Word of the year 2018

If I could choose a word for the 2018 year, mine would be:

Serendipity: To stumble upon something that is favorable by happenstance or luck

I want this year to be all about me digging deeper into my mindfulness practice and learning to trust my instincts. To reach for the stars and see what I find on my way there. To joyfully breeze through each moment, knowing that with each one that passes, time is leading me to something bigger and greater. You know those Nike ads all over the place?

Yeah, I agree.

I want it all.

And is that so bad?

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Photo by Danessa from Art Market SF 2018

But maybe, like always, life has something else in plan for me. For so long, I have planned and pre-planned my life because it seemed chaotic and unpredictable. Personal tragedies have a way of changing people–you are either broken by it or made more formidable. Me? I hate to say it but sometimes I don’t know. So I paint to get it out of my system. It’s a way for me to process what is happening inside and around me–sometimes even unbeknownst to my conscious self.

I’ve been painting a few new pieces that have been an exploration of this idea of serendipity. This latest set began much like any other–a lot of trial and error, feeling unsatisfied about what is currently on the canvas, and wanting to secure a purpose or direction in my work. It. was. tough. But I did hold on and keep trying until I reached a state of mind that was (close to) calm and even-keeled. It was at this turning point that I was able to unlock something excitingly different in my art.

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OMG. Becky, Look at those waves. 0.0

I haven’t painted like this in a long, long, very long time. And stumbling upon this was so fulfilling. It made me think of the post-impressionist works of Vincent van Gogh, and how he reveled in the sheer beauty of color, impasto, and movement in his paintings. What it must have been like to live being misunderstood, isolated, and destitute but doing what you loved. What was that like for him?

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I gave in to my curiosity and dove right into painting with graceful, slow movement. It was when I stopped fighting the unhelpful comments/judgments in my head (“Don’t do that” or “Why don’t you paint like you’re a real artist”) that I found progress in my artwork. I initially planned to create a triptych. But ended up with a diptych. Ah, well. A chance to practice some mindfulness skill of going with the flow and adapting to changes, I guess.

Even after all the artworks and paintings I have done in my life, I still battle with these negative automatic thoughts (NATs) in my head. Sometimes, the external world isn’t really as helpful, either. Several times, I have received previous feedback from other artists that I should paint BIGGER. And with MORE SPEED. And demonstrate MORE POWER in my works. Here, look at this paintbrush stroke–seems to lack CONFIDENCE.

UGH. I thought they were helpful in my growth and I considered them for a time being, but now I see that I have a certain style that works for me and that is all true to my own. So, thanks, but I got this.

And here’s the progress.

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What do you think?

All in all, I’m pretty happy about where this curious adventure has taken me. I think that art is deeply personal and serendipity takes you where you didn’t know you wanted to be, but am infinitely grateful for. I, like everyone else who has ever tried anything new in their life, will continue to work on my NATs and keep serendipity in mind as I continue to take on those new blank canvases.

And I hope that you will too ❤

 

-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

Light and Bubbly

Started some new paintings recently and had the inescapable craving to splash on a light and bubbly colorful palette for a change.

 

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Maybe it was inspired by my recent art hangout with friends when we made some cute Year of the Dog paintings, or my recent trip to the Museum of Ice Cream, or maybe it’s the recent surge of friends who are on the path to parenthood at the moment (this does not include me lol). OR Maybe it was ALL of it. I am currently inspired and touched by the amazing journey ahead into this weird life phase we now are in. Straight up adulting, guys! From all this happening around me, I wanted to help welcome such new and exciting times by creating new babes of my own (yet still an art reference!). 😛

Check out this time-lapse vid of me getting my mindful art on!

 

Here I am using my calligraphy brush to whisk on some beautiful light strokes of Windsor & Newton and M. Graham watercolor paints on the good ol’ trustworthy Arches watercolor paper. Super fun! What you didn’t see was my new art-making ritual process of doing a brief but grounding mindfulness practice right beforehand, and then an ease towards making the painting.

My goal is to make each into a triptych set. I don’t really make triptych paintings often, but I think this idea lends well to it. Something about the fleeting movement of the puffy, cotton-candy colors that make me want to keep creating and re-creating it, to evoke the feeling of breathing in and out deeply, resembling when I engage in deep breathing during mindfulness meditation.

Inhale,

and breathe in

a big colorful bubble of light.

Exhale,

and breathe out

an airy,

fluffy cloud

that bobs slowly

up,

up,

and away.

Themes of playfulness, sweet, and carefree. Distant memories of childhood not yet tarnished by the realities of adult life. Curiosity and cheerful giggles that radiate a whole room.

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Still a work in progress, I must say. Stay tuned for updates!

Oh HEY! Have you grabbed your copy of my latest FREE art calendar? Get it here and share /print it as much as you want!

An elegant flower lily of delicate hues and a white leaf bumigi for writing lies on a light pink background.

-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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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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Book Review: Real Artists Don’t Starve by Jeff Goins

Oh. My. God. I stumbled across this book accidentally while waiting for my Lyft ride at a FedEx in San Diego, California. It’s called Real Artists Don’t Starve by Jeff Goins. The title was very catchy and it definitely caught my attention. I didn’t end up getting it on loan at the library until a few months later but it was definitely worth the wait.

