2019: A Mindful Refresh

Hey-O!

My goodness. I’ve been away from writing for so long! I kinda miss the days when I carved out special time for self-reflection. Just to recap, for those of you who haven’t been following along on my art journey in other social media sites (FB/IG), the rest of 2018 from April to December was focused on my goal of stability, entrepreneurship, and serendipity. I think that as the months rolled by, it got easier to navigate the waters of self-sufficiency. I chose to prioritize setting up my private practice and placed my art business on the side, but still steadily holding the course.

This new year, I intend to shift my focus into the organization and foundation setup of my two small businesses. This busy bee keeps on buzzin’!

So I guess that leads me to begin with my art store and products.

I’ve slowly been freshening up the website with lots of new items, sprucing up the logo, and the visuals that initially greet my wonderful art lovers. I am hopeful that you are all able to come along with me on this continued journey towards self-development, learning, and change.

After some soul-searching, and inspiration drawn from my recent travel to Waco, Texas to stop by Chip & Joanna Gaines’s Magnolia market, I have decided to follow the path of serendipity to where my art was naturally moving towards. At first, I found myself highly resistant to the notion that my paintings could be transformed or adapted into other goods, such as home and work accessories. In all honesty, it initially pained me at times to think of my work as something that could be seen elsewhere aside from its original medium. It felt…like I was moving away from my goals of being a “real” artist. Whatever that means. And I hated the feeling. I began thinking that to expand my work into other products would begin to cheapen its value. And gosh, I hated admitting that to myself. I felt bad. I felt like I wasn’t a “good enough” artist that I had to get my work out there in different formats because it just didn’t reach the caliber of fame that I wanted it to. Man. That’s hard to write out.

But slowly, I let the idea simmer in my mind. And the best thing I could have ever done was to be open and share my worries with others around me. Fellow artists and business owners gave me new perspective that this new switchback down the road was not a bad thing. In fact, this was the beginnings of my business evolving into the next level. For my creative work to continue to grow, it has to change. For me to continue to sustain and engage current and new art lovers around the world, I have to look forward and innovate. I have to embrace change and what it means for my work. I have to continue to be comfortable with moving towards the unknown.

I thought at this age and time in my life, I wouldn’t have any more growing to do. But I guess we never cease to have the capacity to learn new things. And I think I’m okay with that. 🙂

Here are some of my latest additions to my new Mindful Desk collection:

What do you think? I’m happy with the new line of goods so far. These days, I am practicing more mindful art-making and production. I am also making it a point to more thoughtfully identify ways that I can help solve everyday problems or challenges that people have by creating more functional art. And that’s where I first came up with the idea of helping others tackle the challenges of being more organized! I know I definitely benefit from these products myself (notepads, sticky notes, pencils, calendars, etc.), and I use them at my office and home, too! I guess that’s a good sign, since I can personally attest to how my products provide functional value in my own life. 😀

I hope you check out my new art store and see for yourself! Let me know what other goodies you would like to see me add into my new Mindful Desk collection! Til the next art update! 🙂

❤ Danessa

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The Road to Self-Compassion

What a winding, unpredictable road it is.

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I’m still basking in the glorious energy of the Self-love, Compassion, and Care art&psychology workshop event from the end of May in Sacramento.  And it got me wondering…

How radical is it to practice self-compassion? 

Talking to all these courageous and open-minded women during the event made me have a greater appreciation for how much of a mind-shift we are creating in our current world. Drawing from my day job of psychotherapy, I cannot help but take notice of how difficult it is for people to just willingly give themselves such self-compassion and love. Like we have to prove that we are worthy of such attention, praise, care, and concern. As if there was more work to do to make us feel okay to give our selves even half of what we so readily give to others.

We hesitate.

We create conditional statements.

We deny ourselves the love and unconditional regard that we so freely give to the significant people in our lives.

Why?

Honestly, I don’t know.

I’ve got lots of ideas why and how each of us gets there at some point, but it is all a big question mark.

To shed some light on such a penumbra, I went at it the only way I knew how.

With a brush and canvas, of course. 😛

I decided to re-work an old painting of mine that I felt was wholly incomplete. It was a painting about a light, airy, and carefree feeling. But it was also titled Pyro because it was about a strong feeling of intuition, desire, and fiery love. It used to be about a more romantic type of love, but now I think this transformation has shifted it to be about self-love. I also didn’t think the final image completely depicted all that I wanted it to, so I revisited this piece and decided to kick it up a notch.

And so this is what happened. Check out those colors and wild movement!

