Category: Charity


What is confidence? How do you obtain it? Better yet, how do you teach it? Good questions. All with varying or even elusive answers. We all struggle with it at times. Some more than others and seemingly there are those who have obtained all the confidence in the world.

As an artist I often struggle with confidence. Not so much in my abilities, more in my confidence in surviving in the vast wprld of artists. I am but a speck in a huge sea of talent and creativity. How do I shine? How do I stand out? How do I get noticed? Yet at the same time I do what I can to not dwell on that much. It is a waste of time for my thoughts and energy to waste away on that which really is not realistic. If we all thought, “Well, there are an awful lot of artists out there, I don’t see myself succeeding. So I am not going to be an artist.” That then is an admission of defeat from the beginning.


“Opportunity” By Natasha Myrick

I believe in persistence. I have been persistent for several years. Putting my work out there. Growing, bettering myself, posting, blogging, etc. I could have easily given up based on feedback or the lack thereof on my Facebook posts, Google + posts, etc. If I were to compare myself to others, then I should quit. I should throw in the towel based on the numbers.

Don’t look at the numbers, don’t look at the stats! They mean nothing! What matters? If you are posting something, your art, a photograph, your passions, then that means you believe in that. You enjoy, love, what you do and you post it. What matters is that you feel it is important. It mattered when you shared it with the world and it still matters! What matters to you is truly all that matters, do not forget that!

Had I given up, I would not have my work hanging at the amazing Incredible Artist Gallery  in Cathedral City, CA. Had I given up, I would not have met many amazing artists who today I call friends! Had I given up, I would not be writing this blog and you wouldn’t be reading it.

Had I given up, I would not have had the opportunity to mentor 14 year old Natasha Myrick. Due to my ties with the Incredible Artist Gallery, I was given an awesome experience to meet the Myrick family at the beautiful Colony 29 in Palm Springs, California. The Myricks were brought out here to California to give their 5 year old son Liam the experience of a lifetime. Liam was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma when he was only 3 years old. Needless to say the lives of the Myricks has been hectic, many ups and downs. Their time here in California was meant to create an up that would be part of their memories forever. For me it was a wonderful experience getting to meet all of them! Playing with Liam and his 8 year old sister Natalie. Watching them paint, play, swim, and simply enjoy life without worrying about anything for a few short days.

Look What I Did!

“A Proud Moment” Natasha proudly stands before her works at the Gallery 446 in Palm Springs, California. Image created by Paul W. Koester

A good portion of Liam, Natalie, and Natasha’s stay in Palm Springs was spent preparing for their very own art show at Gallery 446 in Palm Springs, California. Natalie and Liam created paintings to sell at the gallery to raise money for Liam’s medical expenses.

Natasha is the oldest of the Myrick siblings. She has not had it easy. With Liam’s numerous hospital visits, being the oldest means having the most responsibilities. She doesn’t live the typical life of a teenager, yet she doesn’t complain. She understands and loves her little brother. Yet through all of that there is a creative side to Natasha that strives to be revealed, it has been suppressed. I discovered that talent as I mentored Natasha and helped guide her in creating some pretty amazing photos.

The Light

“The Light” image created by Natasha Myrick

Grandma's Promise

“Grandma’s Promise” Image created by Natasha Myrick

Natasha's Reflection

“Natasha’s Reflection” Taken while on a photo walk in Palm Springs, California. Image created by Paul W. Koester

Here is where this whole thing comes full circle. How do you teach confidence? The moment Natasha and I picked up our cameras, Natasha began saying to me, “I can’t do this.” “I am not good enough.” Lots of negativity was sensed. It was strong enough that I thought to myself, “I am not going to be able to teach her.” How do you teach something to someone who is this critical of themselves? I knew some of her intimidation was derived from me. So instead of addressing her insecurities I had her shoot away. I lead by example and just started taking pictures of the surrounding area.  She asked questions and I answered. My words were simple to her, “just have fun”. In my opinion that is lesson number one with photography have fun, then learn, always have fun. Setting her mind at ease was important to me. Being overly critical of our inadequacies does very little to help improve ourselves. Recognizing them, yes, that is important, but then move on and work on improving. How do you improve? Well that is simple too. Look back at those things that intimidated you. Are they as intimidating now as they were back when you were first introduced to them? Did you improve? Chances are good you did. Due to that knowledge, now know that you can do that again, and again, and again.

Soon I saw a change in Natasha. I saw her relax. She began to enjoy being behind the camera. I watched her get lost in the moment. That’s the golden moment, getting lost, that is when you truly create. As you can see she created some amazing images that she has every right to be proud of. Together we edited the images and Natasha gave them titles that she felt from her heart. While Natasha was out getting ready for the gallery showing I went and had them printed and framed. The next time she saw her images, they were prominently hanging on the walls of Gallery 446. What a proud moment! I was proud of her as was everyone else, simply amazing!