From the moment the audiobook started playing in the introduction section, it made me shiver with delight and excitement. I wanted to learn more about what Jeff Goins had to say. His initial story about Michelangelo and debunking the myth of the romanticized view of the starving artist had my full attention. I was only listening to a few paragraphs of the introduction and then had the itching desire to just BUY the book and keep it in my arsenal of business and art marketing tools. Yep, the hook was that good.

While I don’t want to give it all away, I wanted to share with you some of the highlights that made me keen on reading this entire book. In Real Artists Don’t Starve, Goins discussed the 12 Rules of the New Rennaissance, which is what ultimately got me to listen in a little closer than other books I have come across on how to make it as an artist in our contemporary world. And yes, I am ecstatic to go through some of my favorites with you today! Here’s a preview of the list:

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1. The Starving Artist believes you must be born an artist. The Thriving Artist knows you must become one.

I must admit that I have fallen into the trap of the former mindset. This idea we have about gifts or talents can be initially comforting, but at the same time, a very common pitfall. Too often, I’ve thought, well, art is in my blood and DNA, maybe that’s why I’m good? Most days, that is enough, but when there are times when I struggle with self-doubt and criticism with my artwork, I become crippled and stuck. Practice makes us better, and it ultimately leads to our self-discovery and new ideas. Now, I don’t wait for inspiration to strike me before creating a painting. Instead, I now just pick up a brush as scheduled on my daily calendar and paint away.

2. The Starving Artist strives to be original. The Thriving Artist steals from his influences.

I remember an art instructor in college telling me and my classmates that in art, everything has already been done and nothing is completely new. Everything. I was completely mortified! How was I going to stand apart from my peers, and better yet, my predecessors in the art world? Do you actually mean to say that ideas I have about painting with only one brushstroke and calling it art have already been done??? (*edit: I looked this up and yes, it has. See James Nares) Hearing this statement by Goins was thought-provoking and also very freeing. I don’t have to feel pressured to create something entirely unheard of to be recognized as an esteemed artist worthy of attention. I can turn to my inspirations and influences to create something multi-faceted, intriguing, and meaningful. I love this!

10. The Starving Artist sells out too soon. The Thriving Artist owns his work.

Yes, yes, a thousand times Y – E – S! Reading this statement gave me so much validation on my stance about selling my original paintings. Friends and patrons have constantly asked me if I am selling my original artworks, and yes, to a certain degree I am. However, I tend to keep most of my originals (at this time) because I am creating a body of work that will be important to make a collection. I’m not simply hoarding my works to myself because I can’t let go of them. I am preparing for a future endeavor that will be greater than my wildest dreams imaginable. When I set goals, I go big, but with the SMART acronym in mind–specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. And looking back at my track record and notebooks filled with yearly goals since 2013, I’ve been pretty good at keeping myself in check and following through! And finding the right patron who appreciates my work and my background as an artist/doctor has always been worth the wait.

11. The Starving Artist masters one craft. The Thriving Artist masters many.

So much this–this is me in a nutshell! I don’t believe I have ADHD, but sometimes, I do wonder whenever my creative brain just wants to do all the things all at once. Then I realize, nope, it’s just my anxiety. 😛 All that aside, I do enjoy learning for life and that goes along with art-making as well. I love picking up new art materials from the art store and figuring out how to incorporate them into my current art process. For instance, I recently learned woodburning, making digital illustrations, and creating custom templates/webpages/business cards as a freelance artist! I not only enjoy learning about how to do them, but also make an effort to learn how to do them well. Thanks to my endless blogging, tinkering on-and-off with websites and Adobe Creative Suite addiction, I can easily explore these other paths of art-making and creative processes and relate them back to my work.

12. The Starving Artist despises the need for money. The Thriving Artist makes money to make art.

Alright, as a recovering starving graduate student in the past 6 years, I have been programmed to scrimp and save for tomorrow like I’ll always be in student debt or there’s not gonna be any jobs forever. Since I became a part of the real world and working class, my idea of money has somewhat stayed the same. But you know what? Goins has a darn good point and his view on how money fits into the thriving artist’s life has changed my views on this dramatically. So much so that I have decided that this is my new mantra for 2018 and on–make money to make more art. I am fortunate to be employed and receiving a steady income while I fulfill my artistic goals on the side. This allows me the stability and ease of mind to freely make artwork without the nagging pressure of selling or producing work in order to eat, afford gas for my car, or pay my mortgage. I now see the value in seeing money, not as an endgame and ultimate reason to make art, but as a tool or resource that allows me to keep making art. By thinking about money as a means to create more art, it not only fuels your work but allows you to think bigger and better each time around. Money is ephemeral, much as we’d like it not to be so, and since it comes and goes, we should stop chasing it like those waterfalls. Instead, chase ideas, new techniques, color palettes, learn from new influences and let the creativity flow. Humans are social beings by nature, and the more you exude a deep, sincere interest in your art-making and share it with the world, the more you gain others’ interest (and also hopefully their greenbacks).

 

Overall, I appreciated all the examples of contemporary artists/entrepreneurs Goins provided throughout the book, such as Jay Z, Dr. Dre, Michael Jackson, and so on. The material was very approachable and an easy read. Each chapter was more motivating than the last, and I found myself taking notes and asking myself some questions about how each thought applied to my art-making and business plan. So, if you are at all interested in Goins’ book Real Artists Don’t Starve and his take on how to make it as a thriving artist in today’s world, this is definitely the book for you!

 


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.