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Like all my other paintings, I created this with intentionality. I made it for me–to be enjoyed by and appreciated by me. I gotta say, most of my paintings are about me gifting myself something I’ve always wanted. A funny remake of this, a rendition of a famous artist’s style, or something that looks b a d a s s on that one empty wall in my room. I mean, why make anything if you don’t like it, right?

This painting has lots of interesting moments within it, and that’s what keeps me curious. To me, this piece conveys how we each spend so many of our moments judging ourselves and thinking and rethinking each moment to the point that we drive ourselves mad with our own thoughts. Sometimes, these patterns of thinking are helpful, other times not. The colors are vibrant and lively to capture the immense energy that our minds are able to produce with each thought; and it can be used for good or bad. In this work, such colorful brushstrokes look as if they are easily swayed in a nonsensical pattern, turning at each bend but never really going anywhere.

Much like how an anxious mind works–trying to “solve” a situation by overthinking and creating “worst-case scenarios.” Pre-planning for what bad thing could happen. And in the end, was it productive?

Our thoughts are so powerful, they can affect how we feel.

Our thoughts can lead us to awe-inspiring journeys that no man has ever set foot. And yet, if we are not careful, such thoughts can lead to our distress. So instead, be still, and find your inner anchor through your breath. Take comfort in the notion that your self-worth is internal and not dependent on what goes on around you. Realize that you, too, deserve your love and care.

And really mean it.

Music on deck: It’s All In Vain by Wet

This whole self-love, compassion, and care is a forever journey that I hope we each find ourselves on at some point in our lifetime. Because we deserve it. We are innately worthy. And that is not something that changes with experience or luck.

To quote my favorite poet on this matter:

Rumi

 

❤ Danessa

Art Appreciation

You know what feels awesome?

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When someone looks at your artwork and tells you, “I get it. I LOVE IT!”

Hearing these words immediately trigger a rush of chemicals to my brain’s reward pathway, and I am addicted.

It is SO validating and heart-warming to meet others who accept you for exactly what makes you unique. And it’s quite infrequent that this happens to me since abstract expressionist art is a niche field that attracts a specific kind of soul.

I started painting a new set of works called Metta. This collection falls under the Mind Games series and has been super re f r e s h ing for me.

The Metta paintings are made with gouache on mixed media paper. This was inspired by my recent and more regular practice of yoga and meditation practice. Although I’ve been involved in these for nearly 6 years now, I am now seeing yoga and mindfulness through a different light. They say yoga can be a religion, and I now see what people mean by that. Often times, I leave a yoga session feeling really cleansed and peaceful. I have a clear goal of what I want out of life and how I want to live the rest of my days. I sometimes even feel a bit emotional after a mindfulness meditation practice or find myself weeping while listening to a guided meditation.

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These new paintings are titled Metta for a reason. I want people who know little to nothing about mindfulness and meditation to have an opportunity to learn about Loving Kindness by coming across these artworks. Loving Kindness or Metta meditation was my gateway to practicing deeper over the years, and I believe it can ring true to others as well. The idea that we can share gratitude, compassion, and empathy towards our fellow humankind (and more importantly, with our selves), all simply because we understand that this is our one life. That we are all that we’ve got. And that we are in this life together. Through the vehicle of creative arts pushing this message forward, I believe that we can get there.

I have noticed that people tend to become captivated by my work from the early days when I painted from a place of sadness, anger, and pain. And I know why. I get it. We all find solace in others who we think can understand what we are going through or have experienced. For that reason, I understand why art patron and fans alike have clamored at my doorsteps asking if any of my early works were up for grabs.

Now, I paint from a different space and mindset, which I believe is just as meaningful, captivating, and may even reflect my increased development as a fine artist. I paint from a place of peace, calm, and balance. I have made it a regular practice to not only create art on a regular basis but not let my mood set the tone for whether I will be making something amazing today. I am moving away from glorifying turmoil, the dramatic, and destructive; I seek the possibility of holding a light to the opposing still, quiet, and balanced way of living.

What do I want my viewers to take away from the Metta paintings?

I want my paintings to serve as a daily reminder to ground oneself to the present moment. To live in the here and now, no matter what you were doing/thinking/feeling right before you took a glance at the painting. Similar to how meditation teaches us to come back to the breath when the mind becomes distracted during practice, I want the Metta paintings to help the viewer remember to be here now. To breathe deeply and live in the present moment with full intention. To take notice and become curious about the image in front of them, and approach it with a beginner’s mind. To look at it from different perspectives, deconstruct it with their mind, and see the image in a brand new way each and every time.