Natasha's Creations

“Natasha’s Creations” Beautiful images created by Natasha Myrick hanging on the walls of the Gallery 446 in Palm Springs, California. Image created by Paul W. Koester

Paul and Natasha

Paul and Natasha at the Gallery 446 in Palm Springs, California. Image created by Rick Pantele

Believe Tree

“Believe Tree” an amazing and beautiful tree with words of encouragement, inspiration, and motivation written on it’s branches. Image and design created by Paul W. Koester

Believing in yourself is the key to confidence. It starts with us. If we don’t believe then how can others? Never underestimate yourself or doubt yourself! We all go through it and we all need to be reminded of our self worth. Chances are good others will not remind us of our self worth, we have to do it for ourselves. When others are down on themselves I do what I can to encourage them and remind them of how talented they are and how important they are. As an artist I know what it is like to be down and have those dark moments when things just seem like they are not coming together the way I would like. The doubts creep in, we all need reminders that we are better than that! We all need from time to time reminders that we need to BELIEVE IN OURSELVES!! The Believe Tree is a beautiful and amazing tree with words of encouragement, inspiration, and motivation written on its branches. It serves as a visual reminder that we can get through and overcome any challenge. Quite often that biggest challenge is convincing ourselves that we are good enough.

Beautiful Blue-Green Dragonfly


Imagine Dragons

A beautiful blue-green dragonfly sits perched sunning itself on a reed.

Every now and again it seems like when I post something  I begin to notice similar images showing up all over the place. It’s sort of like when you buy that new car, you think it is unique. Then when you drive it off the lot you begin to see it everywhere!! When I posted an image of some dragonflies I captured recently and posted it up on social media, I have since noticed that dragonfly season is in full effect 🙂 

Little Grad Picnic

The UCSD NICU Little Grad Picnic in San Diego, California.

I recently had the honor and privilege  to take part in the annual charity event for the UCSD Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) Little Grad Picnic. Where they celebrate the life of those who overcame the odds and obstacles of premature birth. Also honored were the nurses, doctors, and of course the parents. A signed 30″ x 20″ version of my image Imagine Dragons on metal was raffled off along with other donated items from various individuals or organizations. Hopefully the winner is very happy with their prize!!! 

Raffle_Image_SMThere were several people who I got to talk to that were very excited about this image. In particular one wonderful lady by the name of Angela Amoroso who wrote a book about her prematurely-born baby girl Isabella and their loss of her due to SIDS. She told me there are two symbols that are deeply important to her. One is the giraffe which represents Isabella. The other is the dragonfly, in particular this blue-green dragonfly seen in the image, which represents her dad. 

In her book Surrounded By Angels she dedicated an emotionally moving chapter to her dad titled Dragonfly Send Me Your Love. When her dad was determined to be terminal, she and her dad visited a church. The story in the sermon was about water-bugs and the metamorphosis that takes place. These particular water-bugs became a “beautiful blue green dragonfly“. After her father passed, part of her mourning and healing process was to visit an ashram in upstate New York where she describes a certain walk she went on.


Adorable “little grad” twins at the UCSD NICU Little Grad Picnic in San Diego, California.


Before long we were on a trail that brought us into a lush East Coast forest. The canopy was so green. Suddenly, I heard the sound of running water. I began to run, expecting to find a bubbling brook. I found the brook and a small walking bridge that crossed it. The bridge was brand new, made completely of raw wood. There was no finish on it at all. It felt as though a carpenter had just completed it in time for us to cross it and might be watching us from behind a tree to see if we liked it. I ran to the center of the bridge and to my surprise, I looked down and there were hundreds of beautiful delicate blue-green dragonflies hovering frantically over the water. Just like in the story, the water bug, now turned blue-green dragonfly, wanted so much to go back and tell his friends and family what had happened to him. The story jumped off the page and came to life for me, and so did my dad.” 


March Of Dimes

A girl wears a tee shirt supporting the March Of Dimes at the Little Grad Picnic.

I feel it is important we make connections in our life. Not just with people, but also ideas, emotions, and purpose. It took a lot of patience on my part to create this image. I created it to be unique, special, and meaningful for the event. To not only touch the child(ren) of the home that it eventually went to but to also be aesthetically pleasing to the adults. It never dawned on me that it would or could touch someone so deeply and have such incredible meaning. The title that I chose for this image was originally focused in on the mind of a child. How a child can imagine anything and it is truth to that child without a shadow of a doubt. Today the meaning of the image goes further and deeper. Now it means to me that in addition to what I imagine there is also this whole other level.  When other people see it, now they are adding their imagination to it as well. Had Angela not made her personal connection that the beautiful blue-green dragonfly was a representation of  her dad. In turn I would not have made the connection that there is an outside influence, an aura sort-of-speak of imagination outside my own. I wanted to make a great image to help a great charity. In doing that it became a story, a connection, and a life long lesson.

I also want to send out a BIG thanks to those who helped me chose this image for the raffle. From the beginning I felt this was the one and the votes from my family and friends helped confirm that. Thank you!!! 

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