night and the Andrea Bocelli-Marta Sanchez duo Vivo Per Lei are two of his favorites. His enjoys romantic ballads (in any language), classic movie themes and Vivaldi.

          His favorite singers are Andrea Bocelli (Italy), Camilo Sesto (Spain), Danny Rivera (Puerto Rico), Kenny Rogers and Nat King Cole (USA). Favorite female singers are Barbra Streisand and Celine Dion. He would marry either one just so that they could sing to him in the morning. His latest artist of choice is Josh Groban. John comments, "Finally, after series of cloned singers that sound like chipmunks, and a horde of tasteless-screaming men presenting themselves with a bevy of semi-nude women who under normal circumstances would not approach them with a ten-foot pole, a new singing star with the elegance and the virile voice of a man has risen".

2005 update-

John has added a new musical group to his list of favourites: Amici Forever. He is an avid fan of Nick Garrett, founding member of the group.

2006 update-

John's new favourite musical group: Il Divo.


          When it comes to movie stars he favours Hollywood legends like Spencer Tracy, Humphrey Bogart and Cary Grant. Errol Flynn was the role model of his early youth. Presently, actors Annette Bening and Russell Crowe are at the top of his list. Other favorites are Peter O'toole and Brian Blessed (UK), Jean Reno (France), Pedro Infante (Mexico), Shintaro Katsu (Japan), Chow Yun-Fat and Jackie Chan (Hong Kong). Favourite movie directors are Akira Kurosawa, Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Spielberg, John Woo, Takeshi Kitano, Jean Renoir, Ridley Scott and Orson Welles. Favourite movies: Excalibur by John Boorman, Valmont by Milos Forman and Lawrence of Arabia by David Lean. The Elephant Man always makes him cry.


          He particularly enjoys reading anything by Colleen McCullough, Mary Doria Russell, Elizabeth Peters, Robert Ludlum, and Alexander Dumas. Autobiographies are his favourite bedtime reading. The only audio-book he has listened to five times is: Dave Barry does Japan (it never fails to make him laugh). Most boring books to read: almost anything on art criticism (take a Valium an hour before reading). His favourite play: Life is a Dream, by Pedro Calderón de la Barca. Second favourite play: Cyrano de Bergerac, by Edmond Rostand. His personal theme song is (though, he won't admit to it): Nobody does it better, from one of the James Bond movies.


          He watches Peter Jennings -religiously. His other television fare consist of programs on Public television (PBS), The View, Classic Star Trek, and a weekly diet of Batman-Superman animated series, Nash Bridges, Friends, Just Shoot Me, That 70's Show and Will and Grace. Since he works during most of the show times, he tapes the programs for later viewing. Late night choices will depend on who will be the guest appearing on Jay Leno, David Letterman, Ted Koppel, or Politically Incorrect. Most asked TV related question: Are you related to Geraldo Rivera?

2005 update-

Like millions of viewers worldwide, John was deeply saddened by the untimely death of Mr. Peter Jennings. When asked what his fascination with Peter was, John replied: -"I learned English watching Peter Jennings, he was my daily language lesson, and in time, it felt that he was one of the family. I used to watch him together with my newborn daughter, Selina, and we continued this family ritual until she left for college. She send me a thoughtful message as soon as she heard of Peter's passing. There will never be another like him; we will miss him terribly."

Likes and Dislikes:

          Three things John avoids are weddings, hospitals and funerals. He has already attended too many. Least favorite things: rap (music?), attraction park rides (motion sickness), sailing (he can't swim), flavoured coffees (he likes coffee to taste like coffee), and a room full of kids. Favourite food: Caribbean cuisine (but he eats anything except for hot-spicy foods). Favourite colour: Yellow. Taste in women: intelligent ones. His definition of Viagra: Puerto Rican hormones. Childhood crush: Sophia Loren -made him want to learn Italian (among other things). Later crush: Linda Carter. Present fantasy: Sophia Loren (you just can't improve on a classic).


          First impressions of him seem always to be in the extreme; you either love him or hate him. Those he comes into contact through his work find him to be a fascinating person. His angular looks and confident manner make him stand out in any crowd. He can speak well about a myriad of subjects with his frankness of opinion that both delight and anguish his listeners. Acquaintances call him anything from a genius to a ruthless bastard - it depends on what side of the fence they stand. His friends call him a friend for life - dependable, caring and protective through times both good and bad. However, part of his mysterious appeal seems to emanate from certain inconsistencies about him which suggest secrets that few have been privy to.