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No interpretation is false–art is personal, and abstract art is poetry in visual form.

Come read my poetry sometime.

 

❤ Danessa

Stranger Things are Strange Indeed

This weekend was so brilliant! The Stranger Things 2 Fan Art Show took place on Saturday at Outlet Coworking in Sacramento. I have patiently waited to see how my newfound interest in fan art would come to be accepted. Seeing as I’ve kind of made a stylistic decision to pursue and keep building on my abstract art-making, this was a personal challenge I assigned to myself to test my abilities. It’s been y e a r s since I painted a portrait of anyone, and I’m glad to say I never lost the magic. 🙂

We dressed up for the Stranger Things costume event–guess who we decided to be?

Check out these pics from the event!

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Man. The Menagerie team did a fantastic job decorating both the indoor and outdoor event. Everything was carefully thought of, from incorporating the Missing: “Mews” posters all over the walls, the Sno-Ball dance decor outdoors, the stringed holiday lights, to oh, the scribbled crayon drawings that Will Byers created to share what the Demogorgon was up to. My friends and I were so blown away by it all, and definitely impressed with the local and national artists that were represented in the show. Some favorites of mine were the two digital artworks to my right and left, the Eleven anime portrait, the mechanical Demogorgon, and the black and white mirrored image digital portraits of Eleven with the numbers “11” aesthetically placed near her nostril to resemble nosebleeds. See here for more event photos.

So happy to have been a part of this big successful art show! It truly warmed my heart to see so many enthusiastic art patrons and attendees, from youngins to young at heart. As for my prints? I think they were completely sold out of the 4″x6″ prints before we left for the evening! Wow! I can’t believe it!

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Sad you missed out on this dope event? Don’t be! Because I’ve got five of those 8.5″x11″ limited edition signed prints left! Check them out on my website if you want one for your collection. The original is up for grabs too.

Best of all, I truly enjoyed working on this art piece and would love to add to it as a new line of work called Strong as Hell.

What is that, you say?

Inspired by your favorite sci-fi shows, the Strong As Hell collection is a tribute to all pop culture characters (of binary or non-binary gender) who embody unwavering emotional strength and resilience.

This is a growing, work-in-progress wing of my artist brand line so I keep checking back in the coming few months for new characters and ideas. If you’ve got a request for a specific pop culture character that you would love for me to paint next, hit me up or comment below! I take requests and am happy to make them a reality!

…And in the small chance that you have yet to watch the Stranger Things show, you should definitely get on it. 😉 I heard Season 3 will be even better!

-Danessa

 

 

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Buddha Nature

Join me for the Mindfulness and Meditation Summit online! It is a FREE global 10-day event beginning 1/22 until 1/31. Looking forward to hearing from all the amazing list of keynote speakers for the event. If there ever was a mindfulness retreat equivalent to Coachella or Burning Man, this is probably what it would look like for me! 😛 I’m particularly keen on hearing Thich Nhat Hanh speak. I’ve grown fond of all his videos, writings, and audio teachings on mindfulness and meditation, and I’m aware that he’s been battling some health problems over the past few years. Leo Babauta was also someone I came across early in my early days of learning about mindfulness and zen living with his ZenHabits online guide to living a more simple and carefree life. One closer step to Buddha nature.

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See, that’s what I love about the teachings of mindfulness and meditation. Like the Buddha, we are taught that we can access this level of enlightenment or growth. The Dalai Lama once said,

” Every sentient being—even insects—have Buddha nature. The seed of Buddha means consciousness, the cognitive power—the seed of enlightenment. That’s from Buddha’s viewpoint. All these destructive things can be removed from the mind, so therefore there’s no reason to believe some sentient beings cannot become Buddha. So every sentient being has that seed.”

To accompany you on this glorious event, here are some of my all-time favorite and highly recommended books on mindfulness and meditation:

  1. Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life by Jon Kabat-Zinn
  2. The Art of Happiness, 10th Anniversary Edition: A Handbook for Living by The Dalai Lama
  3. Siddhartha by Herman Hesse
  4. NO MUD, NO LOTUS: The Art of Transforming Suffering by Thich Nhat Hanh

Check them out on Amazon and get your own copy to fill your 2018 Goodreads bookshelf!

If you prefer the audiobook versions, be sure to check out Audible for the best!

❤️

-Danessa

Boba Painting Party!

Hi there! This long weekend, my friends and I decided to have a fun, chill afternoon. We spent time at home hanging out, painting, catching up on each others’ lives, eating yummy Taiwanese snacks and drinking homemade boba!

