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

My (Anti) Valentine

Danessa-Denouement

Dénouement (2015), 24″x30″, Acrylic on canvas

 

The (ANTI) Valentine art show featured one of my old artworks circa 2015. Friends who came by for the artist reception show were sure in for a rare treat and witnessed a different side of me that I usually don’t show.

Here are some photos from the event:

 

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They were interested in hearing about my work and its meaning. I was hesitant to open up about all the things I never told anyone. This painting has been one of those that has haunted me after I painted it. It was one of those that after I made it, I didn’t ever want to look at it again. But I couldn’t get rid of it. It was a part of me that I didn’t want to know, to accept, or acknowledge.

There’s an undeniable mood of heaviness, a feeling of sadness, and despair when you first take it all in. This painting was made back in the day when I particularly found it artistically fitting and physically soothing to use palette knives when painting. (Yeah, I know how that sounds. Still.) I found numerous ways to utilize the palette knife and my marks were very intentional with each hit, smear, slice, and drag application on the canvas.

This is one of the paintings that I have cried in front of, not really knowing why, but the rush of the art-making process suddenly brought me to it.

 

Danessa-Denouement

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Tears of scarlet red and black are dominant in this painting. The fiery red consumes a big part of this image and has the effect of a roaring flame brewing inside. There’s an incessant energy in the black marks that depict a heavy object falling again and again, in different ways, and shattering to no end.

I hated this painting.

I hated it so much I kept it hidden away in the deepest end of my pile of old paintings. Not only that, I had to have it turned around whenever it was stored anywhere. This was a painting I made into existence but never acknowledged until I had to no choice but to face it.

You leave in wonder, “How does it end?”

I would tell you, but that’s not the point of the artwork.

Not past or future, all that it was about was the present moment when I made it. And when I made it, this was what it felt like inside my heart.

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The thing I love best about this painting?

You don’t get to see all that I’ve described unless you’re thisclose to it in person. You don’t get to feel all that I’ve just mentioned unless this is all you see in front of you. You don’t get to appreciate the unity in the marks, the colors and how they come together, the overall choreography of the lines, shapes, and details. And that’s ok. Because this is a part of me that is not for all to see and know.

Just the really special ones.

-Danessa

 

 

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Photo: Henry Chen