Words To Live By:

          Things that scare him: insects, water deeper than four feet, people who have no business owning a firearm, and marriage. He has an aversion for pessimistic attitudes, any form of fanaticism, and people's lack of taste. He also hates his looks but learned to compensate for his deficiencies. His most treasured words of wisdom are, from his father: "if your boss tells you to lift a building, don't say you can't. Go grab it by a corner and try your best to do it."; From his mother: "no one is so poor as not to have water to bathe and wash their clothes, or thread and needle to mend them."; From a country preacher: "kiss and hug your children everyday as if it were the last time you would see them".

2006 update-

          In the fall of 2004 John had an automobile accident while left him with a daily legacy of chronic pain. He is suffering from arthritis of the spine on his lower back and damage cartilage on his right knee. At the time of the accident, a statement was issued to the fact that John was very much alive, and not killed as many believed.

          Most of 2005 was a battle to improve his condition. It was painful and uncomfortable to be seated even for a short time or to lay down for a good night's rest. Medically, nothing could be done because of the nature of his injuries. John refused to follow his doctor's advice of taking shots to relieve the back pain because he argued that this would only mask the pain, not address the cause of the pain. Instead he went on a self-imposed regiment of exercise and dieting to strenghten his back muscles and to relieve the strain on his spine.

          John's daily exercise routine is as follows: he relaxes his back by hanging upside-down on an inversion table (which holds his weight by the ankles). This helps reduce back stress by relieving pressure on vertebrae disks and ligaments. It also helps fight compression fatigue, increases body flexibility to improve physical performance. Some even claim that this type of treatment helps reduce the effects of aging due to gravity.

          After five minutes of “hanging” to relax, John does exercises using free weights while still hanging upside-down. This way he does not cause further injury to his spine. After six months of this exercise routine, he added crunches to work his lower back and abdominal muscles. He also cut back on the amount of food he eats (to compensate for his lower level of activity), switching many of his meals to homemade soups. By the beginning of 2006 John’s back pain had ease considerably and has managed to maintain his body in great shape. To increase body flexibility even further, he does a Pilates exercise routine three times a week.

          During 2005 John was unable to take big painting projects -he may avoid them completely in the future. He also took time out from working development on his film project for the time being. Instead, he concentrated on teaching. During the spring and early summer of 2006 he gave a series of very popular lectures on art history, art philosophy, and mural painting at the Eastern and the Western campus of the Cuyahoga Community College in Beachwood and in Parma, Ohio.

          Presently During the fall of 2006, John resumed most of his previous responsibilities as film producer, has begun working on several painting and design commissions, and is planning to lecture in the spring of 2007. While he lives with daily pain, other than using a cane on rare occasions, he has resumed his former lifestyle -within reason. His sense of humour remains intact.

John's parents -el Señor Johnny Rivera y la Señora Jesusa Resto during their Golden Wedding Anniversary

2008 update I-

          In 2008 had begun with much uncertainty. While 2007 was a busy year (read 'current work -2007' in the 'Current works' page for further details), John is at a crossroad in his life. Age is a factor -he will turn 50 this year; disillusionment is another. Coming to terms with the fact that one cannot maintain the level of physical engagement that defined his former lifestyle has not been an easy adjustment. Recognizing that he may not be able to achieve some of the goals he set for himself during the previous years is a troubling prospect. "I feel time is passing me by and I have accomplished nothing" -is he current gripe.

          John is not a believer in luck or wishful expectations. He is a man too centred on reality. All he has achieved has been through hard work, grace and perseverance, many times going against naysayer’s who doubted his remarkable talents, ingenuity, and (some say malevolent) ability to turn things around to his advantage. He is a fighter and a survivor with an insatiable appetite for taking on creative challenges. He is a risk taker. This is his nature -and no doubt a great part of his appeal.

          What this year holds for John is anyone's guess. He completed all his commissions in November of 2007 and then stopped. After spending time in Puerto Rico with the family, he plans to use the first few months of this year involved in construction and remodelling of his new place (a couple of apartments for him and his brother Ricky and a shop/studio). Brute labour has been a refuge where he can keep his body in motion while his mind works out new strategies to move forward. It is both a healing process and a period of adjustment. In spite ailments, John looks many years younger than he is and maintaining this youthful vitality is an important key to plans. But alterations to ones lifestyle also require mental modifications -and this takes time. And so we wait and see what will happen when John emerges out into a new phase in his life.