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Setup all ready, we decided to do a little early celebration of the upcoming Lunar New Year and paint some cute dogs for the 2018 Chinese Zodiac Year of the Dog! We picked a Pomeranian-Husky (aka POMSKY), Wire Fox Terrier, Pomeranian (or Jigglypuff :P), Shiba Inu, and a Pembroke Welsh Corgi!

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This was my first time leading a group of people how to paint (who are not children lol) and it was so much fun! It was good to improve upon my teaching skills and explain instructions to others while painting. I would say that it went easy, and this may be because it was with my close friends and they are super patient with me. Overall, it was a lot of great fun, I learned a lot about how to conduct myself in front of a group of people. Also, I think my friends and I discovered some hidden talents from some unsuspecting few members of the group! Most of all, it was gratifying to see them get lost in what they were doing; they kept painting and working on their portraits without realizing that almost 4 hours had gone by and it was almost dinnertime!

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Here’s the finishing touches to our works, along with some shots of our yummy snacks,  black milk tea, and matcha green milk tea (thanks Chef Andy!) 😀

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Check out our final pieces! What a great feeling of accomplishment with our first attempt at group painting. So happy to hear that some of these are going to be in our friends’ nursery room! Glad with the color palette we ended up choosing for the color gradient in background! 🙂 Also, peep my corgi with the missing butt. LOl. They said I should finish his body because it is so disturbing distracting that he has no booty. What do you think?

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Hangout sesh was a great success! Can’t wait for the next one! 🙂 Maybe you should join us?


Artists Supporting New Artists!

Enjoyed this post or my art? Click below to support me and my art-making adventure. 

If you are an artist or an artist-in-the-making, it truly helps me when you use any of my links to get your art materials and other goodies. I’ve personally selected my favorite places to shop for the best quality & affordable art materials and want to share them with you. That’s why I always shop at Blick Art Materials and Amazon for my art supply needs.

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The Boat

My yoga instructor shared a thoughtful poem with us during our Yin yoga session the other night, and I thought it would be wonderful to share it with you all:

Missing the Boat


It is not so much that the boat passed
and you failed to notice it.
It is more like the boat stopping
directly outside your bedroom window,
the captain blowing the signal-horn,
the band playing a rousing march.
The boat shouted, waving bright flags,
its silver hull blinding in the sunlight.
But you had this idea you were going by train.
You kept checking the time-table,
digging for tracks.
And the boat got tired of you,
so tired it pulled up the anchor
and raised the ramp.
The boat bobbed into the distance,
shrinking like a toy—
at which point you probably realized
you had always loved the sea.

-Naomi Shihab-Nye

Naomi Shihab-Nye. Wow. Something about her poem spoke to me inside and made me think back to all the times I felt stubborn about “the right things.” How I envisioned my future career, partner, and other life plans. I had it all mapped out and set to go. Nothing was going to deter me from my plans. The way life unfolds, though, is usually without your grand plans in mind. I’ve been particularly reminded of how much tiresome it was to fight against myself on what I thought was the only marker of success. It was to either get this prestigious job or be a failure. It was the promise that if I followed through on my step-by-step 5-point plan, I can finally ease up and give myself the deserving acknowledgment I worked hard for.

Then I faltered. I stumbled. I fell. I saw that nothing was holding me down but myself. I grew too impatient and tunnel-visioned that I lost sight of other things that meanwhile kept growing in vivid color all around me. How I found my recent and growing art patrons and budding art career a “lucky streak” or “too easy, it must not be good.” How I used to complain so much about how difficult it was to meet new friends as an adult that I took for granted the new faces that I’ve gotten to know at work, in my art studios, and friends of friends that I’ve connected with. And that I have found an emotional connection with a partner that is able to intimately share multi-faceted feelings and thoughts about the world that we all live in, which I forgot was the deal-breaking thing that was lacking my previous relationship.

 

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Sometimes things don’t work out no matter how hard we try. Sometimes it’s just not in the stars. But I hope to always have the ability to be able to step back and see life for what it is and not miss the little things that make the big picture grand.

💌

-Danessa


Artists Supporting New Artists!

Enjoyed this post or my art? Click below to support me and my art-making adventure. 

If you are an artist or an artist-in-the-making, it truly helps me when you use any of my links to get your art materials and other goodies. I’ve personally selected my favorite places to shop for the best quality & affordable art materials and want to share them with you. That’s why I always shop at Blick Art Materials and Amazon for my art supply needs.

Find more of Naomi Shihab-Nye’s mellifluous poetry here:

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