2008 update II-

          In the Spring of 2008 John was invited to visit Indonesia. Visiting Asia had been on his mind for some time but the opportunity never materialized until now. Miss Jane Chen, founder and director or the arts organization OnStage, sponsored the trip and a series of lectures at BINUS University in Jakarta, the Indonesian Capital. While in the region John visited other countries, made many new friends, and explore exotic and exciting places. The journey was refreshing and invigorating, opening a whole new world of possibilities. Returning home after months of travel -and recapturing his youth, John set out with new plans in mind. For 2009 he hopes to visit the Middle East and learn to speak Arabic as well.

2008 update III-

          John has added a new artist to his limited selection of favourites: Vitas. 'Vitas' (Витас in Russian) is a young Russian pop singer, composer, actor and fashion designer. John says: -"Vitas is an absolute sensation; the complete entertainer. His art, which borders the realms of techno and the operatic, is the rarest brand of acquired tastes that will mesmerize you with his exceptional voice range and his magnetic stage presence.” Vitas, you have now your first Puerto Rican fan. Мои поздравления!

2010 update

El Señor John Rivera-Resto y la Señora Nancy Lewis de Rivera

          John is now a married man! On December, 10th, 2009, Miss Nancy Anne Lewis became Mrs. Rivera-Resto. To read more about it and see pictures of the wedding, go to the ‘Current Works’ page, the Design page, or the quick links and click on the ‘His Wedding Day’ entry.

2011 update I-

          Nancy and John returned to Puerto Rico to celebrate their first wedding anniversary! 2010 was a busy year for John. Doing the dome mural at the new Cuyahoga County Juvenile Justice Center, in Cleveland, Ohio, got him back to the scaffoldings in a big way. This was a big job and it brought back all his fine tuned skills for doing large-scale work. 2011 began with a new outlook about future projects. Being now a married man, means staying close to home. So his intention is to build up his career in and around the Cleveland area. Financially, this is not an ideal market, especially with the continuing economic wows being suffered in the region. But John enjoys challenges and his diversity of talents serve him well.

2011 update II-

          John had a fall and tore the ligaments of his left ankle -in addition to bruising two ribs. The dreaded Cleveland winter weather had outdone itself and one night in early March he slipped on black ice and fell hard on concrete. Oh well, that's life. But the lack of sun and bleak days made it hard to be upbeat about anything -especially when you have to move on crutches. Being home bound, John dedicated the time to write a year's worth of undates and correspondence from muralmaster (they had been accumulating for lack of time) and to do chores in the apartment -such as decorating the bathroom and bedroom from floor to ceiling (while standing on one leg)! He also spend time listening to some of his old favourites -mostly Fleetwood Mac and Queen, the latest James Blunt songs, and catching up on his reading. He also spend time with Nancy watching her favourite TV shows, which are 'On the road with Austin and Santino' and American Idol. John even cast some votes -for Casey Abrams! His favorite idol contestant still remains Adam Lambert . On his own, he enjoys watching Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations, and Andrew Zimmern's Bizarre Foods, on The Food Channel.

2011 update III-

          May 1st: John is off crutches -and the sun finally came out! The ankle is 90% healed. He hopes to complete the website updates by the end of the month.

2012 update -

          August: John is working on his second mural for the City of Cleveland. He began a collaboration with the city-sponsred 'Mural my neiborhood' program in the spring of 2012, with the goal of painting two giant 2000 square foot murals at two city locations (See current works page 2012 entry). Part of the program consisted of training two groups made each of 15 high school students to work as painting assitants. Unfortunately, due the unpredictable Cleveland weather that year, a third of the scheduled time was lost because of rain. So John will return in 2013 to complete the projects.-

          In addition to the two mural painting commissions, John became art consultant, displays and interior designer for the Panini's Bar & Grill franchise in Strongsville and Kent, Ohio (see Current Works page).


Muralmaster® is ‘an educational site’ privately sponsored and maintained. It contains no pop-ups, sales banners or advertisements. On average, people from over thirty countries routinely visit Muralmaster to enjoy the articles and admire the art. It is also a great learning tool. Aspiring artists and young students write to John for council and advice. In Muralmaster they get what they can’t get elsewhere: an intimate and sobering look into the struggles of an artistic mind and the difficult career-realities of being an artist.